Element Rituals and practices associated with Kit Mikayi shrine (Kenya) -Kangeso women group performing a dance during an open air forum at Kit Mikayi shrine© Josphat Githua, Kenya, 2015
Nine East African countries --Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda—are participating in the 14th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is meeting in Bogota, Colombia from 9 to 14 December 2019 in the framework of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
East African participants in the 14th Intergovernmental Committee Meeting
On 10 December, two intangible cultural heritage (ICH) elements from the region were inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
The rituals and practices associated with Kit Mikayi shrine concern the Luos of western Kenya. People visit the shrine for many reasons, including prayer oath-taking and other rituals. In times of disaster, Luo elders would conduct ceremonies there such as slaughtering animals, dancing and singing which were believed to produce rain and bountiful harvests. For generations, the community has relied on the Shrine as a sacred site. However, the element is now threatened by several factors including encroachment on surrounding areas, ageing practitioners and decreased frequency.
Sega tambour Chagos, Mauritius,
Sega tambour Chagos is one of the genres of Sega music of Mauritius, originating in the Chagos Archipelago. Like other Segas, it was born of slavery and is sung in Chagossian Creole. The element involves the rhythmic performance of music, song and dance based on the ‘tambour’, with lyrics concerning everyday experiences. While Chagossians have striven to safeguard the element, there are numerous threats to its viability, including the passing away of elders, young people turning to other music genres, and displacement leading to a loss of memory.
“The Eastern African region has been active in implementing the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention,” said Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. “UNESCO has been liaising closely with all 13 countries covered by our Regional Office to raise awareness of the urgent need to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, undertake needs assessments for capacity building in safeguarding intangible heritage, supporting inventories of ICH elements as well as the preparation of nomination files and requests for international assistance. We are also advocating for ratification by Somalia and recently translated the 2003 Convention into Somali to support awareness raising of the benefits of ratification by Somalia,” she added.