Following is the message by Secretary-GeneralKofi Annan to the eighteenth Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou,Burkina Faso (22 February - 3 March):
It is with great pleasure that I send you my greetings. I would like to pay tribute to the organizers of this biennial meeting, which has had an important influence throughout the continent and beyond. I would also like to acknowledge President Blaise Compaoré, the Government and people of Burkina Faso for their contribution to the development of African cinema.
Despite all the difficulties it faces, African cinema shows remarkable vitality. It is you, the film and television professionals, who have forged this reality through your talent, determination and hard work. You are simultaneously our surrogate imaginations and our unique witnesses to history as it is lived day by day. Through your stories and documentaries, you help us to better understand contemporary Africa - not only its problems but also the positive changes that are happening everywhere and are a real cause for hope.
Images are among the most powerful and influential means of communication, capable of rallying peoples to a cause. The United Nations needs you to keep making remarkable images. Indeed, without the participation of artists and all sectors of society, we will not be able to achieve the goals set by all the world's leaders at the Millennium Summit in September 2000: to free the world from fear and from want, and to protect our planet's resources.
By informing and educating your audiences, you can help us to mobilize the resources and energy needed to reach these goals, which are so vital to the continent's future. The creation of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development have raised new hopes. By putting your cameras at the service of the people, you can help breathe life into the vision of an Africa on the move towards the "millennium goals" and towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.
In that spirit, it gives me great please to say "long live FESPACO" and "long live African cinema"!