Message of solidarity on the occasion of the celebration of 23rd International African Writers Day

 Addis Ababa, 7 November 2016: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, HE Dr Dlamini Zuma congratulates African and Diaspora writers – past and present – on the occasion of the 23rd Anniversary of International African Writers Day, 7 November 2016. She recalls that the day coincides with the birth of the Pan African Writers Association, an organisation dedicated to promoting African classic works, and encouraging publishing and the culture of writing and reading on the continent.

The AU Commission notes that African writers, throughout the ages gave expression to the diversity of African voices, telling the many African stories, and celebrating the unity of the Pan African narrative. Writers and other artists, musicians, poets, dancers, painters, through their different mediums express our feelings, values and ideas. They are critical to the realisation of the African Renaissance and Agenda 2063.

During the 26th Ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in January 2016, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma paid tribute to the role of writers and others artists and cultural workers, when she said: is often said about Africans: when we mourn we sing; when we celebrate, we sing; when we mobilise, we sing. We therefore know that when our artists compose songs, when our poets put it to verses, and when our painters express on canvasses, it is a matter that touches our souls and hearts. African people compose, perform, write, recite and sing in over a thousand languages. 

Our priests and imams, rabbis and pastors, pray for Africa, mindful of our common humanity. They tell the stories of our ancient civilisations and heritage: the obelix of Axum, the pyramids of Egypt and Sudan; the stone churches of Lalibela; the historic sites of Great Zimbabwe, the M’Zab Valley, Mapungubwe, Ribeira Grande, Medina, the Stone Town of Zanzibar and the old town of Djenne, the universities and libraries of Timbuktu and Alexandria; and sing praises to the ancient kingdoms of Songai, Mali, Ghana, and Dahome.

The developments on the continent, and our determination to defeat underdevelopment, poverty, ignorance and disease, are key to the mission of current generations. The myriads of writing works – poetry, fiction and non-fiction – published over the last two decades speak to this renewal and transformation agenda.

Indeed, new technologies, especially e-publishing and blogs, make it possible for greater numbers of writers, young and old, men and women, urban and rural, to find a market and readerships for their work. The Pan African Writers Association must encourage this development, and continue to nurture talent across the continent, and in all languages.

The African Union Commission is mindful about the incredible contribution that the creative arts can make towards social and economic development. As a sector, it can generate jobs and economic opportunities. The Union and our governments must therefore create the necessary policy environments to ensure that the creative industries flourish. The Commission looks forward to continue to exchange ideas with organisations such as the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) on how to achieve this, and to strengthen the culture of writing and reading in Africa.

The Commission therefore assures PAWA and the writers of its continued solidarity and keen interest in their work.