Over the years, China-Africa cooperation has been overshadowed by economic and trade trajectories. Government-to-Government deals are the predominant activities we usually find in Sino-Africa related news narratives. Beyond this, one hardly comes across China-Africa partnerships that seek to specifically benefit Africa’s local arts and creative industry. But there is a new development in Kenya.
The Meru County government in Kenya, in collaboration with Africa China Culture and Art Gallery, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to empower artists in the region to improve skills and get better visibility for their art. The Meru County Governor, Kiraitu Murungi is reported to have said that the partnership will see accomplished artists train budding talent in Meru and offer them avenues to display their work nationally and internationally.
According to Nation, Kiraitu said “we are not looking at culture in the traditional way – people just enjoying themselves – we want to see this as a business. We want our people to earn money out of art and our culture. We want art to be a source of employment, job creation, and cash generation for our youth.” As part of plans, professionals will train the artists so that they can sharpen their skills for them to be more competitive and marketable.
“A number of artists who will excel in annual art exhibitions to be held locally will be taken to China to showcase their work through the gallery,” Murungu said. The Governor’s administration also plans to set up five studios and exhibition halls at Kinoru Stadium and near the Njuri Ncheke shrines in Nchiru to encourage art.
In his comments during the signing of the MoU at the county headquarters, Africa China Culture and Art Gallery’s Duan Hongliang said he was impressed by the array of items showcased at the county headquarters and pledged to work with the county government to provide platforms for exposure of the artists, Nation reported.
A Similar Partnership
In 2018, a U.K.-based Nigerian-British artist, Lanre Olagoke entered into an art, music, poetry, and fashion partnership with an Hangzhou, China-based businessman, Zhang Zonghua. The joint project agreement between Zhang who is the founder of Blue Cube Cultural Creation Park and Art Academy in Hangzhou, and Olagoke, founder of Art-Alive Arts Trust (AAAT) was in phases involve three countries.
That year, Olagoke explained that “we are starting with U.K.-China-Nigeria Cultural Exchange 2018 – 2019, which is aimed at using three of the biggest countries in the continents to enhance business and leisure… the take-off has started in Hangzhou, China, already, while the U.K and Nigeria events take off in the first quarter of next year,” Guardian Arts reported.
Can more of such partnerships improve the people-to-people relations in Sino-Africa engenament?
Have you subscribed to our newsletter yet? Sign up for updates on content and opportunities.