cultural roots of region
countries belonging to the African, Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) Group assembled in the Dominican Republic, where the
2nd Forum of Ministers of Culture of this vast group of countries
was held, giving continuity to the first meeting of that kind
held in 2003, in Dakar.
This time, however, the ministers took a step forward by simultaneously
launching the ACP Cultural Festival, which runs from October
14 to 21.
The importance of the ministerial meeting is unquestionable,
since it is in keeping with the strategy to combine multilateral
policies that would enhance relations among the member states
of this group of countries that are linked to the European
This political exercise can be perceived as a quest to build
trust and greater rapprochement among countries which work
in different areas to design and plan ways of achieving co-operation
for development in all the priority areas.
The ACP Group, which has existed for several years, has developed
a high degree of institutionality. It has deepened co-operation
in basic areas of development, with an emphasis on infrastructure,
education and health. Nevertheless, culture acquired greater
prominence and dynamism following the first ministerial meeting.
The functioning of the ACP can be considered as one of the
precursors for rapprochement among the countries of the Greater
Caribbean, since prior to the existence of this tricontinental
group, relations among Caribbean countries were rather limited,
given that each of the still existing groups were not necessarily
interested in their closest neighbour.
From our point of view, socialisation among Greater Caribbean
countries, within the ACP, was a crucial factor for the emergence
of the Association of Caribbean States, since these countries
were compelled to identify subregional similarities among
themselves, with a view to achieving improved negotiations
with their European counterparts, who were long-time advocates
for the consolidation of increasingly extensive blocs of countries.
The first African, Caribbean and Pacific Cultural Festival
represents a milestone in the history of its member countries,
not only due to its novelty but also since it reinforces the
idea of cultural diversity as a norm among peoples.
However, for the Caribbean in particular, it offers our peoples
the opportunity to establish direct contact with two of their
major cultural roots: Africa and the Pacific countries. This
importance stems from the fact that among these peoples, for
understandable historic reasons, there is still far more direct
contact with European culture than with African culture and
that of Pacific countries.
The festival covers broad aspects of cultural manifestation
such as: music, contemporary dance, traditional dances, visual
arts, concerts, ACP cinema, gastronomy, fashion, cultural
markets and meetings among professionals.
Such thematic diversity allows significant rapprochement among
the peoples represented, as well as mutual understanding between
culture professionals and leaders, which will undoubtedly
result in the strengthening of the national and regional identities
of all involved.
This festival serves as a tool to practise awareness and application
of cultural diversity and plurality, which are so crucial
in this era of global liberalisation, since, according to
UNESCO, no culture is an island.
The ACP countries have just created a remarkable instrument
to work for the benefit of rapprochement among peoples, since,
unlike other areas that need to be negotiated, the cultural
issue is a fait accompli that exists above our level of awareness
Therefore, it is a vector of unity, primarily for our region,
which is recognised as a cultural mecca in its significance
as a meeting point for several areas, since it is right here
in the Greater Caribbean where those other continental realities
Dr Rubén Silié Valdez is the secretary general
of the Association of Caribbean States. The views
are not necessarily the official views of the ACS. Comments
can be sent to: [email protected]