This is not the first time that we have worked in close conjunction with Fest’Africa. This literary festival held in Lille is also responsible for organising events that have had a considerable impact on literary reflection in recent years. This is no ordinary partnership, and we have even gone so far as to create an issue entitled « Writing slavery » (Africultures, issue 11) together. We published an issue entitled « Rwanda 2000 » in response to the « Ecrire par devoir de mémoire » [Writing as a duty to memory] project, which we felt called for a follow-up. We enthusiastically agreed to Nocky Djedanoum and Maïmouna Coulibaly suggestion that we dedicate an issue to the New congress of writers from Africa and the diaspora, which was held in N’Djamena towards the end of 2003, since the continent is currently facing challenges that make this historical issue burningly topical. Furthermore, it should logically feature on the programme of a journal that aims to provide an open venue for criticism and debate, and which tries to take an uncomplicated, upfront approach to creating a laboratory for reflection,w which is something that makes journals so vital in today’s climate.
We have a fundamental commitment to encouraging free speech. Africultures is a private endeavour and it is only worthwhile if we provide a veritable tool for creators, not only as a means of promotion but rather as a stimulus and source of collective reflection. When we succeed in this we become a wide-reaching vector for the understanding and recognition of cultural expressions, and thereby consolidate their contribution to their own societies and the world in general. Now events are catching up with us faster than we would have believed possible. There are a growing number of contradictions in the way alterity is integrated in France as it is by no means trouble-free. Africa has also produced its share of perversity. Our concern with keeping ahead the times means we naturally tend to focus on areas of conflict. Since the new quarterly format was launched, we have published issues on Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, cultural globalisation and publishing policy.
Should we turn towards those with the strongest voice? We are well aware that radicality can mask for reductive conservatism. It is a never-ending issue. The debate that was launched by Alain Mabanckou and Jean-Luc Raharimanana in the journal and on the website does not elaborate on the pros and cons of commitment. It expresses a deep concern with our presence and questions the means by which it can be improve. It very quickly becomes apparent that in addition to the texts and the creations themselves (in whatever form they might take) devoted men and women are taking very real risks in speaking out, because when art is neither ingratiating nor conservative it can be troublesome. It is a matter of proximity, of speaking about everyday life, of speaking about reality. Hence our decision to illustrate this issue with works by young Gabonese photographers, who capture and express their environment with impressive spontaneity (cf. p. 33).
Our correspondents in several African countries have received threats because of what they write. Their writing is being criticised for not portraying their country in a bad light. Nestled safely in our tranquil corner of France, the Africultures team only has to bear the financial risks associated with our adventure. Our commitment therefore takes the form of unpaid work and many a sleepless night as deadlines approach, with time spent developing the website and committee meetings during blizzards, etc. Our commitment is quite simply to ensure the on-going existence of Africultures. Given the prevailing morosity, we are also possibly driven by a desire to try and understand the world.
///Article N° : 5724