By Tabora Bojang
Tourism Minister Hamat Bah has told an AU forum for Ministers responsible for Arts, Culture and Heritage that Africa must use its past to build a cohesive society that will be free of war and violence to ensure the African man is given the opportunity to live in peace once again.
The virtual forum was convened by the African Union under the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage; Levers for Building the Africa We Want,” which underscores the need for challenges confronting African economies to be addressed through integrations of arts, cultures and heritage in governance systems.
The forum further availed African culture minsters an opportunity to present, discuss and launch the Concept Note and Roadmap of the Theme of the Year, capturing the AU’s aspirations of ensuring African arts and cultural heritage play a key role in promoting pan African consciousness, socio-economic development and integration in line with AU agenda 2063.
Minister Bah while addressing the forum underscored the need for policy makers in the continent to reflect on the architectural culture of Africa when outlining their infrastructural development projects, saying “we have been imitating too much by letting go some of our architectural engineering gifts when building our cities and towns.
“Our past architectural culture needs to be taken into account as we are going back in trying to recognize and adopt national dresses. It is sad that some countries do not even have a recognized national dress, but in The Gambia we are proud that in this part of Africa (West) we are easily recognized by the way we dress in our attire which is part of our culture, therefore the way be build our houses and infrastructure should also reflect the architectural culture of Africa of the past” Hamat stated.
He described it as “sorrowful” how the continent “neglected” its past cultural artistic heritage and knowledge to avoid the current conflicts Africa faces.
“These can be managed through our past cultural heritage and it is about time we use it to build a cohesive society that will be free of war, violence and indeed to make sure the African is given the opportunity to live in peace once again.
“We were one nation, the Senegambia region, the Songhai Empire, the Mali Empire and many other empires brought us together as one, managed by a government of people and we lived in peace and harmony,” the tourism minister added.
He assured the forum that the Gambia government will do what it takes to ratify the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance in ensuring the country emerges on the forefront in the promotion of African Arts and Culture.