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Published On: Thu, Oct 26th, 2017

UNESCO moves to protect Nigeria’s intangible cultural heritages

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By Ochiaka Ugwu

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization West African regional office in Nigeria may have concluded plans to safeguard Nigeria’s intangible cultural heritages such as oral tradition, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive event, knowledge and practices concerning nature and universe, and traditional craftsmanship knowledge and techniques.
This was contained in a release by the organization in Abuja yesterday titled: “Support to the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nigeria”
According to the statement, “Nigeria like many other countries of the world has numerous cultural heritages that give identity to the people and promotes its diversity. Unfortunately, not so much attention is accorded the intangible heritage in the country as we see in our tangible heritage.
“The intangible heritages, oral tradition, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive event, knowledge and practices concerning nature and universe, and traditional craftsmanship knowledge and techniques have great potentials in promoting human diversity, creativity, peaceful co-existence and inter-cultural trade that can result in sustainable means of livelihood and economic growth.
“Regrettably, not until 2003, our intangible cultural heritage have not enjoyed adequate attention to enable it derive and maximize its full potentials. The awareness of intangible cultural heritage are insufficient and do not have legal programmatic framework to protect them.
“As such, UNESCO in 2003 during her general conference passed the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is aimed at safeguarding the uses, representations, expressions, knowledge and techniques those communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, recognize as an integral part of their cultural heritage.
“Nigeria having ratified this Convention, showed significant commitment to Safeguarding Intangible Heritage and has embarked on several initiatives to safeguard heritage sites in the country. The challenges before now include inadequate legal and institutional frameworks, lack of funding, weak coordination amongst institutions, and lack of sufficient expertise and understanding the scope of the mechanism of the 2003 Convention” the statement stated.
It noted that the aim of the project was to lay a solid foundation to support Nigeria in its efforts to safeguard the living heritage available in the country within the framework of UNESCO’s global strategy for strengthening national safeguarding capacities.
Three communities of Niger, Oyo and Cross River States, were selected for pilot intervention. Major interventions such as: the revision of cultural policies and legal provisions, training on pilot inventorying and intangible cultural heritage; training on the elaboration of nomination files for inscription on the list of the 2003 Convention and request for assistance and an independent evaluation of the project were carried-out.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, Government of Japan, UN sister Agencies, UNESCO delegation, delegations from the three participating state (Niger, Oyo and Cross River) and a host of dignitaries are expected to grace the occasion.

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