Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
- 2005 brochure on UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust brochure English-Japanese
In 1993, following an agreement between UNESCO and the Japanese government, a special Funds-in-Trust was created aimed at assisting UNESCO in its actions in favour of intangible cultural heritage. Up to and including 2007, Japan’s total contribution to the Fund has amounted to approximately USD 12 millions. In particular, the Fund played an important role in the preparation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In accordance with the spirit of the Convention, the main focus of the Fund is currently given to activities, especially for developing countries and post-conflict countries, aimed at ensuring the viability of the intangible cultural heritage, including identification (inventories), transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education, protection, promotion, enhancement, documentation and research. The Fund also contributes to awareness-raising about and capacity-building in ratification and implementation of the Convention, especially in the Pacific region.
The various projects supported by the Fund provide examples and lessons learnt of the development and implementation of safeguarding projects in the field of intangible cultural heritage. The following list presents, by region, the projects and meetings that were possible thanks to contributions of the Japan Funds-in-Trust.
Safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of Nigeria through an integrated approach06-2014/06-2016, Nigeria
A needs assessment carried out in 2011 showed that the national capacities of Nigeria are not yet adapted to meet the requirements of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The aim of the project is to lay a solid foundation to support Nigeria in its efforts to safeguard the living heritage present in the country.
Thanks to the financial assistance of Japan, the national authorities are being accompanied by UNESCO over a period of three years in order to create an effective institutional and legal environment for the safeguarding of rich intangible cultural heritage that exists in Nigeria. The project will also allow the strengthening of national capacities required for participating in the intergovernmental mechanism of the 2003 Convention. In particular, the following main activities will be implemented:
- (a) the revision of cultural policies and legal provisions,
- (b) training on inventorying of intangible cultural heritage with communities in the States of Niger, Oyo and Cross River and
- (c) training on the elaboration of nomination files for inscription on the Lists of the 2003 Convention and requests for international assistance.
Planned as a part of UNESCO’s global capacity-building strategy, this project is implemented by the UNESCO multi-sectoral Regional Office for West Africa in Abuja in cooperation with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation.
Project brochure: English
Safeguarding traditional foodways of two communities in Kenya09-2009/03-2013, Kenya
Traditional foodways involve practices transmitted within a community concerning the preparation and consumption of food, including the provision of ingredients and the roles of all people involved. Traditional foodways, both those related to everyday life as well as those associated with special occasions (such as rituals, social practices and festive events) constitute an important part of the intangible heritage of communities everywhere in the world. In Kenya, as in many other countries, there is an ongoing tendency due to the pressure of modernization and urbanization to abandon traditional foodways and to eat more and more western style food. Many young people are no longer aware of the traditional foodways of their communities. In other words, the diversity of foodways and related knowledge about nature in Kenya is at risk.
The project aims to (1) identify and inventory traditional foodways in two communities in Kenya (Eastern Pokot in the Rift Valley Province and Isukha of the Western Province), (2) encourage these communities to appreciate traditional food practices. The project also aims at (3) raising awareness in Kenya about the endangered diversity of its traditional foodways and related knowledge about nature.
The core activities of the project include (a) the preparation of a questionnaire and general protocol to be used for fieldwork and training of two coordinators who will supervise the actual fieldwork, (b) fieldwork among their communities with the involvement of students (e.g. age 13 to 15) to identify traditional foodways, (c) the preparation, on the basis of the collected information, of practical inventories (including recipes) of the traditional foodways of the two selected communities, (d) adjustment of the questionnaire with general protocol, and preparation of an introduction to it on the basis of the obtained field experiences, for possible future use in other communities, (e) dissemination of information about the project once it will have been terminated successfully.
Safeguarding of the Ifa Divination system10-2006/04-2010, Nigeria
- Ifa divination system
Practiced among the Yoruba, Ifa divination relies on a complex system of signs, compiled in a literary corpus, that are interpreted by a diviner to guide important personal or collective decisions. The literary corpus is a treasury of knowledge concerning Yoruba history, philosophy, medicine and mythology.
