The month of record

Cape Verde: CCIs at the heart of business model

 Cape Verde, a good performer on governance, is also the same in terms of policies to enhance its cultural heritage and promote creative industries. With a deliberately pan-African approach. 

The omnipresence of the soul of Cesaria Evora in Mindelo, the cultural capital of the Cape Verde archipelago, where the “Barefoot Diva” was born, makes one quickly understand that the spirit of the place inspired her. With its own secular identity, fruit of the cultural mix between African and European influences, the shimmering architecture of its colorful houses, and the numerous melodies – from fado to samba through more urban sounds – that punctuate its days, the city seems to evolve in a parallel universe, as if out of time. Beyond this first impression, the visitor discerns another reality: the second city of the country is today undergoing rapid changes, driven by a community of artists and by political leaders who see in it the best ambassador of the Cape Verdean culture. 

 « Our image has been built by others and disseminated in the continent. We must correct and spread out a positive image of Africa»

In fact, the creative disciplines present in this municipality of the island of São Vicente can be described as an inventory in the Prevert: fashion, handicrafts, plastic arts, audiovisual production, graphics, video games … A unique heritage, the Cape Verdean authorities are determined to highlight by placing the archipelago that is ideally located between the West African coasts and the Atlantic as the African cultural capital. “Africa is a vast and very diverse continent, but with a real image problem. Our image has been built by others and disseminated in the continent. We must correct and spread out a positive image of Africa,” urged José Gonçalves, former Minister of Tourism, Transport and Maritime Economy of Cape Verde. We have huge potential in terms of tourism, but investment is needed in our infrastructure, for which we need stability … And ultimately, create opportunities to ensure Africans find more when they stay in Africa than the reverse.”

But to achieve these ambitions, an entire ecosystem needs to be built, from training schools to textile factories, including studios and production houses. The objective is to lay the foundations of a real industry. This could find its center of gravity in Mindelo, which is already home to the Floating Hub, a production and entertainment center for contemporary music, arts and culture designed by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi. 

One million euros invested to enhance the heritage 

As such, several projects have been launched as part of the national strategy for the promotion of culture.   Among these, the opening of a cultural center that focuses on design and crafts; a one-million-euro project fully funded by the Cape Verdean government that aims at enhancing heritage. “We are also working to formalize the professions associated with art and culture,” explains the Minister of Culture and Creative Industries of Cape Verde, Abrão Vicente. He adds: “Artists and creators have very fragile careers because they have no social security, do not pay taxes. Moreover, at a moment in their life, they find themselves dependent on the help of the State”, notes the political official.

 « We need to value Africa’s contribution to the cultural and creative industry market»

One issue remains at the heart of the concerns of both the authorities and the players in the sector; it is the protection of copyrights. In this respect, and for the past three years, Cape Verde has adhered to all international treaties relating to the protection of copyright. A new law was also recently adopted to this effect, which funds, inter alia, the entities managing intellectual property. We need to value Africa’s contribution to the cultural and creative industry market, which is why the issue of intellectual property is fundamental,” says Abrão Vicente. The global collection of copyrights is estimated at 7 billion dollars per year; an amount from which Africa receives only 290 million. This is why African countries need to get organized to have management entities that deal with the collection of these amounts.

In the meantime, the archipelago is waging with its peers in the continent another battle, that of the restitution of African artefacts. “Cape Verde has signed the agreement on the restitution of works of art, and intends to be part of the group that will carry this project internationally. The main objective is to work at the pan-African level, and to show an Africa with leaders who are aware of their rights at the international level. It is for this reason that Cape Verde strengthens its presence in international organizations such as UNESCO,” he further indicates.

“Those who wish to restitute their artefacts must assume responsibility and build national museums able to receive them»

He added: “I believe that works of art should be returned to their country and place of origin. Those who wish the restitution of their works must assume the responsibility and build national museums able to receive them. That is why Cape Verde will lobby with African multilateral organizations to mobilize funds for the restitution of the works. If Benin wants to recover its works, it is not only the responsibility of Benin but also of all African countries to help Benin. The new African history will not be made without the restitution of the works that were looted. We must realize that the physical presence of these works is part of the African cultural heritage.

In this regard, Cape Verde, which finances its projects with its own funds, is providing adequate resources to achieve its ambitions. “If Cape Verde is an example of success in the construction of infrastructure, it can also influence other countries, says the minister. The same goes for Senegal which, with its Museum of Black Civilizations, meets all the conditions to be a museum of international reference. After the restitution, we must have the ability to market and publicize these museums and these African works. The Statue of Liberty is not prettier than the Renaissance Monument in Dakar. But if the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame are known throughout the world, it is because France is marketing them. It is also necessary that African countries invest today in this field. This is easier through the digital tools we now have. And we can do it collectively. »

« Positively promoting our identity»

“Culture is not a matter of amateurs,” concluded Minister Abrão Vicente. Cape Verde is the first country to have opened a cultural center in Europe, with this objective of catalyzing investment and positively promoting our identity. Because culture, far from being just entertainment, is also the vector of a history, an identity and a heritage.