Celebration at UNESCO of 50th anniversary of first International Congress of Black Writers and ArtistsThe 50th anniversary of the first International Congress of Black Writers and Artists will be celebrated at UNESCO next week. The event will begin at the Sorbonne on 19 September (Descartes Amphitheatre, 10 a.m.) and continue at UNESCO Headquarters from the 19th (afternoon) until 22 September. Numerous world-renowned writers, artists and intellectuals will participate in this commemoration. Among them: Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Henri Lopez (Congo), Nathan Davis (United States), Edouard Glissant (Guadeloupe) and Christiane Taubira (French Guyana).
In observance of the first congress’ 50th anniversary, the African Community of Culture and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University (USA) are organizing, in collaboration with UNESCO, an international symposium to assess the impact of the first congress. Distributed among 11 round tables, participants will consider notably the issue of identity and cultural diversity; the dialogue between cultures and between religions; and policies concerning culture and education. Other topics of discussion will include the economy and marginalization, contemporary cultural issues, the African diaspora and the role of women.
The first International Congress of Black Writers and Artists was initiated by the Senegalese intellectual Alioune Diop, founder of Présence Africaine, a journal and publishing house in Paris that pioneered the promotion of black cultures. The congress was held in Paris in the Sorbonne’s Descartes amphitheatre.
Among its organizers were intellectuals now internationally famous, such as Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal), Jacques Rabemananjara (Madagascar), Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), Richard Wright (United States), Jean Price-Mars (United States) and Frantz Fanon (Martinique). It played a determining role in affirming African and African American identity and the values of Sub-Saharan African civilizations.
The African Society of Culture was founded as a result of this historical event, with the mission of “uniting the black world’s men of culture through bonds of solidarity and friendship”, of “contributing to the creation of the necessary conditions for the flourishing of their own cultures”, and of “cooperating for the development and reform of universal culture”.
In order to adapt the spirit and goals of the African Society of Culture to today’s needs, the African Community of Culture was recently created. It is presided by Wole Soyinka.