11.09.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Young People shape Kenya's Cultural Heritage by Digitizing Local Traditional Games

Sketch of the local traditional game "Hide and Seek" (c)UNESCO/J.Okande

UNESCO, in collaboration with National Museums of Kenya organized a 3-day Game Jam in Mombasa, Kenya, from 28 to 30 August 2018 to raise awareness of traditional knowledge and its digitization as manifested in traditional games in Kenya.

The three days event held at the Kenya Heritage Training Institute in Mombasa County aimed at building capacities of young people by equipping them with practical skills to digitalize local traditional games - Hide and Seek (Brikicho), Stick Fight, Dodge Ball and Kora traditional – into mobile applications. It also encouraged adoption of innovative ways for preserving and disseminating local traditional games for promotion of indigenous knowledge for learning and development in Kenya.

The event was opened by Hon. Munywoki Kyalo, County Executive Committee Member, Department of Youth, Gender, Sports and Cultural Affairs at the County Government of Mombasa who welcomed participants and indicated that he was excited UNESCO chose Mombasa County - home to Fort Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – as the official host for the event. Hon. Kyalo further thanked UNESCO and indicated that the County Government looks forward to collaborating with UNESCO on youth targeted initiatives in Mombasa County, Kenya.

During the event, participants were taken through presentations of selected traditional games, two developed android mobile applications for Skipping Rope and Bow and Arrow traditional games, and a Video animation of the Bao traditional Game. An interactive panel discussion on the Game Industry and entry points for traditional games was also held to contextualize traditional games within the game environment.

“This was a great learning experience to me. I was amazed to see some developers learn about Unity3D and digitalize a local traditional game in two days. This is Impressive and I thank UNESCO for targeting young people with this projects.” shared Ms Fatma Mkwariza, Executive Director, Swahili Pot Hub.

“This project has been an eye opener to the National Museums as it encourages involvement of young people in digitalization of our local games as a cultural heritage for posterity. The National Museum will encourage youth involvement in preservation of documentary heritage and most importantly teach them on the importance of preserving our culture through digitizing local traditional games in Kenya.” continued Dr Joseph Mutangah, Head of Cultural Heritage at the National Museums of Kenya.

At the event attended by coders/developers, artists and musicians, participants were taken through a practical training sessions on how to design mobile applications prototypes. The participants were divided into two groups and each allocated local traditional games to sketch before developing mobile prototypes. At the end of the training, the young people were able to develop two mobile prototypes for the Stick Fight and Dodge Ball local traditional games from Kenya.

Forty eight (48) young people comprising of 31 men and 17 women drawn from technology start-ups such as Swahili Pot Hub, Sote Hub, Swahili Box, Swahili Centre and universities such as Mount Kenya University, Kenyatta University and Pwani University in Mombasa County attended the training.

The Open Digital Library on Traditional Games (ODLTG) is a repository of freely available resources about traditional games. The creation of an openly accessible digital library as a repository of Traditional Games also falls within UNESCO’s mission of promoting innovative use of ICTs by young people for digital preservation, as well as for the development of crowd-sourced information for educational, scientific and cultural benefit in Kenya.

The training was organized within UNESCOs framework of the Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images to promote safeguarding and promotion of Traditional Games for enhancing intercultural dialogue and peace, reinforcing youth empowerment in Kenya.


<- Back to: News
Back to top