25.11.2011 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Two new African elements on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage added a rite of wisdom from Mali and an epic from Mauritania.

The decision was made during a Committee meeting in Bali, Indonesia, from 22 to 29 November 2011. The two elements are among several new items on the list.

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

For the Bambara, Malinké, Senufo and Samogo peoples of Mali, the secret society of the Kôrêdugaw is a rite of wisdom performed at festivals and many other occasions. Initiates 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. The Kôrêdugaw symbolize generosity, tolerance, inoffensiveness and mastery of knowledge, embodying the rules of conduct that they advocate for others.

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The Moorish Epic T'heydinn, Mauritania:

The T'heydinn epic encompasses dozens of poems in the Hassaniya language lauding the glorious feats of Moorish emirs and sultans and preserving the collective memory of society.

Sung by griots and accompanied by traditional stringed instruments such as the lute, harp and kettledrum, the poems are passed down from father to son, with young griots first learning the instrumental skills before being initiated into the poetic tradition.

Performances are occasions for regional tribal and family reunions, strengthening social ties and promoting social peace and mutual assistance.

See photos

The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by UNESCO's General Conference in 2003 and now includes 139 States Parties.

Only those countries that have ratified the Convention are eligible to present items for inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage has 24 representatives of UNESCO Member States, elected for a term of four years. Half the Committee is renewed every two years.

Follow the entire session of the Committee online

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