A preparatory meeting for a forum on 'Cultures, identities of peoples and development in Africa and the Black Diaspora' began yesterday (27 September 2010) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The initiative is being promoted by the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of peoples, while the forum itself is due to be held in Abidjan in March 2011.
"This year Africa is celebrating fifty years of independence of many countries from colonial rule", reads an English-language communique released by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
"How far has this culturally rich and diverse continent, made up of different colours and hues, profited from independence? What mark has development made on people's lives and how has globalisation impacted the cultures of the continent?"
"The Pontifical Council for Culture in collaboration with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples aims to create a forum with representation from different ecclesiastical, international and non-governmental organisations in order to find ways and strategies through which development can be promoted while focusing on the human person made in the likeness and image of God".
The forum is also intended "to become a permanent place of reflection, for concrete proposals for a cultural and educational engagement which will promote a body concerned with development in Africa".
Among those participating in the preparatory meeting, which ends on 1 October 2010, are Fr Barthelemy Adoukonou, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Also taking part will be Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, president of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (CERAO) and vice president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and other bishops and theologians, as well as diplomatic representatives from Ivory Coast and Benin.