http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/USL/00520

Secret society of the Kôrêdugaw, the rite of wisdom in Mali

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

Country(ies): Mali

Identification

Description

Secret society of the Kôrêdugaw, the rite of wisdom in Mali

The secret society of the Kôrêdugaw is a rite of wisdom central to the cultural identity of the Bambara, Malinké, Senufo and Samogo peoples of Mali. Initiates dress in ragged coats adorned with red bean necklaces and a large quantity of miscellaneous items. They provoke laughter with behaviour characterized by gluttony, caustic humour and wit, but also possess great intelligence and wisdom. The society educates, trains and prepares children to cope with life and to deal with social problems. Its members also act as social mediators and play key roles in festivals and many other occasions. The Kôrêdugaw are also herbalists and traditional therapists whose knowledge of plants is used to cure illnesses, ward off bad luck, treat childless women and impart blessings. They symbolize generosity, tolerance, inoffensiveness and mastery of knowledge, embodying the rules of conduct that they advocate for others. Members come from all social and professional groups, irrespective of ethnicity, gender or religion, and one becomes a Kôrêduga by inherited status, instruction by spirits or training with a master. Knowledge and know-how are transmitted during annual initiation ceremonies. Today, traditional modes of transmission are threatened by the decreasing number of initiates due to the predominance of urban lifestyles among younger generations, and ritual practices take place less and less regularly.

Documents

Decision 6.COM 8.12

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

  • U1: The Kôrêdugaw play an important role as cultural mediators of social conflict, thus acting as instruments of socialization that contribute to the harmony and continuity of society, and to the maintenance of dialogue and amicable relations;
  • U2: The viability of the Kôrêdugaw tradition is threatened by social transformations touching all aspects of life in Mali, particularly the reduction in the number of practitioners and the loss of its ritual function in favour of entertainment and profit, contrary to its philosophy;
  • U3: The safeguarding measures proposed by the State Party, which include legislative measures, awareness raising and documentation, will widely enhance the visibility of the element, including the revitalization and practice of its ritual and social functions;
  • U4: The submitting State has involved the community through extensive consultations during the elaboration of the nomination, and the nomination includes the free, prior and informed consent of the Kôrêdugaw practitioner associations;
  • U5: Kôrêdugaw was included in 2010 on the inventory of national cultural heritage, administered by the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage in the Ministry of Culture.

Inscribes Secret society of Kôrêdugaw, the rite of wisdom in Mali on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
Encourages the State Party to reinforce the safeguarding measures by emphasizing the ritual and social functions of the secret society of Kôrêdugaw;
Invites the State Party to further strengthen a detailed plan focusing on a wider spectrum of aspects of the element that would guarantee its ultimate revitalization and viability;
Further invites the State Party to submit a report on the implementation of the safeguarding plan for examination by the Committee at its eighth session, in conformity with Paragraph 161 of the Operational Directives.

Slideshow

Video


© DBPC, 2010

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