Decision of the Bureau: 12.COM 2.BUR 4.6

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/17/12.COM 2.BUR/4, as well as International Assistance request no. 00977,
  3. Takes note that Nigeria has requested International Assistance for a project entitled Safeguarding the intangible traditions of Kwagh-Hir (Tiv puppetry theatre) in Nigeria through comprehensive documentation:

Kwagh-Hir is a form of puppetry theatre traditionally performed in Tiv communities in the state of Benue, in the mid-belt region of Nigeria. It provides secular entertainment, education and socialization through the enactment of past and contemporary events by performers using puppets and masquerades. At present, however, only older speakers have knowledge of the main historical narratives and legends. The aim of the project, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, is therefore to safeguard and reinvigorate Kwagh-Hir, and in so doing help to reinforce the cultural identity of Tiv people and revive the intergenerational transmission of their folk arts, including Tiv craftsmanship, moral teachings, beliefs, customs and behaviours. To this end, the project would organize meetings with clan heads of the various community theatre groups, in order to generate new opportunities for Kwagh-Hir performances. This would necessitate the organization of rehearsals for the orchestra and performers, and the production of props, costumes and other cultural artefacts. The project would also produce audiovisual materials to document historical and anthropological narrations related to Kwagh-Hir and organize an awareness-raising workshop, which will bring together young Tiv generations and their elders around discussions about the importance of safeguarding and transmitting Kwagh-Hir.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance concerns support for a project carried out at the local level aimed at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the granting of a donation in line with Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Nigeria requested an allocation of US$95,000 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of the project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 00977, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance set out in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
Criterion A.1: The participation of all the Kwagh-Hir practitioners – men and women artisans, cultural historians, poets, arrangers, scriptwriters and choreographers – is described in very general terms without a clear description of their respective roles in the implementation, follow-up and evaluation of the project;  their actual involvement seems to be more declarative and top-down with professionals hired to supervise them; the request does not provide any information about the participation of communities in the preparation of the request; on the contrary, their participation is to be addressed during the first project activity, whereas the request should already provide sufficient evidence of a prior consultation process during which the mechanisms for fully engaging communities in all stages of the project should have been discussed;

Criterion A.2: Although the presentation of the budget is generally clear, the appropriateness of the amount requested cannot readily be determined in the absence of a detailed description of the planned activities. Moreover, the number of discrepancies in the budget in relation to the activities and their timetable, the absence of budget allocations for some major components such as the production of Kwagh-Hir performances, the disproportionality of certain costs such as recurrent costs for hospitality and stationery and the lack of detail in the calculations of a number of lump sums make it impossible to conclude that the requested amount is appropriate;

Criterion A.3: In the absence of a clear definition and articulation of the project’s objectives and of the proposed activities, the feasibility of the project cannot be justified; the activities are not well articulated or sufficiently detailed to demonstrate their ability to achieve the ambitious expected results; the feasibility of the proposed activities is also challenged by the lack of information on the modalities and mechanisms of implementation and on the respective responsibilities of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and its partners; and the low level of community involvement in the design of the proposed activities as well as their rather passive role in the implementation of the project make it difficult to determine how the activities may effectively contribute to creating an environment that enables Tiv communities to continue to practise and transmit Kwagh-Hir;

Criterion A.4: The project’s potential with respect to sustainability seems to rely on the accessibility of the documented information mainly for research and educational purposes; although the project implies that digital documentation could lead to the inclusion of the Kwagh-Hir practice in the educational curriculum and increase its accessibility to a wider public, there is no precise explanation of the future use of the proposed documentation and how it will actually contribute to the desired revitalization of the practice;

Criterion A.5: The State will share 43 per cent of the overall budget of the project for which the International Assistance is requested;

Criterion A.6: The request does not sufficiently demonstrate how the capacities of the various actors involved in the performance of Kwagh-Hir to continue their practice will be strengthened by the end of the project; though welcome, access to documentation on Kwagh-Hir and its history or to the materials needed for theatrical productions is not sufficient to demonstrate capacity-building in terms of the viability of the practices and its related traditions;

Criterion A.7: Although Nigeria has not previously benefitted from International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, since 2014 it has benefitted from financial assistance under the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage for a project entitled ‘Support to the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention in Nigeria’; the work stipulated by the contracts established with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture related to this project was carried out in compliance with UNESCO regulations;

Paragraph 10(a): The project is local in scope and involves national local implementing partners;

Paragraph 10(b): Although the Benue State Art Council is said to be ready to sponsor Kwagh-Hir within its annual budget appropriation, possible future assistance is referred to in a vague manner; the request also indicates the possibility of attracting funding from private investors for commercial profitability, which may give rise to the risk of the over-commercialization of Kwagh-Hir as well as concerns about distorting its meaning and purpose for its practitioners;

  1. Decides not to approve the International Assistance request from Nigeria for Safeguarding the intangible traditions of Kwagh-Hir (Tiv puppetry theatre) in Nigeria through comprehensive documentation;
  2. Recalls that the purpose of the assistance provided to State Parties from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund is to support them in their efforts to safeguard intangible cultural heritage as defined in Articles 3 and 2 of the Convention respectively, and that, therefore, the continued practice and transmission of that heritage cannot be overshadowed by other objectives, as legitimate as these may be;
  3. Recognizes that the safeguarding measures proposed should aim to ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage concerned and, while noting the absence of greater involvement on the part of communities and practitioners in the preparation, implementation and follow-up of the request, further recalls that these safeguarding measures should fully reflect the aspirations and wishes of communities and practitioners as active participants and emphasize the reinforcement of the capacities of communities concerned with a view to continuing their safeguarding efforts in the future;
  4. Echoes Decision 7.COM 10.6 to recall that International Assistance requests need to demonstrate a rigorous and clear correspondence between the overall objectives and the proposed activities, budget and timetable of the project and provide clear and transparent details through the presentation of an accurate and coherent budget.