The Bandiagara Communities actively engage in the fight against the illicit trafficking of their cultural property and propose appropriate strategies

Bamako, Mali

Bandiagara, 14th and 15th November 2017 - The conference room of the Rennes-Dogon Plateau-Bandiagara Cooperation House hosted on Tuesday 14th November 2017, the opening ceremony of the capacity-building and awareness-raising workshop fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property. Some 20 key participants led the reflection on the phenomenon of looting and the illicit traffic of cultural property, and proposed action tracks in the form of recommendations to fight effectively against these two scourges.

The UNESCOs Office in Bamako organized the workshop, in collaboration with the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage and the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara. The opening ceremony was chaired by Mr. Siriman Kanouté, Prefect of the Bandiagara Circle, with Birama Diakon, Heritage Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Culture, representing the Minister of Culture, Mr. Modibo. Bagayoko, deputy program officer at the UNESCO Office in Bamako, representing the Head of the Office, Mr. Nouhoum Maiga, Secretary General of the Bandiagara City Council, representing the Mayor of Bandiagara, heritage experts and twenty or so tenants from camps, guides, security forces, magistrates, guardians of temples, elected officials, antique dealers, notables, media men, among others.                                                          
The Prefect in his address, thanked UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture, on behalf of the people of Bandiagara, for their support in the cultural renaissance of Dogon country. He acknowledged the recurring threat of illicit trafficking in cultural property in Dogon country. According to him, despite the remarkable progress made by UNESCO and its partners, in the context of the rehabilitation of Mali's cultural heritage, it must  be recognize  that there is still much to be done in terms of the protection and conservation of these cultural properties. "Our area is victim of several cases of robbery and illicit trafficking of these goods, and this workshop is timely, because it is necessary to equip communities to effectively fight against these scourges," he said. He declares.

 The representative of the Head of the UNESCO Office in Bamako, for his part, thanked the authorities of Bandiagara for their involvement in UNESCO's actions, as well as the Ministry of Culture, the communities, the training experts and participants for their effective accompaniment to the organization of the workshop. He recalled the urgency for Mali to strengthen existing mechanisms and the implementation of appropriate strategies that could help eradicate the destruction of archaeological sites and control the illicit trade in cultural treasures. "To combat the phenomenon, it seems obvious to gather the point of view of the local communities directly concerned by the phenomenon, with a view to defining and implementing local strategies that could better involve them in the implementation of plans and programs. Adopted by the Government and decentralized communities ", he insisted.

During two days of work, the participants shared their experience through presentations on the evolution of looting and illegal traffic on the sites and regions affected by these two scourges. The various group work and field visits have identified areas and strategies for effectively combating these two scourges. Some recommendations have been made, including: translation of legislative and regulatory texts into national languages; the inclusion of cultural heritage education in school curricula; the creation of income-generating activities for communities; strengthening regional cooperation between police and customs; the creation of a network or local committee to fight against looting and illegal traffic; the dissemination of laws and regulations to communities, the armed and security forces and the judiciary; the creation of brigades or local committees to monitor archaeological sites, among others.                   

 At the end of the proceedings, Mr. Baba Napo, President of the Bandiagara Tourist Guides and President of the Bandiagara Circle Youth, was satisfied with the results of the workshop. He thanked UNESCO for its support and acknowledged the important role of the people in this struggle. "There are people who take advantage of the crisis and the precariousness of families to loot our cultural property. This workshop is timely because it will allow us young people to continue to fight for the preservation of our property. We are aware that our cultural values, our identity and cultural good are irreplaceable and that to undermine them is to kill a people, "he said. It should be remembered that this workshop is being held as part of the implementation of the second phase of the Program for the Rehabilitation of the Cultural Heritage and the Safeguarding of Ancient Manuscripts in Mali, which benefits from financial support, particularly from the European Union.

Link photos:

You will be able to listen to the program on "Samedi actu" of Radio UN (Mikado FM), about the dangers that threaten the cultural heritage of Mali in the center and the north of the country. Guest, Fidèle Guirou, Coordinator of the Rehabilitation Program:

 Report Mikado FM: