Decision of the Bureau: 18.COM 1.BUR 4.1

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Article 23 of the Convention as well as Chapter I.4 of the Operational Directives relating to the eligibility and criteria of International Assistance requests,
  2. Having examined document LHE/23/18.COM 1.BUR/4 Rev. as well as International Assistance request no. 02044 submitted by Botswana,
  3. Takes note that Botswana has requested International Assistance for the project entitled Sustaining Seperu folk dance and associated practices:

To be implemented by the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, this eighteen-month project aims to safeguard ‘Seperu folk dance and associated practices’, an element inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2019. The element involves singing, dancing and sacred rituals which are significant in the life of the communities in the Chobe District. The knowledge bearers and practitioners have continued to diminish in number, thus affecting the element’s visibility, continuity and transmission. The traditional methods of transmission are found to have been undermined due to modern lifestyles or livelihood requirements which, for example, distort and decontextualize the significance of certain practices, lead to a lack of adherence to taboos or deprive school children of the opportunity to learn about the element. The main objectives of the project are, among others, to support the transmission of the element to younger generations and to implement a series of activities that will contribute to the implementation of the safeguarding plan established at the time of the inscription of the element. The project seeks to support initiatives, led by practitioners, including capacity-building workshops and the establishment of intangible cultural heritage village committees and district associations.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance aims to support a project implemented at the national level, in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the provision of a grant, pursuant to Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Botswana has requested assistance in the amount of US$94,447 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of this project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 02044, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:

Criterion A.1: This request was submitted following wide consultations among communities from nine villages in the Chobe District where the Seperu folk dance and associated practices are performed. The project foresees the involvement of the communities concerned in the safeguarding activities, through the existing structures of traditional authorities, local cultural associations and the community of Seperu groups. Community members will participate in the capacity-building workshops, awareness-raising activities and fieldwork. The project emphasizes the central and active role of the communities throughout its implementation, from the planning to the monitoring and follow-up stages.

Criterion A.2: The budget is presented in a structured manner, corresponds to the planned activities and is consistent with the timeframe. The amount of assistance requested may therefore be considered as appropriate for the implementation of the proposed activities.

Criterion A.3: To contribute to the safeguarding of the element, the project proposes a set of eleven activities organized around six main components that will contribute to: a) ensuring the transmission of the practices related to the element to younger generations; b) strengthening the safeguarding capacities of the local communities; c) documenting and updating the inventory of the element; d) increasing the visibility of the element; and e) promoting an ethical production of the ‘mushishi’ dress by training designers. Many of the activities are geared to reflect on the economic aspects of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding in an effort to mitigate the negative impact of the decontextualization and commercialization of the practice in question. The proposed activities are presented in a logical manner and the timeframe seems to be realistic for achieving the expected results of the project.

Criterion A.4: The assistance will contribute to achieving lasting results in accordance with the programme objectives. Throughout the project, the activities will contribute to the implementation of the existing safeguarding plan by the communities and various stakeholders. The project will contribute to the establishment of Intangible Cultural Heritage Village Committees, the District Association of Sepuru and the Sepuru school clubs. The members of these organizations will be responsible for supporting the implementation of the 2003 Convention. Furthermore, the project will enable the master practitioners – Ingongis – to hand on their knowledge to younger generations, and this transmission will entail teaching students how to practice the Sepuru folk dance and songs. The participation of teachers could improve the knowledge and transmission of skills through the establishment of around ten school clubs in primary and secondary schools. Finally, young designers will be encouraged to continue the practice of ‘mushishi’ while understanding its cultural and social significance.

Criterion A.5: The submitting States Party will contribute 6 per cent (US$5,553) of the total amount of the project budget (US$100,000). Consequently, International Assistance is requested from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the remaining 94 per cent of the total amount of the project budget.

Criterion A.6: The project focuses on building the capacities of the communities to strengthen the viability of the element. In addition to renewing the training to the Chobe District Cultural Heritage Committee, the project will help decentralize the safeguarding responsibilities to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Village Committees in nine villages of Chobe District. Furthermore, the project will facilitate training sessions for coordinators of Seperu school clubs and support the efforts of the Ministry responsible for culture, which has already started training workshops for teachers and students. The capacity-building aspects of the project will also target selected dress makers, particularly young designers. In total, the project is expected to train 300 people on the safeguarding of the element.

Criterion A.7: Botswana has benefited from International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the project entitled ‘Promotion of earthen ware pottery-making skills in Kgatleng district’ (file no. 01153, February 2017 – June 2018, US$68,261). The work stipulated by the contract related to this assistance was carried out in accordance with UNESCO regulations.

Paragraph 10(a): The project is local in scope and its implementation involves national partners, including the Ministry of Culture, local non-governmental organizations and local authorities.

Paragraph 10(b): The project is expected to increase the visibility, viability and practice of the element and to incite other communities to safeguard their own intangible cultural heritage.

  1. Approves the International Assistance request from Botswana for the project entitled Sustaining Seperu folk dance and associated practices and grants the amount of US$94,447 to the State Party for this purpose;
  2. Commends the requesting State for the safeguarding approach selected, which takes into account the economic aspect of the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in relation to people’s livelihoods and aims to mitigate the negative impact of the decontextualization and commercialization of the element concerned;
  3. Requests that the Secretariat reach an agreement with the requesting State Party on the technical details of the assistance, paying particular attention to ensuring that the budget and work plan of the activities to be covered by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund are detailed and specific enough to provide sufficient justification of the expenditures;
  4. Invites the State Party to use Form ICH-04-Report to report on the use of the assistance granted.