Africans, Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As in past years, we invite you to commemorate with us in the African Union, the 11th edition of the African Borders Day.

The AU theme of the year is: Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want.

Like the societies that espouse them, culture, arts and heritage straddle over inter-state boundaries almost everywhere in Africa. Ethnic identities and cultural practices are cross-border in nature, and, as such, play a leading role in the promotion of cordial inter-communal relations and the consolidation of good neighborliness across borders. Hence, the 2021 AU theme is more appropriate to commemorate the African Borders Day.

Conflict, often latent and at times open, is omnipresent in societies and in human relationships. This constant threat has led African societies, with the support of the AU, to design and put in place mechanisms, procedures and tools to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.

Traditions and cultural practices, admittedly old, but time-tested, nurtured by popular wisdom, are used today as tools of non-violence, instruments for tolerance, meditation and mechanisms of peaceful coexistence between border communities and neighboring countries. 

Through culture, tensions between ethnic or socio-professional groups are contained or deflected, alliances and pacts are forged to establish a climate of peace and stability. 

In engaging in joint cultural practices, border communities build cross-border relations on the basis of mutual respect and acceptance. Thus, mediation and reconciliation, for example, have become widely acceptable practices in Africa as tools for the peaceful resolution/ management of conflicts and building social cohesion. The Councils of the Wise, these true cultural actors, make use of instruments such as the palaver and kinship but also of the linguistic subtleties premised on the relevance of proverbs, maxims, idioms, and adages as well as other shared intangible heritage including tales, songs and myths in their conflict prevention, management and resolution efforts. In the same manner, religious manifestations and social festivities such as weddings, naming ceremonies, and other festivals play an essential role in promoting the acceptance of the other, and in his/her integration.

The African Union is optimally tapping into the potential that culture constitutes in the development and implementation of continental policies in general and those related to borders in particular. 

The Charter for African Cultural Renaissance adopted in 2006 promotes, among other things, cultural cooperation between States; integration of cultural objectives into strategies for the development and strengthening of cultural and natural heritage in the promotion of peace and good governance. As an instrument for the sustainable development of border areas, the African Union Convention on Cross-border Cooperation (Niamey Convention) encourages the implementation of cross-border initiatives in various sectors ranging from the socio-economic domain to security and institutional development. 

Furthermore, the Convention urges Member States to promote cross-border cooperation in the field of cultural and sport activities (Article 3 (3)). The African Union Strategy for Better Integrated Border Governance recommends promoting the culture, values and traditions of cross-border communities through local actors in order to strengthen the good neighborliness and the peaceful cohabitation in borderlands.

Inspired by the AU normative frameworks, I encourage all Africans to rely on our cultural heritage and on our arts to deepen and consolidate border governance actions and more particularly cross-border cooperation measures. It is, in our reliance of our common identity that we can use our border regions as levers and build together the Africa we want. Only an Africa utilizing its  strong cultural identity, rich common heritage and values, that will make our border communities more peaceful, stable and secure. 

In the hope that you will commemorate the 11th edition of the African Borders Day by showcasing everywhere, particularly in the border areas, the commonality of African arts, culture and heritage.


I wish you an excellent celebration of the 2021 African Borders Day.

Posted by Limi Mohammed
Last updated by Abraham Kebede

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