An African delegation visits China to learn from the country’s experiences in cultural management, Wang Kaihao reports in Shenzhen.
Last week, when Beninese fashion designer Sonia Damala saw a digital exhibition of frescoes from the Mogao Grottos at Artron Art Center in Guangdong province, she was impressed by the prevalence of digitization in Chinese museums.
The use of virtual reality in the show in Shenzhen city made her experience even better.
While Damala and many other people from Africa have had some exposure to China’s rich cultural traditions, they can now learn more about the country’s cultural management in modern times through the One Thousand People Plan, a Chinese government project that aims to train African officials and others related to culture.
“I am thoroughly excited,” Damala said in Shenzhen earlier this month. “It is great to see a mix of high-tech channels while presenting an exhibition on traditional culture.”
Such shows will encourage Africans to adopt better methods for the inheritance of their own cultures, she added.
Damala was among the 30 delegates from 10 Frenchspeaking African countries, who came to China on Dec 4 on a weeklong training program on cultural creativity in Shenzhen.
The program was part of the three-year Chinese Ministry of Culture project to help African countries to train 1,000 people by the end of 2018.
President Xi Jinping proposed the plan at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December last year.
During the Shenzhen program, delegates visited the country’s leading cultural enterprises in the city, including internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, art printer and database provider Artron, and top animation company Huaqiang. They also attended lectures and events.
“We have seen that many abandoned factories have been turned into art zones,” says Adama Diallo, an exhibition curator and art agent from Senegal, who was also on the team.
“Such experiences of Shenzhen offer us new ideas to make full use of our current venues to promote fine art, like building artists’ villages,” he adds.
More cooperation between China and Africa will follow, he says.
For these cultural promoters, the project is also a way to change any stereotypes about Chinese culture that may exist in African societies.
“In the 1960s, when I was a small kid, I often watched Chinese films, which were screened outdoor in my village,” recalls Martial Goualebanzoume, an art designer for museums with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Congo.
For most people in his homeland, for example, that was the first time when they had a “clear view of how China looks”, says the designer, who was also visiting China.
But there are still many people in Africa whose impressions of China are caught in time, he says.
Goualebanzoume considers it an opportunity to let people know about the development of modern Chinese culture by sharing his experiences in Shenzhen.
“African cultures are so diverse,” Goualebanzoume says. “When we organize exhibitions, we often want to expose them all. Nevertheless, Shenzhen’s experiences have told us that we’d better choose a relatively small angle and refine the cultural products with more expertise.”
Henri Randrianierenana, a theater manager from Madagascar who was also on the team, says the rise in digital devices in his country has enabled youth to better understand modern Chinese culture.
“In Madagascar, young people are also glued to their smartphones all the time, much like the scenario in China,” he says.
“I am sure that if (video) games and social network apps from Shenzhen were introduced to Madagascar, they would be extremely popular.”
People long held stereotypical perspectives of China because the world’s traditional media, which is dominated by the West, projected China in such images. But new technology has now created the space for Chinese and Africans to communicate directly and better, he says.
With more Africans understanding Chinese culture better, Randrianierenana says a mechanism to send more Chinese cultural professionals to Africa will also become necessary.
Contact the writer at wangkaihao@ chinadaily.com.cn
promote comprehensive partnerships between China and Africa.
From martial arts and intangible cultural heritage protection to museum management, the program offers a wide range of choices to trainees.
Before being held in Shenzhen early this month, the sessions were imparted at martial arts schools, art hubs, universities and other cultural institutions in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, and the provinces of Henan, Liaoning and Sichuan.
The China Cultural Centers in the African countries of Benin, Mauritius, Egypt, Nigeria and Tanzania are holding training sessions, which have attracted more than 200 participants.
African delegates visit an incubator for young entrepreneurs in Qianhai, an economic development zone in Shenzhen.
African trainees experience interactive multimedia facilities promoting traditional Chinese culture in Broad Link Cultural & Creative, a design company based in Shenzhen.