Traditions from Kenya, Uganda and Venezuela inscribed for Urgent Safeguarding

The Isukuti dance of the Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya, the Male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango of central northern Uganda and the Mapoyo oral tradition (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) were inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding today.

The Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting in Paris until 28 November, inscribed these traditions due to their vulnerability and threats to their survival. These inscriptions bring to 38 the number of elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Its purpose is to help States mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure the transmission of the cultural practices inscribed with the participation of the communities concerned.

Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya

The Isukuti dance is a traditional celebratory performance practised among the Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya. It takes the form of a fast-paced, energetic and passionate dance accompanied by drumming and singing. A vehicle for cultural transmission and harmonious coexistence between families and communities, it is performed on numerous occasions throughout people’s lives. Transmission of Isukuti dance is weakening, however, and frequency of performances is diminishing. Many of the dancers are elderly and lack successors, and the young prefer contemporary entertainment over traditional Isukuti dances.

Male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango of central northern Uganda

The male-child cleansing ceremony, performed among the Lango people of central northern Uganda, is a ritual for a male child believed to have lost his masculinity. The child and mother remain in the house for three days, and then undergo a series of rituals involving the family to cleanse the child, promote reconciliation and restore his social status. Many bearers of the ritual are aged, however, and the practice is increasingly performed in secrecy for fear of excommunication.

Mapoyo oral tradition and its symbolic reference points within their ancestral territory, Venezuela

The oral tradition of the Mapoyo and its symbolic points of reference within the ancestral territory encompass a body of narratives that constitute the collective memory of the Mapoyo people. It is symbolically and permanently linked to a number of places along the Orinoco River in Venezuelan Guayana. Tradition bearers recount the narratives while carrying out their daily activities, reinforcing the self-identification of the community. Transmission is endangered by outward migration, land encroachment by the mining industry, and diminishing use of the Mapoyo language.

Also, Safeguarding the carillon culture preservation, transmission, exchange and awareness raising (Belgium) was added to the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices. The Register allows States Parties, communities and other stake holders to share successful experiences and examples of how they surmounted challenges in the transmission of their living heritage.

The Committee is scheduled to proceed with the inscription of elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Wednesday.

                                                     ****

Journalists wishing to cover the Committee session (UNESCO, Room I, 125, avenue de Suffren, Paris) are requested to contact UNESCO’s Press Service for accreditation.