Music, art and religion key to trade in Africa?

The launch of Free Trade Area is being marked in style

In Summary

• Meta and Google are among the heavyweight organisations holding fiestas

A band performs
A band performs

Immersive art, music and digital storytelling take centre stage as the continent marks 60 years of Africa Day celebrations and the start of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) acceleration lane.

With its increasing emphasis on music, art, storytelling and religion as unifying factors among 54 African countries, it is anticipated that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the world's largest single market, will be implemented more quickly.

As the continent gears up for this year's Africa Day celebrations on May 25th, several organisations are hosting events around these themes to appreciate diverse cultures and languages and holding online conversations on the role of faith in fostering social and economic integration.

Africa Day is an event that signifies the establishment of the African Union and honours the continent's pursuit of unity.

The World Council of Churches has scheduled a webinar to interrogate the role of faith communities in engendering division among people of African descent within the framework of the AfCFTA and the free movement protocol.

The webinar will spotlight how embedded racial and xenophobic prejudices impede a strong and united Africa.

According to the council, the online conversation will propose ways in which faith communities, especially Christians and Islam, can contribute to the development of a shared African identity and promote the ratification of the Free Movement protocol.

Meta, Facebook's parent company, will also amplify the voices and stories of eight rising talents across Africa's creative industry through its third annual campaign, 'Made by Africa, Loved by the World'.

"We're thrilled to celebrate Africa Day this year by amplifying the stories of just some of our talented rising stars from across the continent, who are shining a spotlight on African culture, music, food, dance, fashion and so much more in their own voices," said Meta Sub-Saharan Africa communications director Kezia Anim-Addo.

The eight talents, comprising musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and content creators, are drawn from Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Giant search engine Google has taken this year's celebrations a notch higher with the addition of six pocket galleries, a virtual exhibit on Google Arts and Culture that immerses users into the heart of Africa's captivating cultural scene.

The pocket galleries, curated by Google partners in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, will present unique exhibitions that explore and celebrates diverse and rich cultural heritage in these regions through a 360-degree view of their artworks and artefacts.

"We are excited that we can amplify these stories and experiences on our platforms... We are happy to share and celebrate Africa's culture with the world," said Google country director for Eastern Africa Agnes Gathaiya.

In West Africa, Google partners are Yemisi Shyllon Museum, a contemporary art museum that will showcase Nigerian artists' works, exploring themes of identity and authenticity. Terra Kulture from Nigeria will also present a celebration of two generations of Nigerian artists - Baby Boomers and Gen Z - showcasing their unique artistic styles, techniques, and mediums.

The Mohamed Amin Foundation in Kenya will exhibit a collection of photographs that showcase Africa from the 1940s with pictures including the Ethiopian famine, the East African safari rally, 70s fashion, the Hajj pilgrimage, and Africa's independence. Additionally, the National Museums of Kenya will exhibit the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests in the country.

One of Africa's top universities, the University of Pretoria, will showcase South Africa's diverse art history through a collection of iconic works by renowned South African artistes.

This initiative will complement the annual Africa Day Playlist on Youtube-featuring popular and trending songs from African artists. In addition, the "Stories and Storytellers of Africa" initiative will celebrate the narratives and storytellers from Africa through an extensive collection of African movies and series on YouTube.

The African Union (AU) has chosen "Acceleration of AfCFTA implementation" as its theme for the 2023 Africa Day Celebrations to deepen the economic integration of about 1.3bn people across Africa.

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