Heya Nouakchott, creative city
1. Tevragh Zeina and culture
Tevragh Zeina has an area of 83 km² and approximately 61,893 inhabitants, 38.18% of which are aged 15-40. The municipality is home to almost all public executive and legislative authorities, diplomatic missions, international organizations and the most important national socio-economic infrastructures. It has an important partnership with Assalamalekoum Cultures, a leader NGO for the cultural action based in Tevragh Zeina.
The absence of a local cultural policy led to federate a conglomeration of local actors and partners from “Ségou creative city”. In line with the municipal development plan, our approach is based on a strategic orientation of cultural and artistic development, the structuration of the sector, and the formulation of a cultural policy anchored in the promotion of the plural cultural identity of communities.
The context of the project is multicultural and multilingual which often leads to tensions between communities. It supports innovative young people in the territory through the involvement of young people and especially women entrepreneurs connected with Africa and the rest of the world. This induces another axis of our local cultural work is therefore dedicated to integration and intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention.
The project also includes an advocacy action and envisages the development of national action plans for the implementation of Agenda 21 for culture. It is fully in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s vision for 2063 of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, led by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force on the international stage”.
The project aims to develop collaborative spaces for intercultural dialogue and active citizenship via education and professional artistic support.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The project aims to develop collaborative spaces for intercultural dialogue, active citizenship and intercommunity relations, via education and professional artistic support in close connection with digital technology for sustainable development. It aims at enhancing and supporting the position of the creative value in the local communities, and make culture one of the pillars of the advancement of society.
The project is a driving force for creating collaborative and participatory dynamics by putting women at the heart of development actions through arts and culture. It responds concretely to the problem of a youth in search of a job, and participates in the standardization of cultural professions which are still in the informal sector.
2.2. Project development
“Heya Nouakchott: Tevragh Zeina, Creative City” plans to design a multidisciplinary project whose objective is to promote the creative and innovative facet of Tevragh Zeina City. We work on a concept of expression of the artistic practice to awaken the cultural curiosity of the city, in an approach presenting “Art as food”:
- Music and Visual Arts as food for the soul
- Cinema, literature and debates of ideas as food of the spirit
- Gastronomy and local crafts as food for the body
Over two years, 2018-2020, meeting with the actors or people who daily accompany the local social transformation, in particular street vendors, music dealers and craftsmen, we plan to intervene on the structuring of the market by creating Distribution points to settle and fix hawkers who offer musical productions. The aim is to create a legal distribution of national music production against the piracy, and encourage local production involves setting up a place of creation, diffusion and production. In this sense, our final objective is to have the “House of the Youth” called “DAAR CHEBAB” established by the end of 2022, as a space for residencies and hosting refugee artists. The overall aims are:
- To network with African cities that have coherent and sustainable policies that promote the arts as a means of contributing to economic growth, social cohesion, improved quality of life.
- To consolidate and expand existing arts circuits and develop and promote new cultural tourism circuits as a means of selling local creative work and providing longer-term opportunities for artists, youth and women.
- To support, build and consolidate financial, organizational and leadership capacity within local government and actors responsible for arts and culture.
- To market our city and its events nationally, regionally and internationally as platforms for local creative expression.
- To seek and promote art in all local schools.
- To arrange cultural tours, exchanges and residencies for experienced and emerging arts managers to learn from, and to impart knowledge to, other festivals.
The specific expected results concern the training of young people, the professionalization of cultural actors, local governments and the enhancement of Mauritanian cultural heritage, in particular that of current disciplines mentioned above. Finally, the results also concern bilateral and decentralized cooperation, the organization of international and national events where social ties are the driving force behind exchanges and collaborations
The project is a driving force for creating collaborative and participatory dynamics by putting women at the heart of development actions through arts and culture.
3.1. Direct impacts
In 2022 we established the basis of a long-term partnership between the city and Assalamalekoum Cultures to monitor the cultural centres in the region. As pilot model we started with engaging the youth in the region for dialogue and discussing to determine the needs and desired goals of this centre, as well as involving them in construction and equipment operations. On the other hand, a group of young people is being prepared and qualified to run the centre.
A steering committee from the Assalamalekoum Cultures organization will join forces with representatives of local cultural associations and representatives of the city and partners (Ministry of Employment, Youth, Ministry of Culture, French Institute, Alliance Française, elected officials, private individuals), who constitute the collaborators of strategic orientations. A close and regular link will be established between Assalamalekoum and its focal points in the city’s districts, organized in the form of youth collectives.
The project, which is planned over ten years, is only a pilot phase during which Assalamalekoum Cultures and the municipality support the establishment of cultural structures while boosting the movement Artistic in Nouakchott. In the long term, we can expect extensions in other districts. We have proposed to the Director of the Museum to see to what extent we could launch a partnership. An experiment is already under way in this area between the Museum and the vendors.
A group of young people is being prepared and qualified to run the centre.
4. More information
Nouakchott was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Kane Limam, Chief Executive Officer of Assalamalekoum Cultures, Tevragh Zeina, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Contact: republik (at) hotmail.fr