Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.C.2

The Committee,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives,
  2. Having examined document ITH/15/10.COM 10.c as well as the international assistance request 00888,
  3. Takes note that Kenya has requested International Assistance for Safeguarding of Enkipaata, Eunoto and Olng’esherr, three male rites of passage of the Maasai community:

The three male rites of the Maasai community represent stages in the preparation of boys for adulthood – a process called moranism that involves the transmission of indigenous knowledge, including Maasai rituals, legends, traditions and life skills. Enkipaata is the name for the induction ceremony, Eunoto heralds the shaving of initiates before their seclusion in the bush for training, and Olng’esherr is the meat‑eating ceremony marking the end of moranism and the beginning of eldership. The rites involve the whole community and feature songs, folktales, proverbs, riddles and events, thus providing the Maasai community with a sense of cultural identity and continuity. However, traditional modes of transmission have greatly weakened since the beginning of the 1980s as a result of reduced frequency and participation, with an increasing number of boys remaining at home and occupied with formal education. To safeguard the practice, the project plans to hold workshops to promote community‑based inventorying of Maasai intangible cultural heritage, organize community meetings between elders and youth to empower them with knowledge and skills relevant for enactment and preservation of the tradition, mentor youth on its importance, undertake a mapping exercise to protect the associated natural spaces and places, and research and document the practice for future transmission.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance concerns the support for a project carried out at national level aimed at the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the granting of donation in line with Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Kenya requested an allocation of US$144,430 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of the project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file 00888, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance in paragraph 12 of the Operational Directives and the additional considerations in paragraph 10:

Criterion A.1: Apart from short-term educational meetings of elders and youth, the request fails to demonstrate an active participation of Maasai community in either preparation, implementation or evaluation and follow-up of the project; the central role is assigned to a governmental department and a national non-governmental organization dedicated to biodiversity conservation and advocacy of Maasai culture, without explaining the relationship of that organization with the community and whether and how it might act on its behalf;

Criterion A.2: The budget shows discrepancies between objectives, activities, timetable and parties involved in the project; in particular, it reveals a top-down and top-heavy organization of the project, gaps between planned activities and expected results, lack of information on actors granted to carry out specific tasks, and the separation of the Maasai into nine unconnected sections;

Criterion A.3: Oriented in principle to the safeguarding of three male rites of passage, the project oscillates between building capacities for safeguarding and those for inventorying without providing clarification of their link; in addition, the description of the three rites lacks detail, thus not allowing readers to comprehend the importance of spaces and places that are planned to be identified and then put under community protection; the timetable reveals that the three-year duration of the project pertains only to the stakeholders, while the community is split up along its nine sections, so that for each of them the project lasts for just a year; the project moreover does not facilitate communication among the various sections;

Criterion A.4: Given the lack of clarity and consistency between its main objectives, expected results, planned activities, timetable and involved partners, as well as the lack of evidence of active participation of the Maasai community in its design and conduct, the proposed project does not adequately demonstrate how it could contribute to the sustainability of the three male rites; in addition, community-based educational meetings between elders and youth can hardly ensure effective follow-up since they encompass only one meeting held in each of the nine sections either once a year (according to the budget) or once in total during the three-year project (according to the timetable); the overall impression is of a project with low potential in respect to sustainability;

Criterion A.5: The State Party is financially committed to subvene the participation of four officers in all meetings and workshops and in the identification of places and spaces, while the community’s contribution includes meetings intended to educate the youth on the importance of three male rites;

Criterion A.6: The request needs to provide greater explanation (rather than assertion) of how the project could help to build the capacity of the community in either inventorying its intangible cultural heritage or safeguarding the element; a four-day workshop into community-based inventorying is important yet insufficiently described and of limited reach, while the transfer of knowledge related to the element relies on the community’s own human, technical and financial resources and is restricted to each of its separate sections; the strengthening of the stakeholders’ capacities cannot be assessed for they either operate primarily in domains other than the intangible cultural heritage or are not clearly identified;

Criterion A.7: Kenya received International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund twice, once to safeguard ‘Traditions and practices associated to the Kayas in the Sacred Forests of the Mijikenda’ (2011-ongoing; US$126,580), and once to prepare a nomination file concerning ‘Rituals and practices associated with the Kit Mikayi shrine of the Luo community in Kenya’ (2013-2015; US$17,668); in addition, the country implemented three UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust projects: ‘Safeguarding traditional foodways of two communities in Kenya’ (2009-2013), ‘Photographic documentation of intangible heritage in Kenya’ (2010-2011), and ‘Safeguarding traditional Somali performing arts’ (2008-2009); the work stipulated by the contracts related to these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s regulations and all projects have been completed. An exception is the project concerning the Kayas, which has been significantly delayed; the Secretariat is in contact with the State Party in order to find an administrative solution to overcome the problem;

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

Consideration 10(b): The request does not address whether the project may have a multiplier effect or could stimulate financial and technical contributions from other sources; more information would be needed to explain possible multiplier effects emerging from the partnership between this project and another dedicated to the culture and reproductive health of the Maasai.

  1. Acknowledges the need to safeguard three male rites of passage of the Maasai community and appreciates the commitment of the State Party;
  2. Invites the submitting State to resubmit a request, at the earliest possible opportunity, revised in line with the recommendations of the Evaluation Body and the findings set out above;
  3. Delegates its authority to the Bureau to take any appropriate decision on such revised international assistance request received from Kenya for Safeguarding of Enkipaata, Eunoto and Olng’esherr, three male rites of passage of the Maasai community.