Namibia host session on Intangible Cultural Heritage

24 Sep 2015 10:40am


Namibia in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will host the tenth session of the intergovernmental committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) later this year.

This will be the second time that the meeting is held on the African Continent after Kenya hosted the fifth session in 2010. This year's session is expected to attract about 1 000 delegates from different parts of the world, to discuss the importance and maintenance of cultural practices and expressions that demonstrate the diversity of a nation.

Officiating at its launch in the capital on Tuesday, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said the convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH came as a result of awareness about the scourge of globalization, which is currently threatening the existence of numerous unique cultural practices worldwide.

The convention seeks to protect and safeguard each and every individual culture found around the world, with a particular emphasis on those of state parties, such as Namibia who are bound to the convention and where the implementation of the convention is obligated.

She said Namibia, with its diverse cultural groups, is rich in ICH elements with 13 elements listed in the National Inventory (NI), adding that many more elements have been identified for the NI, however more research and documentation has to take place for them to become part of the list.

The elements in the NI, she noted, have been selected to safeguard cultural practices that are threatened, to ensure respect for the owners of the elements and to raise awareness and mutual appreciation for ICH.

"Therefore, I am extremely proud that Namibia has the honour to not only represent itself, but the African continent as a whole, to highlight the very importance of protecting its unique ways of practising essential activities found in its myriad of diverse cultures, which have been passed on from generation to generation," Hanse-Himarwa stressed.

The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was passed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2003. Also speaking at the same occasion, Representative of UNESCO to Namibia, Jean-Pierre Ilboudo said the increased recognition of intangible heritage has brought to light its undervalued status within the museum and heritage sector, and raised questions about safeguarding efforts, ownership, protective legal frameworks authenticity and how global initiatives can be implemented at a local level where most ICH is located.

"These questions, ladies and gentlemen, is what the Namibian cultural sector will continue to ponder for decades to come and should be at the centre of our local intervention in as far as the Intangible Cultural Heritage is concerned," he noted.

The tenth session of the intergovernmental committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage will be hosted in Namibia from 30 November 2015 till 04 December.