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Monday, 1 December 2014

Artwatch announces cultural rights, creative freedom indaba

By Andrew Mulenga

Artwatch Africa, a project the Arterial Network (a continental network of creative practitioners with 5,000 members from 50 African countries) that “aims to assert, promote and defend artist rights and freedom of creative expression for artists and cultural practitioners in Africa” will from next week Monday hold a 3 day workshop at the ZAMCOM Lodge in Lusaka.

Artwatch Africa, which has its base in Cape Town South Africa, appointed two Zambian ambassadors for the project early this year namely award-winning filmmaker Musola Kaseketi and seasoned songbird and arts activist Saboi Imboela.

Targeting individuals and organisations within creative and media sectors, the workshop will focus on “Cultural rights and freedom of creative expression”, in a statement to Andrew Mulenga’s Hole In The Wall this week, one of Artwatch Africa’s two Zambian Ambassadors Musola Kaseketi stated “The purpose of the workshop is to enhance and deepen the understanding of Human Rights in the artists and media people.”

A project of Arterial Network, a continental network for artistic practitioners: “Artwatch Africa sets out to promote and defend the freedom of creative expression on the African continent. Through human rights training, public seminars, writing of articles and blogs, monitoring and reporting of censorship and repression, Artwatch Africa aims to empower local civil society actors within the arts, cultural, human rights and related sectors to defend the rights of artists and contribute to democracy building with-in Africa”.
According to the statement, the lead facilitator in attendance will be Nforchu Mabelle from Yaoundé, Cameroon, a thought-shaping human rights activist who works for the Human Rights Commission of her country.

Kaseketi - The purpose of the workshop is to enhance
and deepen the understanding of Human Rights
in the artists and media people
Kaseketi confirmed that participation will be drawn from a broad spectrum, namely NAMA-Film and Radio Association, Shakarongo Arts and Youth Academy, Yezi Arts Theatre and productions, International Film Festival Zambia Children In Media, Zambia Association of Musicians, Zambia Women Writers Association, Zambia Media Women Association, MISA-Zambia, Albinos National Association, Child Exposure in Zambian Arts (CHIEZA) Trust, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporations and Ministry of Tourism and Arts, Ministry of Information and Labour.

In an online media post early this year, shortly after her appointment, former Shatel songbird, Imboela reminded artistes that it was their right and duty to lobby government to ratify and implement international laws that relate to their freedom of creative expression.  
“Remember that Zambia is party to many International and regional human rights conventions that guarantee the protection of artistic expressions. Though some of these have not yet been domesticated, we can still draw on the rights or freedoms of expression, assembly, etc., that are guaranteed by our Republican Constitution. But like most African countries, while the Constitution provides for protections of freedom of expression, it places limits on what can be expressed. This has led to many radical songs and artists being banned or intimidated across the continent. Some artists have been kidnapped, tortured and even killed in different countries due to their artistic expressions,” stated Imboela in part “Like all other groups of people that advocate for the domestication of various ratified instruments that improve their wellbeing, artists in Zambia can also dialogue with government to domesticate some of these treaties. So far, Zambia adopted the definition of culture enshrined in the UNESCO Mexico City Declaration of 1982 on Cultural Policies to which Zambia is a signatory. The declaration was domesticated through the National Cultural Policy of June 2003.”

She indicated that being a member of the United Nations since 1964, Zambia recognizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In addition to the UDHR, Zambia is a signatory to the following international instruments; The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified in 1984; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also ratified in 1984. To date, Zambia is NOT party to the following instruments; UNESCO’s Recommendations concerning the Status of the Artist; The Rome Convention on Intellectual Property; and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression.

Imboela - Remember that Zambia is party to many
International and regional human rights conventions
that guarantee the protection of artistic expressions
“However, Zambia is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and people’s rights, which is a regional instrument that was yet again ratified in 1984. From the above ratified instruments, it is clear that artistic and cultural rights are guaranteed in general human rights treaties, as all specific artistic conventions seem not to have been ratified by the country,” continued Imboela “Artwatch Africa aims to empower local civil society actors within the arts, cultural, human rights, and other related sectors to defend the rights of artists and contribute to democracy building in Africa.”

Artwatch Africa is premised on the understanding that freedom of expression is an essential condition for creative practice in the arts, and that to promote freedom of expression is to advance democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms on the continent. This is the first of many activities in Zambia, Kaseketi and Imboela make a formidable team which looks set to champion the projects cause fittingly.

Kaseketi has been a well-known activist since she was a Human Rights Advocate at Columbia University, she has founded Pachibwanse Corner, a future village and project to enhance the lives of women and girls with disabilities her award winning film Suwi also looked at the plight of the girl child and as CEO of the annual Shungu Namutitima International Film Festival (SHUNAFFoZ) she has seen to it that advocacy in the arts remains a staple. Imboela’s vast experience on the Zambian music scene since her days under Mondo Music’s Zambian popular music’s revival in the late 1990s backed by her degree in political science from the University of Zambia hold her in good stead, furthermore, she is Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at Save the Children “a child rights organization with a dual mandate that seeks to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children.”

Also helping to co-ordinate the forthcoming workshop are members of the Zambian chapter of Arterial Network, Clive Kawana a seasoned poet, author and educator and Betty Ngoma a screenwriter whose work on the popular television series Love Games has landed her a nomination for  The Graig Lungu Award for the Best Screen Writer at the National Association of Media Arts Awards scheduled for the Zambia Film, Television and Radio (ZAFTAR) week to take place from Sunday 7th to Friday 12th December, 2014. 

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