Bassari Country added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List
The Bassari Country: Bassari and Bedik Cultural Landscapes, situated in the south east of Senegal, has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List during the recent session of the World Heritage Committee.
“This is great news. In July 2011, the Delta du Saloum in the western corner of Senegal was added to the List, and now the Bassari country, it’s a big achievement,” says Yao Ydo of UNESCO Dakar.
The Bassari Country and the Delta du Saloum are the two regions in Senegal which are part of the MDG-F project on the Promotion of Cultural Industries and Initiatives in Senegal. UNESCO is coordinating the project, which started in 2009 and runs until September 2012.
The Bassari Country includes three geographic areas: the Bassari – Salémata area, the Bedik – Bandafassi area and the Fula – Dindéfello area, each with its specific morphological traits.
Rich cultural diversity
The Bassaris, Fulas and Bediks peoples settled from the 11th to the 19th centuries and developed specific cultures and habitats symbiotic with their surrounding natural environment.
The Bassari landscape is marked by terraces and rice paddies, interspersed with villages, hamlets and archaeological sites. The villages of the Bediks are formed by dense groups of huts with steeped thatched roofs.
Their inhabitants’ cultural expressions are characterized by original traits of agro-pastoral, social, ritual and spiritual practices, which represent an original response to environmental constraints and human pressures.
The site is a well preserved multicultural landscape housing original and still vibrant local cultures.
Two communities centres under construction
Two community centres are being constructed in the Bassari Country and the Delta du Saloum region as part of the MDG-F project on cultural industries in Senegal. The centres will include spaces for the youth, for women, for children, for craftsmen and for performing arts.
The Grand Ballet Bassari is another achievements of the Project. The Ballet includes dancers and musicians from most of the ethnic groups living in the Bassari Country.
The MDG-F project comprises several UN partners (UNDP, UNFPA, UNIDO and UNWTO) as well as national partners led by the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Senegal.
It is funded by the Spanish government.