>In two weeks, Accra hosts an interesting conference, 2nd International Conference on African Culture and Development, ICACD. The program can be found here.
The secretariat of the newly founded organization is placed in Ghana’s commercial hub, Kumasi and it was also there the first conference was held in 2008. A participant, Erica Borgstrom, published her reflections after that first meeting here. She writes:
The conference illustrated precisely how complex the idea of ‘Africa’ is whilst physically demonstrating how competing agendas affect this notion. The premise of ICACD is to be an ‘African Cultural advocate’ to influence policy, placing culture on the broader African development agenda. For its inaugural meeting, ICACD attracted an array of individuals with varying backgrounds and aspirations. Their differing agendas soon became apparent in presentations and discussions. Primarily, this resulted in the (often confusing) multiple and differing use of the word ‘culture’, consequently affecting their attitudes towards an implementation of ‘culture’ in ‘development’.
Africa is not one! Why an initiative like this will not start with the scope of West-Africa – or even Ghana – is beyond me. Because, just like for the AU, geographically broad initiatives that recognize no difference in agendas or set any rules for membership, become toothless.
The second item brought up in the quote above, I also found very interesting since I personally recognize this problem of defining ‘culture’. Being interested in the arts in Ghana, I have been confronted with this often conflicting of interpretations to ‘culture’ – two brought out by Borgstrom are 1) the touristic and sometimes stereotypical “traditional” culture including dancing and drumming and 2) the culture linked to how we choose to live our lives. And then I’d like to add the 3) culture involving all artistic expression, focusing on contemporary expressions, that Borgstrom does not discuss.
However, the issue is critical – what kind of development do we get if culture (whatever the definition might be) is not included? Also, I’m guessing the other executives (I’m the treasurer) of Accra Cultural and Arts Network (AccraCAN) will be there. So, I might steal time away from my regular job to go see if discussions have progressed since last year.
Pic: people and sculptures of people at a vernissage in August at the University of Ghana. Sculptures by the Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji.