Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.A.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Uganda has nominated Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance (No. 01187) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

The Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance is a cultural practice of the Madi people of Uganda. Passed on by the community’s ancestors, the songs and dances involved in the tradition are performed for various purposes, including weddings, political rallies, to celebrate good harvests, educate children, resolve conflict or mourn the passing of loved ones. Several rituals also take place regarding the production and use of the lyre: preparing a special meal to bless the instrument while it is being made; placing pieces of broom and stone taken from a ‘quarrelsome woman’ inside it and praying to the ancestors so the instrument will resemble a similar sound; naming the instrument; and shaking it before and after playing to show respect for it. The traditional practice is a tool for strengthening family ties and clan unity, as well as educating younger generations about their community’s history, values and culture. Associated knowledge and skills on the practice are transmitted from senior bearers to young people. However, the tradition’s continuity is at risk due to it being perceived as old fashioned by new generations and materials that are used to make the instrument coming from plants and animals now being considered endangered.

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

U.1:   Transmitted from generation to generation, the Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance plays a prominent role in conveying cultural norms, communal values and collective memories to its communities and inculcating a spirit of hard work, mutual understanding and respect for elders among young people. The element also performs an important social function to promote harmonious coexistence by resolving conflicts and strengthening relationships within families and clans;

U.2:   The continuity of this element has been at risk due to changing sociocultural circumstances in the wake of political conflict and the migration of the Madi people since the late 1970s; the element’s viability is also threatened by changes to the natural environment, such as deforestation, which leads to the shortage of raw materials needed for manufacturing instruments associated with the element. In addition, intergenerational transmission of the element faces threats from an overall decrease of interest among younger generations to continue the practice and a diminishing number of practitioners which is today limited to a dozen;

U.3:   Building upon past and current efforts, the safeguarding plan proposed responds to the identified threats and incorporates various activities directed to raising awareness, building capacities and conserving raw material for continuation of the practice, accompanied by a coherent and realistic timetable and carefully elaborated budget. The practising community is actively involved in the design and implementation of the safeguarding plan with the participation of agents of community development, relevant non-governmental organizations and local governmental institutions;

U.4:   The nomination file and appended evidence of free, prior and informed consent demonstrate the active participation of a broader community, including practitioners, elders, youth, women and a wide spectrum of parties concerned with the element and its safeguarding such as non-governmental organization representatives and local governmental officials;

U.5:   Since 2014, with the participation of the Madi community and all relevant stakeholders, the element has been included in the inventory, which is maintained and updated every year by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

  1. Inscribes Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Congratulates Uganda for submitting a nomination to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding as a result of the preparatory assistance granted;
  3. Invites the submitting State to take particular heed in exploring alternative materials in response to the lack of raw material associated with enactment of the element and further consider the long-term feasibility of the safeguarding plan to ensure the sustainable viability of the element.