This project aims at ensuring the intergenerational and peer transmission of Ifa through formalizing the transfer of knowledge of Ifa priests through the creation of a school. It intends to collect Ifa verses and medicinal recipes in order to ensure the quality of the training and to upgrade the existing documentation. Awareness-raising activities will be organized among the Yoruba to enhance their pride in their own culture as well as to inform people at large of the importance of Ifa.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Makishi Masquerade in Zambia10-2006/12-2009, Zambia
- Makishi masquerade
As part of initiation, boys leave their communities to live in a bush camp where they are taught practical skills as well as knowledge about nature, religion and social values. For their reintegration into the community, they perform the Makishi masquerade involving beautifully painted masks that represent different spiritual characters.
The safeguarding project seeks to:
- support the process of intergenerational and peer transmission of skills to younger generations, and
- promote awareness of the importance of safeguarding the Makishi Masquerade and the Mukanda among the Luvale community and among the Vaka Chinyama Cha Mukwamayi cultural grouping.
The activities include:
- capacity building for Zambian staff in the field of research and project management;
- advanced training workshops for Makishi masters to train the 8-12 year old aspiring young initiates; audiovisual documentation of knowledge and skills of Makishi masters; and
- measures targeted at raising public awareness through the formal education system and a national information campaign.
Safeguarding of the Gulu Wamkulu, the Great Dance of the Chewa People11-2006/12-2009, Malawi - Mozambique - Zambia
- Gule Wamkulu
Performed by the Chewa people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, the Gule Wamkulu is a dance that accompanies initiation ceremonies, weddings, funerals and the installation of chiefs. Male dancers wear full costumes and masks made of wood and straw, expressing a great variety of spiritual and secular characters.
This multinational project, coordinated by the Malawian National Commission for UNESCO, includes, among others, the following safeguarding activities:
- capacity building among master practitioners (training of trainers) and training workshops for young initiates through exchange programmes and the distribution of educational materials;
- awareness raising effort through inter-village, national and multinational festivals and joint radio and TV programmes;
- support to Malawian, Zambian and Mozambican staff for research, documentation and the creation of an inventory on Gule Wamkulu, collating resources of all three countries;
- encouragement of legal protection of intangible cultural heritage.
For monitoring and continuous exchange among three countries, a multinational safeguarding committee composed of tradition bearers, Chewa authorities, and the respective national implementation agencies in each country has been created.
Safeguarding the Chopi Timbila tradition in Mozambique11-2006/12-2009, Mozambique
- Chopi Timbila
The Chopi people of southern Mozambique are famous for their orchestras of up to thirty wooden xylophones of varying sizes and ranges of pitch. Each year, several new pieces are composed and performed at social festivities and other community events in combination with the energetic Timbila dance.
The objectives of the safeguarding project are to:
- enhance the quality and authenticity of the Timbila instruments; strengthen transmission to younger generations;
- ensure access to scientific documentation on the Chopi Timbila;
- create opportunities for performance and exchange for Timbila practitioners;
- enhance legal protections and promote the social and economic interests of Timbila tradition bearers.
The project is expected to strengthen national measures of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage; strengthen safeguarding capacities at local and national levels particularly among the Timbila; contribute to better understanding of the importance of protection of cultural diversity and the need to respond to challenges posed by modernization and globalization; and provide understanding of the need to preserve the natural environment and how its degradation may force changes in the life of communities and the ways they express their culture.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Vimbuza Healing Dance11-2006/12-2009, Malawi
- Vimbuza healing dance
Popular among the Tumbuka people, the Vimbuza is practised by renowned traditional healers in a special ritual. Patients slowly enter trance, while the audience performs songs to call helping spirits. Vimbuza is a useful complement to other forms of medical treatment.
The safeguarding project seeks to:
- encourage the transmission of skills and knowledge to younger generations, and
- raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding the Vimbuza as part of traditional health practices.
The action plan includes:
- legal protections and training Vimbuza healers on intellectual property rights;
- creating an inventory based on field research in close cooperation with the practicing community;
- organizing dance festivals, thematic workshops and discussion panels broadcast on radio and television;
- developing educational programmes for young museum visitors of Mzuzu Regional Museum; and
- distributing educational leaflets in the Chitumbuka language.
Action plan for the Safeguarding of the Ahellil of Gourara12-2006/09-2009, Algeria
- Ahellil of Gourara
The Ahellil is a series of collective chants performed at social gatherings and celebrations of the Berber-speaking population of the Gouara region. Starting with short well-known songs performed by the whole group, the performances build to a conclusion featuring the most accomplished singers.
The safeguarding action plan aims at/
- ensuring the viability of the Ahellil of Gourara through activities including the establishment of a “Committee for the Safeguarding of the Ahellil of Gourara” (CSAG) to implement the plan;
- encouraging transmission to younger generations by teaching Ahellil (initiation) in schools and colleges of Gourara;
- organizing training workshops on Ahellil music, poetry and choreography; identifying Ahellil bearers and conducting inventory-making and data collection?
- organizing an annual festival (with Jury and Awards) to promote the Ahellil; and
- creating a website and newsletter on Ahellil, supported by the production of audio and video materials.
Revitalization of bark cloth making in Uganda10-2006/08-2009, Uganda
- Barkcloth making in Uganda
The Mutaba tree provides the raw material for the delicate manufacture of bark-cloth. Produced for the royal family and other Buganda community members and highly recognized as a marker of cultural traditions, this precious cloth is worn at coronations and healing ceremonies, funerals and social gatherings.
The objectives of the safeguarding project are to:
- train craftspersons, especially young artisans, in making bark cloth; establish sustainable practices of using the Mituba trees;
- popularize the making and use of bark cloth; ensure legal protection and income generating activities; and
- promote recognition of and respect for the cultural value of bark cloth.
Training activities, to be widely publicized in the mass media and through public gatherings and events, are carried out to sensitize and train youth and communities generally in appreciating the cultural values in the techniques of planting and propagating the Mituba trees from which bark cloth is produced. A selected number of youth are to receive training on skills of bark cloth production.
Safeguarding of the ICH of the Batammariba of Koutammarkou04-2007/06-2009, Togo
Koutammarkou, a site in the North-East of Togo inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, shelters the Batammariba (“those who work the earth”) whose houses with turrets made of earth, the takyientas (“those who guard”), have become the symbol of Togo. This project aims at ensuring the safeguarding of the rich intangible cultural heritage of the Batammariba. That heritage, as well as the Litammari language is threatened by a number of factors. The project is a pilot for the integrated safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of a community living in a World Heritage site.
The project aims at
- ensuring the transmission of skills and knowledge linked to different aspects of the intangible cultural heritage of the Batammariba,
- reinforcing the language,
- promoting respectful tourism,
- facilitating access to information concerning the culture of the Batammariba and
- sensitizing the population at large to the importance of the living culture of the Batammariba.
Training on how to enact various practices and experiences will be organized through master-apprenticeship transmission. Manuals will be developed and materials for teaching the language of the Batammariba in primary schools will be produced. Local guides will be trained and a code of conduct and a map of sacred areas will be elaborated. Traditions and practices will be inventoried. An archive and a cultural centre will be created. Cultural weeks will be organized. At the end of the project, new methods of transmission will have been set up; teaching material on the Batammariba culture and the Litammari language will have been developed and will be used in primary schools; respectful tourism will have been encouraged; the cultural and linguistic diversity of Togo will have been reinforced. The integrated approach for protecting the tangible and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of one and the same community will have been tested.
Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage and its bearers in Burundi06-2008/05-2009, Burundi
The preparation of the inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of Burundi is enshrined in the framework of the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) adopted in 2003 by the UNESCO Member States.
This inventory is intended to identify oral traditions and expressions, poetry, performing arts (such as agasimbo, ingoma, intore, etc.), social practices, rituals and festive events (such as marriage, celebration of the birth of twins, etc.), knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe (medicine, etc.), as well as know-how linked to traditional craftsmanship (metalwork, pottery, basket-making, etc.). This inventory will take into account the cultural specificities of each region of the country.
The different elements of the ICH will be collected by local experts who will be identified on the basis of their training, experience and interest in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, choreography, literature and oral traditions, as well as rural history. The inventory will be made with the participation of practitioners, individuals, families and, generally, at the level of clan entities.
On the basis of the inventoried elements, awareness-raising of the population will be undertaken, particularly at the school and community levels through the organization of promotional activities. In the same vein, radio-TV programmes, followed by debates, will be organized on the basis of the inventory. The promotion of specific elements pertaining to the ICH will be ensured by the Club “génies en herbe” under the supervision of the Department of African Languages and Literatures of the University of Burundi.
The project will be implemented by the Department of African Languages and Literatures of the University of Burundi, under the supervision of the UNESCO Office in Bujumbura and of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
The main objective of the inventory being to contribute to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of Burundi, it will consist of:
- identifying elements of the intangible cultural heritage and
- promoting the identified heritage through various channels.
At the end of the project, Burundi will have at its disposal an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage, presented by type of expressions. The inventory will be disseminated through a publication as well as booklets among previously selected beneficiaries.
Safeguarding action plan of Yaaral and Degal11-2006/04-2009, Mali
- Cultural space of the Yaaral and Degal
Organized by the Peul community, the Yaaral and Degal festivals mark the twice-yearly crossing of the Niger river by herds of cattle. This seasonal migration gives rise to widely appreciated and varied celebrations and expressions, such as competitions for the most beautifully decorated herd, recitations of pastoral poems and songs.
This safeguarding project aims at enhancing knowledge and understanding concerning elements of the intangible cultural heritage at the local and national level and raising awareness of the local population and authorities to the importance of this cultural space.It will produce pedagogical materials for schools of the first cycle, reinforce capacities of the teachers, as well as produce and disseminate promotional materials and a code of ethical behaviour. The project will include documentation, research and fieldwork collection, along with awareness-raising encounters and exhibits as well as radio programmes.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Kankurang, Manding Initiatory Rite11-2006/04-2009, Gambia - Senegal
- Kankurang, Manding initiatory rite
The Kankurang is a protective spirit, embodied by a masked and costumed man, at the centre of a ritual system comprising songs, traditions and initiatory rites for young boys. The ritual ensures the transmission and teaching of complex know-how and practices underpinning Manding cultural identity.
This safeguarding project is designed to protect the natural environment in which the Kankurang ritual is practiced, to create meeting spaces or “museums of performance” for communities to practice and share their knowledge, to support an inventory of practices associated with the Kankurang in order to acquire a better knowledge of it, and to sensitize public opinion to its importance. It will therefore focus on establishing adequate management structures in both countries, creating two pilot centers in Kankurang areas and documenting and producing promotional materials. Protecting the natural environment in which the ritual is practiced will be ensured through classification of sacred forests, organizing training in protected areas management and replanting plant species indispensable to the ritual.
Safeguarding traditional games of the Afar and the Somali people in the Horn of Africa12-2006/03-2009, Djibouti
Traditional board games have long been an important pastime among the nomadic societies of the Horn of Africa. Practice and transmission of these games is now at risk, though, as a result of urbanization and the effects of globalization.
This safeguarding project aims at revitalizing the transmission of the knowledge and skills related to traditional board and ball games in the Horn of Africa. The rules of the games as well as their origins and functions will be researched, and kits and manuals on these games will be published and distributed. The project will organize workshops and tournaments in order to increase transmission by practitioners and continued practice of traditional games by young people. Public information and awareness-raising will also be done through the media.
