10.COM 10.A.8

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Uganda has nominated Koogere oral tradition of the Basongora, Banyabindi and Batooro peoples (No. 00911) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Koogere was a female chief of Busongora about 1,500 years ago. Oral tradition describes her exceptional wisdom and the prosperity of the chiefdom through a series of narratives, which form part of the collective memory of Basongora, Banyabindi and Batooro communities in Kasese. This oral tradition is an essential and inspirational part of social philosophy and folk expression. It encompasses sayings and narrations focusing on images of plenty and abundance as blessings for hard work, highlighting the importance of wisdom and evoking female magic and heroism. Practitioners and custodians of the narratives are traditionally elders, sages, storytellers, poets, musicians, artists and indigenous families living near sites associated with the story. The story is retold and sung informally around the fireplace and during collective activities such as handicrafts, cattle herding and long-distance travel, with skilled older storytellers transmitting the tradition to younger participants. Koogere storytelling thus facilitates shared actions, recreation, wisdom, learning and intergenerational transfer of information, values and skills. However, today there is increasing dominance of formal training and education, while the transmission of knowledge and skills associated with enactment of Koogere oral tradition is informal and spontaneous and thus not adapted to these new methods. Moreover, the use of the language of Koogere story – Runyakitara (Runyoro-Rutooro) is declining. Knowledge of the oral tradition is therefore decreasing rapidly with only four surviving master storytellers able to relate more than one episode of the Koogere story. The frequency of these practices is also diminishing, as other entertainment dominates the social spaces associated with enactment and transmission.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

U.1:   Pertaining to a body of narrations about the wisdom, prosperity, magical power and heroism of a great woman ruler of the ancient empire, the Koogere oral tradition conveys value, belief systems and collective memory; it is mostly enacted and transmitted spontaneously in the context of now-disappearing family evening recreation, during communal grazing, weaving and handcrafting or while traveling in a company;

U.2:   Apart from groups that incorporate Koogere-related lyrics in their musical performances, only four aged masters possess broad knowledge of the element and skills required for its enactment; the practice is seriously endangered due to the disappearance of the social contexts where it generally takes place, an increasing separation of education and recreation (contrary to their amalgam embodied in the element), a declining use of indigenous languages and a general loss of understanding and affection for the story;

U.3:   The safeguarding plan demonstrates a thought-out procedure of its elaboration, including active involvement of communities, groups, individuals, relevant non-governmental organizations and other parties concerned, resulting in a feasible and sufficient safeguarding plan; the main objective is to integrate the element into contemporary society, including the introduction of new modes of transmission and professionalization of practitioners in order to reach audiences through stage performances; the budget is carefully elaborated and can serve as a model;

U.4:   The nomination process involved sensitization of communities concerned about the principles underlying the Convention, their participation in the identification and definition of the element, cooperation with researchers in data gathering, contribution to discussions of threats to the element and elaboration of appropriate safeguarding measures; a wide spectrum of parties concerned with the element and its safeguarding provided their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;

U.5:   Since 2012, the element has been included in the National Inventory, which is drawn up in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention, and maintained by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

  1. Inscribes Koogere oral tradition of the Basongora, Banyabindi and Batooro peoples on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Recommends the State Party, while implementing the safeguarding plan, to take special care of the sustainability of the social functions and cultural meanings of the element for its communities.

Top