The 3rd Kwame Nkrumah Festival is a Pan-African curation of alternative culture, ideas and alternative ways of doing business. Our goal is to advance a new and liberating Pan-African cultural economy that will serve the material interests of Africans.
We inhabit a moment of revelation, with our acuity enhanced by Western responses to a global pandemic, neither the first nor the last of its kind. African people already face endemic poverty, compounded by new levels of exclusion and border policing, while the global system continues to extract our best human, intellectual and cultural resources to profit others. If we have learned anything at all from over half a century of flag independence, it is that depoliticizing ‘culture’ by separating it from ‘economy’ has successfully foiled many of those who came before us.
What is democracy without economic justice? Where is the dignity in the impoverished and unsanitary slums of our cities? We have to think and organise our lives differently if we are to take control of ourselves and our appetites, and redirect our vast wealth of human and natural resources to benefit Africans. Culture may indeed be ‘the whole way of life of the people’ but it is not revolutionary in and of itself. On the contrary, the systemic inequalities wrought by racism, patriarchy and the general disregard for the immiserated majority of Africans, commonly find excuse in chauvinistic traditions, creeds, and nationalist dogma.
The prevailing global political-economic system is itself the product of a particular European culture – a culture that thrived and grew through social relations that oppressed and exploited women and children, even before it was expanded through the enslavement and colonisation of Africans. The 3rd Kwame Nkrumah Festival sets out to celebrate and showcase the beauty, ingenuity and creativity of African cultural production.
However, because of the global pandemic, it will also be a major Pan-African experiment in digital culture, broadcast and live-streamed globally for the first time. Our objective is to pursue the basic principles of Pan-Africanism bequeathed by Nkrumah and other revolutionary thinkers of his generation, and extend it across the contemporary geographies of gender and generation, to galvanize a liberatory cultural economy. We want future generations of Africans to benefit materially from African cultural and intellectual ingenuity, instead of trivializing cultural products to sell to tourists or leaving them to gather mould in the vaults of Western museums.