Safeguarding the Mbende Jerusarema Dance11-2006/03-2009, Zimbabwe
- Mbende Jerusarema dance
A popular dance style practised by the Zezuru Shona people living in eastern Zimbabwe, the Mbende Jerusarema is characterized by acrobatic and sensual movements by women and men, driven by a polyrhythmic drummer accompanied by men playing woodblock clappers and by women handclapping, yodelling and blowing whistles.
The safeguarding project aims at strengthening the transmission process by,
- organizing workshops for master practitioners and training teachers,
- providing opportunities for youth to learn the dance and be introduced to its history and meaning.
- conducting research and audiovisual documentation of the traditional dance forms and repertoire of movements, accompanied by interviews of practitioners;
- promoting dance among young people in and outside the Murewa and UMP communities, through soliciting the participation of youth dance groups at local schools in the Jukinya and the National Schools Festival for traditional dance.
The safeguarding activities will be decentralised and implemented by local organizations and the Mbende Jerusarema Safeguarding Committee composed of master practitioners, local dance associations, traditional authorities and education experts.
Safeguarding the Songs of the Moon, traditional Swahili music from Tanzania (Unguja and Pemba) and the Comoros04-2008/03-2009, Comoros - United Republic of Tanzania
Taarab music is a traditional form of Swahili cultural expression. Popularly known as Swahili wedding music, taarab musicians and music are an essential part of various multi-day festivities in Zanzibar. Complementary to the activities implemented by UNESCO Dar es Salaam in 2005-2007 in the village of Mahonda and Pemba island– rural areas of the islands of Zanzibar, the project aims at further safeguarding the taarab music in Zanzibar and the Comoros by strengthening the teaching of traditional music styles in remote areas.
The immediate objective is to create, through the expansion of the school of the Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA), an Zanzibarian NGO, and musical exchanges between Zanzibar and the Comoros, a permanent opportunity for local musicians to be instructed and to share their knowledge.
Through the project, it is expected that,
- the music activities and employment opportunities for local musicians in remote areas be strengthened;
- musical tradition be preserved, intergenerational dialogue furthered; and
- CD as recorded during the documentation of musical exchanges between musicians be produced.
Safeguarding traditional Somali performing arts04-2008/03-2009, Kenya - Somalia
Before the civil war Somalia enjoyed a vibrant cultural life, in which traditional performing arts played a major role. Aware of the role that cultural practices may play in fostering social cohesion and in reconciliation processes in future post-conflict Somalia, the project aims to
- identify traditional performing arts practices of Somali people with a view to safeguarding this heritage,
- highlight the role that cultural practices can play in reconciliation process for the post conflict Somalia, and
- contribute to the rehabilitation of Somali culture.
Core activities of the project include:
- the identification of traditional performing arts of Somali communities in the North Eastern Province in Kenya;
- the preparation of a draft inventory of those traditions; and
- the acquisition of extant audiovisual materials related to traditional performing arts of Somali people.
Preservation, Revitalization and Promotion of Jemaa el-Fna Square, Marrakech03-2004/12-2008, Morocco
- Cultural space of Jemaa el-Fna Square
Dating back to the fourteenth century, the triangular Jemaa el-Fna Square has become the symbol of Marrakech, protected as part of Morocco’s artistic heritage since 1922. It features a unique concentration of traditions, such as storytelling, healing and various forms of entertainment as well as commercial activities.
The project consists of pedagogical workshops, which have been organized in several schools around Marrakech. The preparatory work necessary for archiving and creating databases has started. Books and educational materials about the cultural space will be published, and a website will be designed.
