Creatives, civil societies join forces to advance democracy in West Africa

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), an independent civil society-led transnational democracy solidarity network, has urged collaboration between Civil Societies and Creatives to drive social change in the region.

Dr Kojo Asante of WADEMOS made the call at the launch of ‘DemoCreatives’, in collaboration with Yiaga Africa, Centre for Democracy Development-Ghana (CDD- Ghana), Africtivistes and AWO Hub, held at Victoria Island in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ‘DemoCreatives’ is an innovative initiative to collaborate with creatives to promote democracy.

NAN also reports that WADEMOS mobilises, coordinates, and leverages the collective power of civil society and other pro-democracy actors, resources, and opportunities within the West African region to advance, defend, and reinvigorate democracy.

They also promote democratic norms and reforms in the sub-region.

Asante, who is also a Senior Research Officer at CDD-Ghana, emphasised the need for civil societies and crea
tives to join forces to bring about social change in West Africa.

According to him, the region is in dire need of a new narrative, as many citizens feel disillusioned and hopeless.

He believed that creatives have a crucial role to play in inspiring change but noted that many had shifted their focus from activism to business in recent years.

To bridge the gap between civil societies and creatives, Asante suggested leveraging artist expressions to confront social challenges.

He cited the popularity of afro-pop music in Nigeria as an example, noting that musicians have the influence to shape people’s thinking and encourage them to take action.

Asante, therefore, urged civil societies and creatives to work together to keep the civil space open and encourage people to speak out against oppression.

Obianuju Udeh, a renowned Nigerian Disc Jockey, popularly known as DJ Switch, in her virtual keynote address, urged civil societies and creatives to come together, re-strategise, and make a meaningful impact.

rding to her, it is imperative that both parties join forces in the fight for democracy and human rights.

She emphasised the power of art in reflecting society’s trials, struggles, and dreams, and its ability to nurture critical thinking and empathy.

DJ Switch highlighted the historical impact of art on social movements, citing examples such as the late king of Afro beat, Fela Anikulapo’s music and the role of literature in exposing injustice.

She encouraged civil societies to reimagine their funding strategies and collaborate with creatives to amplify their message and reach a wider audience.

‘There is need for unity and strategic alliance between civil societies and creatives to combat the enemies of democracy and human rights.

‘We need to spend money to get the big guns to be involved. Art is not a luxury, it is a necessity for a dying democracy,

‘ she said.

Also, Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, said that democratic practices, not just labels, remained essential for a function
ing democracy.

According to her, Democreatives, is a movement that leverages art and creativity to promote democracy and good governance in West Africa.

‘Expression, a fundamental human right, is crucial for democracy, and this partnership seeks to protect and promote free expression and press freedom.

‘By working together, we hope to inspire hope and democracy in neighboring countries, leading to economic empowerment, inclusive growth, and development.

‘With WADEMOS leading the charge, this collaboration brings together artists, musicians, creatives, and civil society partners to advance democratic development in Africa,’ she said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria