Twenty-five Authors, Fourteen Countries in One Original Compilation

Download the book! HERE

Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Although a recognised freedom, it is viewed and experienced in different ways, depending on its discipline, the country in question and also historical precedents. Sometimes biased and violated, sometimes honoured and often misunderstood, freedom of expression is much more complicated to explain and defend in practice, particularly in Africa.

In September 2014, Arterial Network, through its Artwatch Africa project, launched a call for contributions from writers, journalists and researchers from across the continent to share their opinions and knowledge on this broad topic. After months of committed work, a collection of selected writings was brought together to produce an original compilation titled How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa.

The free e-book includes emerging and established authors from diverse backgrounds, such as the celebrated Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop who contributed the short story ‘Une journée parisienne’ that takes us into the world of the fictional character, Dembo Diatta, who is pushed to the edge after the Charlie Hebdo attack and struggles to hold his tongue with friends he has had for twenty years.

Also included is an essay by the late Chenjerai Hove of Zimbabwe. Titled ‘Beautiful Words Are Subversive, ’ the essay offers the writer’s personal reflections, on politics, what it is to be an artist, his questions and his aspirations:

"Subversive art is that art which makes the viewer, the reader, feel newly persuaded to question the way they have always thought the world is organised, the world of values. To write is to create new values, to move from old spaces into the realm of new spaces of the imagination. A book, and any effective piece of art, searches for new spaces in order to enrich them while at the same time enriching the old spaces by removing the rust of the imaginative spaces of the old."

Freedom and its Limits
The political aspects of freedom of creative expression are discussed at length in the book through a multitude of texts, such as ‘The Art and Artists of Sudan: A History of Harassment” by Mohamed Abusabib or the analysis of Professor Patrick Ebewo that poses the limits of freedom of creative expression when it comes to the responsibilities of artists as public personas, explored in ‘Freedom of Creative and Artistic Expression in the Performing Arts: A Critical Reflection.’

Responsibility is a topic of debate that the South African judge, Albie Sachs, also explores in his contribution to the book, writing that: "In some respects, the conscience of the writer might be more expansive than the limits of the law and even defy the law. In other respects, it’s narrower than the law. In a democratic society that protects free speech and freedom of artistic creativity, you have a general responsibility to stay within the limits of the law. But your responsibility does not begin and end with what is constitutionally permissible. In a society based on the principles of human dignity, equality and freedom, writers are called upon to honour their fellow human beings and show respect for their craft."

25 Authors, 14 Countries
The e-book was produced as part of the Artwatch Africa project that aims to defend freedom of creative expression on the continent, and who better than the artists themselves to share their creative environment, their questions and their experiences.

In total, twenty-five authors representing fourteen countries were selected to be included in the compilation that will be available for free download on the Arterial Network website and through a multitude of different e-reader platforms, such as World Reader. It has been optimised for mobile, tablet and Kindle viewing.

How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa is above all a meditation on the artistic health of the continent, as lived and examined from twenty-five diverse, artistic viewpoints. This publication is a first for Arterial Network and it will be used as a tool to promote advocacy for freedom of expression and creative arts in Africa.

AuthorCato Litangen

Det er stor pågang til seminaret «Kunst som sosial drivkraft» 19. august under Arendalsuka. Arrangørene er stolte av å kunne invitere til et seminar med både foredrag og innspill fra ledende aktører i nasjonalt og internasjonalt kulturliv.

Arendal kulturforum, Mimeta, Arendal kommune, Aust-Agder fylkeskommune, Nordisk informasjonskontor og Sørlandets Europakontor har gått sammen om å invitere til kulturseminaret «Kunst som sosial drivkraft» under Arendalsuka. 

I løpet av seminaret blir det reflektert rundt hvordan kunst kan bidra til sosial vekst i lokalsamfunnet, og hva som skjer når kunsten er fraværende. Seminaret ser også på hvordan kunst kan føre til økt deltakelse og medskapning og hva som hender når kunst flyttes ut i et offentlig rom. Seminaret har et internasjonalt tilsnitt, og foredragsholdere fra både Norge, Europa og Afrika bidrar med sin kunnskap og erfaringer.

- Vi vil få mange internasjonale eksempler på kunstens rolle i det offentlige rom, demokratiseringsprosesser og andre sosialt orienterte prosesser, sier leder for Mimeta, Cato Litangen, som forteller at kunstnere og kulturaktører fra både Tunisia, Syria og Uganda stiller til samtale på seminaret.

Videre forteller han at både Norsk kulturråd, Nordisk kulturfond og European Cultural Foundation medvirker i programmet.  Seminararrangørene er stolte over å ha fått dyktige innledere og foredragsholdere på plass, som:

Bård Folke Fredriksen, statssekretær fra Kulturdepartementet
Trude Schjelderup Iversen, kurator i KORO (Kunst i offentlige rom),  
Tone Hansen, leder i Norsk kulturråd
Kristin Danielsen, direktør i Norsk kulturråd
Svein Harberg, stortingspolitiker (H) og leder av familie- og kulturkomiteen på Stortinget
Harm-Christian Tolden, kommunaldirektør i Bergen kommune,
Mats Aronsen, festivalleder i Canal Street
Benny Marcel, direktør i Nordisk kulturfond,
Philipp Dietachmair, programme manager European Cultural Foundation
Cecilie Willoch, avdelingsdirektør kulturseksjonen i UtenriksdepartementetJan Jaap Knol, direktør Dutch Cultural Participation Fund
Peter Rorvik, festivalprodusent og leder Arterial network
Faisal Kiwewa, festivalprodusent fra Uganda
Per Kvist, dekan for kunstfag Universitetet i Agder
Ellen Aslaksen, dekan Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo
Sofiane Ouissi, danser, produsent og kulturaktivist fra Tunisia
Abdullah Alkafri, skuespiller, produsent og kulturaktivist fra Syria

I forbindelse med kulturseminraet, åpnes også kunstinstallasjonen «The Pen is Mightier than the Sword» av Chris Swift, som er en hylles til Nelson Mandela på Teaterplassen dagen før kulturseminaret. Det arrangeres også hagefest etter kulturseminaret i Kolbjørnsvik.

For ytterligere informasjon, kontakt:
- Cato Litangen, daglig leder i Mimeta, mobil 40 64 80 83, e-post:
- Linda Sætra, kultursjef i Arendal kommune, mobil 995 78 303, e-post:
- Hilde Lona, daglig leder Nordisk informasjonskontor Sør-Norge, e-post

AuthorCato Litangen

Since our inception in 2008, Mimeta has been organized as a limited company with charitable statutes. 1st April 2016, the executive director of Mimeta, Cato Litangen, acquired all the company shares from Strømme Foundation and Vest-Agder Fylkeskommune (county council). As part of this change, Mimeta will move main office to Arendal, Norway, and there will be a new Board of Directors, headed by Mr. Pål C. Cristensen (lawyer). Mr. Anders Holm (civil engineer) and Marianne Woie (senior teacher) will take positions as members to the board. It will be extended by 4 members within short term.  

Mimeta will continue within existing mission and main strategy, and build further upon a well established international network. Our work for culture sector development, access to free arts and cultural participation - is based in universal human rights. 



AuthorCato Litangen