Manden Charter, proclaimed in Kurukan Fuga
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Manden Charter, proclaimed in Kurukan Fuga
In the early thirteenth century, following a major military victory, the founder of the Mandingo Empire and the assembly of his wise men proclaimed in Kurukan Fuga the new Manden Charter, named after the territory situated above the upper Niger River basin, between present-day Guinea and Mali. The Charter, one of the oldest constitutions in the world albeit mainly in oral form, contains a preamble of seven chapters advocating social peace in diversity, the inviolability of the human being, education, the integrity of the motherland, food security, the abolition of slavery by razzia (or raid), and freedom of expression and trade. Although the Empire disappeared, the words of the Charter and the rituals associated with it are still transmitted orally from father to son in a codified way within the Malinke clans. To keep the tradition alive, commemorative annual ceremonies of the historic assembly are organized in the village of Kangaba (adjacent to the vast clearing of Kurukan Fuga, which now lies in Mali, (close to the Guinean border). The ceremonies are backed by the local and national authorities of Mali and, in particular, the traditional authorities, who see it as a source of law and as promoting a message of love, peace and fraternity, which has survived through the ages. The Manden Charter continues to underlie the basis of the values and identity of the populations concerned.
Decision 4.COM 13.59
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The Manden Charter, recognized by its community members as an essential part of their heritage, is customary law on the basis of which they regulate their social life while respecting nature and the changing environment; it is passed on orally from generation to generation and provides a sense of belonging, identity and continuity to its community;
- R.2: Inscription of the Manden Charter on the Representative List would promote intercultural dialogue by giving wider visibility to its values of traditional governance and conflict resolution;
- R.3: Legal mechanisms and safeguarding measures focusing especially on documentation and awareness raising are elaborated in the nomination, which also demonstrates the commitments of both State and communities to implement such measures;
- R.4: The participation of traditional authorities and local officials in the nomination is reflected in the safeguarding measures elaborated, and the file includes evidence of their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: Kurukan Fuga, the cultural space where the Manden Charter was proclaimed, is inscribed on the National Cultural Heritage Inventory.