United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Artists of the creative industries step into the scene of changemakers to catalyze the peacebuilding process and redefine the dynamics of financial resilience for talented youths in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon. In a groundbreaking first edition of the Cameroon International Music Festival (CIMFEST), UNESCO, though the ResiliArt movement, supports the synergy of Cameroonian Artists to sketch a roadmap for peacebuilding and economic resilience through the power of Culture. This is in line with the UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which recognizes the dual nature, both cultural and economic, of contemporary cultural expressions produced by artists and cultural professionals. The initiative also benefited from the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

ResiliArt is a global movement, initiated by UNESCO Director General in April 2020, that aims to strengthen the resilience of artists and cultural professionals in the face of the enormous challenges posed by the current health crisis. In the past years, the current socio-political crisis and COVID-19 have had a paralyzing impact on the performing arts sector, refraining performers and other artists from creating and sharing their work with the public and impacting the diversity of cultural expressions. In this context, the UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa through UNESCO’s vision “building peace in the minds of men and women” adopted a new approach to resilience and peacebuilding efforts by inspiring the peace process in the minds of the people by the compelling power of their culture, while providing artists and cultural professionals a platform to share their challenges and messages of resilience.

In April 2021, UNESCO supported the Cameroon International Film Festival (CAMIFF). The participants enthusiastically learned various aspects of culture for development and culture for peace through Cinema masterclasses during the day and in the evening, took part in social activities for peace and unity. In so doing, the festival served as a major eye opener to the power of Culture as an effective entry point to promote sustainable peace and unity in the crisis affected regions. To further strengthen and sustain the successful outcomes of the film festival, UNESCO and CAMIFF conceived the Cameroon International Music Festival aiming at showcasing the wealth of talents in Cameroon, especially in the Northwest and Southwest regions, while training these young talents to build their own financial resilience through their music and creativity. In a great turn of events, the festival assembled more than 100 famous music artists joining other new emerging artists and numerous participants to develop a roadmap for individual and collective development of the music industry, and their key role in leading peacebuilding and recovery of the regions through the music culture.

“It was heartwarming and impressive to see such events take place in Buea in spite of the ongoing crisis and security challenges, and witness firsthand the resilient, mobilized and committed young and unequalled talents of Cameroon actresses and actors, musicians, and producers,” said UNESCO regional Director for Central Africa Mr. Salah Khaled. “With so many movies making their way onto Netflix and music to TRACE TV, Boomplay and Spotify, I’m proud to say our bet for UNESCO to support such events is contributing to making Cinema and Music and the next big economic locomotive of creative industries.”

During a symposium with 105 participants in attendance, UNESCO Regional Director shared UNESCO’s strategic approach and lessons learned in the use of Culture for peace in other conflict affected regions which could be applied successfully with the help of artists. The four-day festival which ended in a grand awards night and a Peace concertgathering youth in town around music was indeed successful synergy of UNESCO and sister agency UNDP Cameroon and further powered by the generous funding contributions of the Kingdom of Belgium. “The conflict has to stop, and a chance has to be given to the amazing young talents to have an opportunity for a better life,” the UNESCO Regional Director concluded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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