The upcoming festival of the African arts will mark the importance of culture in addressing the challenges of the continent, a UN official said on Wednesday.
"By promoting African art and culture, we can double our efforts for the emergence of a truly united Africa, where all communities live in peace, security, prosperity and freedom," Ibrahim Gambari, special advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said at the launch of the World Festival of Black Arts 2009 (FESMAN 2009) at UN Headquarters Wednesday.
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, U.S. political organizer Jesse Jackson, singing stars Akon and Angelique Kidjo and jazz icon Randy Weston also participated in the event, meant to introduce FESMAN 2009.
The Brooklyn Steppers youth marching band, which is heading for a performance at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next week, kicked off Wednesday's preview of the festival, which carries the theme of African Renaissance, Cultural Diversity and African Unity.
The festival will highlight the power of the arts to promote development and peace, to mobilize efforts against HIV/AIDS and accelerate the achievement of the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a UN-backed set of targets to reduce extreme poverty and other global problems by 2015, its organizers said.
The first FESMAN was hosted in 1966 by former Senegalese President Leopold Senghor.