During its 36th General Assembly, the UNESCO General Conference proposed that the period 2013-2022 be proclaimed as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. This proposal was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 2012. The new International Decade provides a unique occasion to reaffirm the ideals of a plural humanity where cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue are mutually reinforcing, and where international cooperation can be enhanced through education, the sciences, culture and communication and information, bringing about a real rapprochement of cultures and countries. Activities during this Decade are expected to nurture social inclusion and intercultural dialogue in order to improve the world’s global understanding. Special emphasis has been placed on highlighting the role and empowerment of young women and men who have enormous possibilities of access to, and participation in, global conversations.
In support of this decade, and the promotion of a culture of peace, UNESCO is pleased to partner with the Addis Foto Fest 2014. One of the leading photo festivals in Africa, this event brings together artists from across Africa and the African Diaspora and creates an important platform through exhibitions, online networks, and media outlets that is changing the way people “see” Africa. This festival, which promotes another image of Africa on a global level, embodies UNESCO’s conviction that culture is an ideal vehicle to promote dialogue, tolerance, and mutual understanding.
With more than 90 artists from 42 countries from almost every Continent, the program of the 2014 edition highlights Addis Ababa’s important role as a hub for nurturing contemporary creative industries on a global level; Ethiopia, already well known as the leading country in Africa for the quantity of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is undergoing a transformation in the tourism sector and is rapidly becoming a champion in the Africa region in support of cultural tourism for sustainable development. Recently voted as the number 1 country to visit in 2014 by Rough Guides, AFF 2014 is testament to the fact that there is more to see in the country than these heritage sites. The booming music scene and Ethio-jazz, the rich intangible cultural heritage, and, as evident in leafing through this catalogue, the innovative and vibrant contemporary art and photography scene, are some of many reasons to call Addis Ababa a creative home. AFF 2014 is testament to the rich creative industries scene in Ethiopia and across the continent, but also solidifies Addis Ababa not only as the diplomatic capital of Africa, but as a crossroads for creativity, exchange, and contemporary culture.
UNESCO was founded on the principle that since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defenses of peace must be constructed. As Director of the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office, we are pleased to include Addis Foto Fest 2014 as part of events in support of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Culture and the promotion of a Culture of Peace.
Firmin Edouard Matoko
UNESCO Addis Ababa