The project aims to raise awareness within schools as well as in communities at the national and international levels. It also expects to facilitate the transmission of knowledge to younger generations and document the intangible cultural heritage elements associated with this cultural space.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding and Promotion of the Oral Tradition of Gelede10-2003/11-2008, Benin - Nigeria - Togo
- Oral heritage of Gelede
The Gelede ceremony, held in honour of the primordial mother Iyà Nlà, is directed by women, reflecting their important role in Yoruba life. After weeks of preparations, singers and drummers open the night-time ceremony, followed by an orchestra and masked dancers wearing splendid costumes.
The project aims at safeguarding the Gelede tradition in communities across Benin, Nigeria and Togo. Following the initiatives of the government of Benin, which has constructed the International House of Gelede, the project encompasses: awareness-raising campaigns; training workshops for young people and seminars for master practitioners devoted to dance, choreography, sculptural techniques and costume making; publications on the Gelede cultural tradition and an international symposium.
To date, awareness-raising and information campaigns have been carried out in various communities in Benin, Nigeria and Togo, supported by promotional radio programmes. A partnership between the Association Groupe Gèlèdè de Savè and the University of Ifè in Nigeria has been established, and the first training workshops for masters and apprentices have been carried out in Kétou and Kilibo (Benin), generating an increased community interest for further training programmes.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding and Revitalization of the Oral Tradition of the Aka Pygmies of the Central African Republic12-2004/07-2008, Central African Republic - Congo
- Polyphonic singing of the Aka Pygmies of Central Africa
The polyphonic songs of the Aka Pygmies are an integral part of their hunting and life-cycle rituals, a tool of communication and reaffirmation of community values. With socio-economic changes, deforestation and rural exodus, the Aka traditions are inclined to gradually disappear.
The project began with field research focused on documentation and anthropological data collection in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo. A database on the oral tradition of the Aka Pygmies was then created, which will be accessible to national and international researchers as well as the communities concerned. A subregional festival of the Aka Pygmies’ music and dance will be organised, in addition to training seminars and radio and national television programmes.
This project will contribute to sensitizing the populations of both countries and enrich their national identity, enabling them to obtain more knowledge about the intangible heritage of the Aka Pygmies and, ultimately, encouraging cultural dialogue and the cultural integration of the Aka Pygmies in subregional Central Africa.
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Sosso-Bala07-2002/06-2008, Guinea
- Cultural space of Sosso-Bala
A sacred symbol of freedom and identity of the Manding community, the Sosso-bala is a wooden xylophone or balafon played on occasions such as the Muslim New Year and burials. The master players, holding an important position in Manding society, teach children as young as seven.
The project includes the study and documentation of customary methods of conservation and transmission of oral expressions and traditional music relating to the Sosso-Bala. The project also calls for training the bearers of this musical tradition, equipping them with the skills to make audio-visual recordings. Furthermore, the project promotes the Sosso-Bala through publications, photography, films and CDs as well as performances, exhibitions and festivals.
A project steering committee composed of specialists and representatives of relevant ministries has been set up and has taken initiatives to safeguard this traditional music. Intensive workshops for local practitioners are ready to be implemented.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Woodcrafting Knowledge of the Zafimaniry12-2004/06-2008, Madagascar
- Woodcrafting knowledge of the Zafimaniry
The Zafimaniry community of about 25,000 people practices a unique wood crafting culture. Most wooden surfaces in their villages – from utensils to houses – are delicately crafted, displaying elaborate ornamentation. These motifs carry rich symbolic significance related to Zafimaniry cosmovision and values.
The project will help to raise awareness within the Zafimaniry community about the value of their traditions and improve living standards among them through the creation of income-generating activities. It also intends to foster the continued practice of woodcrafting through certain measures, including the preservation of the community’s natural environment.
Research and documentation of the Zafimaniry’s woodcrafting knowledge will be conducted. Structures at the national, regional and local levels will be created in order to assure the safeguarding of the knowledge in the long term. Workshops focusing on teaching and transmitting traditional techniques will be organized. A reforestation programme will also be implemented.