Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.16

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Ethiopia has nominated Fichee-Chambalaalla, New Year festival of the Sidama people (No. 01054) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Fichee-Chambalaalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people. According to the oral tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing buurisame, a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbours. Fichee has since become a unifying symbol of the Sidama people. Each year, astrologers determine the correct date for the festival, which is then announced to the clans. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. Every member participates irrespective of age, gender and social status. On the first day, children go from house to house to greet their neighbours, who serve them buurisame. During the festival, clan leaders advise the Sidama people to work hard, respect and support the elders, and abstain from cutting down indigenous trees, begging, indolence, false testimony and theft. The festival therefore enhances equity, good governance, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and integration among Sidama clans and the diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Parents transmit the tradition to their children orally and through participation in events during the celebration. Women in particular, transfer knowledge and skills associated with hairdressing and preparation of buurisame to their daughters and other girls in their respective villages.

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

R.1:   Comprising a sequence of events that mark New Year among the Sidama people, Fichee is celebrated by the whole community, including women, youth and children, while its knowledge and practices are transmitted non-formally through observation and participation; it enhances social cohesion, equity, equality, good governance and peace, and thus fulfils important social functions and helps sustainable development;

R.2:   Inscription of the element could increase awareness concerning the capacity of intangible cultural heritage to contribute to a culture of peace and reconciliation through symbolic acts and festive spirit; it could also contribute to the visibility of other elements in the region and encourage their safeguarding, in particular given that the enactment of Fichee-Chambalaalla incorporates various domains of intangible cultural heritage;

R.3:   Although the proposed safeguarding measures rely strongly on past and current efforts, they encompass a set of concrete and extensive activities aiming at ensuring the viability of the element in contemporary society, with priority given to making progress in legislation while stressing awareness-raising and training activities involving clan institutions, competent adults (Chimesaa), concerned community members and relevant groups as well as knowledge transfer towards the communities and the public; they were elaborated involving a wide range of actors, including bearers and practitioners of the element;

R.4:   The participation of the community concerned in the nomination process is sufficiently documented; free, prior and informed consent is provided in the form of a petition signed by numerous individuals belonging to different age, gender and social groups of Sidama people;

R.5:   The inclusion in 2013 of the element in the National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ethiopia was conducted by the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Fichee-Chambalaalla, New Year festival of the Sidama people on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to pay particular attention to ensuring that safeguarding measures respond adequately to the social dynamics on the ground and the increased visibility and public attention that will follow the inscription on the Representative List.