Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 18

eoples are like men, with
nothing left of them after their
death but things that come from
the spirit, that is to say literature and
art, written poems and poems in stone,
marble and colours’, said Professor Lye
M. Yoka. Even if these moving words
limit culture to literature and art, they
apply perfectly to Africa. More than gold
from South Africa, diamonds from the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and
from Angola and cacao from Ivory Coast
and Ghana, culture is the most original
thing that Africa can offer to the world.
The question would previously have
seemed banal if not insane in the context
of the slave trade and colonisation. The
verdict was clear: the so-called ‘primitive’
peoples of the South were considered
as lacking in culture or civilisation. It
is fortunate that the United Nations,
which decreed that 2010 should be the
International Year for the Rapprochement
of Cultures, has recognised that the slave
trade was one of the great tragedies
of the history of humanity and invited
reflection of the possibilities for soothing
and overcoming these painful memories.
A great cultural diversity
Africa is not the ‘geological scandal’
mentioned by a nineteenth century
geologist. With 56 states and more than
a thousand languages spoken including
over fifty by more than 500000 people,
a rich and varied cultural heritage—in
short, great cultural diversity—Africa is
also a cultural scandal and has much to
share with the other continents.
Its art goes back the Neolithic age with
rock paintings and carvings. These are
found in practically all the Saharan
mountain ranges from Mauritania to
the Fezzan and from the Tassili to the
Ennedi (from 6000 BC to the 1
AD). Further south were the ceramic
sculptures made by the artists of the
Nok civilisation in central Nigeria
(500 BC – AD 200) and which, according
to information from recent digs, are
combined with remains of work in iron.
They prefigure, in the same country, the
Igbo Ukwu decorative bronzes (9
centuries AD), the extraordinary Ife
bronze and ceramic sculptures (12
centuries AD) and those of Benin
centuries). They display such
technical mastery and are rendered in
such a naturalistic manner that initially
they were wrongly attributed with
classical inspiration.
This tradition in art concerns sculpture
(statues and masks), architecture
(dwellings and granaries), furniture,
pottery, weaving and jewellery. Personal
finery, a sign of distinction and protection
against bad influences (body painting,
headwear and hair, scarification and
tattoos), polychrome decoration of
dwellings and granaries and woven
cloth also form an important part of the
symbolic and artistic heritages.
The Ethiopian Christian orthodox monolithic church of Beta Ghioghis at Lalibela, one
of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, together with Axum.
© J.D. Dallet/Suds-Concepts
The great Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (Morocco). About
25000 worshippers can gather inside and 80000 outside.
© J.D. Dallet/Suds-Concepts
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