Safeguarding intangible heritage

©UNESCO, Participants to an ICH inventory in Cabo Verde

Heritage preservation has gained increasing attention within African countries. Nevertheless, the rich living heritage diversity has to be identified and inventoried, which requires the full involvement of the communities. Hence, several programs were launched as a first global step towards the preservation of the west African intangible cultural heritage.

UNESCO protects and promotes the intangible cultural heritage, which includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. For this purpose, the Organization rely on mechanisms established by the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Convention has been ratified by all the countries covered by the UNESCO Dakar Office thanks to efficient information and advocacy work carried out by the Dakar Office.

The Office pays close attention to the development of inventories. Therefore, and with the support of UNESCO experts, it organizes awareness raising, training or inventory development methodologies workshops, involving local communities, and through the granting of international assistance.

Thus, intangible cultural heritage elements of countries covered by the Dakar Office, such as the “Coming forth of the masks and puppets in Markala” in Mali; the “Practices and expressions of joking relationships” in Niger; the “Xooy, a divination ceremony among the Serer” or “traditional music” in Senegal have been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The UNESCO Dakar Office also supports the completion of needs assessments, to respond to the institutional capacity building needs and for the elaboration and implementation of safeguarding plans.

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