Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.a.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Botswana has nominated the use of Moropa wa Bojale ba Bakgatla ba Kgafela and its associated practices (No. 01183) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Bojale is an initiation ceremony for girls of Bakgatla ba Kgafela communities in Botswana, which is also practised in South Africa. Central to the ritual is Moropa wa Bojale ba Bakgatla ba Kgafela and its associated practices. Moropa wa Bojale is a drum played specifically for Bojale when girls learn about their culture and adulthood through song and dance. Topics cover cooking, pottery, farming, childcare and more recently marriage and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Bearers of the practice include the queen of the community’s royal family who is the tradition’s custodian, other female royals, Rakgadi (the paramount chief’s sister) and the Council of Elderly Women. The drum is considered sacred and can only be played in the queen’s presence. It symbolizes a woman’s duty in the home and when played is believed to have healing powers offering the girls protection. A month after the girls are initiated, they perform the same ritual at a public graduation ceremony and are welcomed into the community receiving a group name that identifies them. While the tradition has helped to promote solidarity amongst women and girls in communities, contributed to their cultural identity and imparted valuable life skills, a modern education system and migration have severely weakened its continuity.

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

U.4:   The submitting State has provided satisfactory evidence of community involvement in the nomination process;

U.5:   The practice was included in 2010 in the district inventory, with the participation of communities concerned. The inventory database is managed by a local museum and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. The file indicates that the museum is currently engaged in updating the inventory.

  1. Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria are satisfied:

U.1:   While the file describes the female initiation rite practised among the Bakgatla ba Kgafela community as a clear element of intangible cultural heritage, and while the file indicates that the practice is central to the identity of the community concerned, additional information is needed in relation to (i) the precise role of the bearers of the element; (ii) the exact contour of the element, in particular to specify whether Moropa is the nominated element or rather part of a larger element, the Bojale. In addition, information is needed as to the implications of the practice related to human rights (especially for young women and girls concerned) and related to sustainable development;

U.2:   Evidence of specific threats endangering sustainability of the element (as opposed to general threats, such as urbanization, aging practitioners and religious influence) is considered insufficient. Therefore, the urgent need for inscription has not been adequately demonstrated. The film accompanying the file in fact suggests that the element is currently not under threat;

U.3:   Lack of precision in relation to Criterion U.2 is reflected in the vagueness of the proposed safeguarding measures. The involvement of the communities in the proposed measures is also not sufficiently explicit.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of the use of Moropa wa Bojale ba Bakgatla ba Kgafela and its associated practices to the submitting State and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Further invites the submitting State to take into consideration the implications of inscription regarding restrictions imposed for accessing the element.