Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.A.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Djibouti has nominated Xeedho (No. 02001) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Xeedho is a dish given by a mother-in-law to her son-in-law to celebrate the first week of her daughter’s marriage. It consists of a container carved from a tree trunk, made to hold small pieces of dried dromedary meat that is fried in butter and preserved in ghee. The container is placed inside a basket, wrapped in aluminium foil and decorated with leather and shells. The arrangement is then covered with fabric and placed inside a bag made from traditional fabrics representing a woman’s set of clothes. Ropes are securely tied around the xeedho and carefully hidden. An integral part of the wedding ceremony in Djibouti and the subject of riddles and poetry, the ritual of making xeedho is transmitted informally within families, with girls watching to see how it is prepared. The bride’s mother, grandmothers, sisters and aunts invest fully in planning the marriage celebrations and preparing the xeedho, which represents a commitment on the honour of the bride and her family. The xeedho is also accompanied by other gifts for the newlyweds. A carefully prepared, high-quality xeedho reflects a mother-in-law’s appreciation for her new son-in-law, thus strengthening social ties between the families of the bride and groom.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.1:   The element includes the skills associated with the preparation of Xeedho, which is offered as a gift by a mother-in-law to her son-in-law on the seventh day of her daughter’s marriage. It is practiced among the Somali community in Djibouti and is reserved for women with experience in the tradition. Associated knowledge and skills are transmitted informally, from women to their daughters and nieces. The element is part of the marriage ceremony of newlyweds and serves to strengthen social ties between two families and solidarity with the couple. The element is consistent with promoting mutual respect.

U.2:   The bearer communities have kept the practice alive despite drought and other economic crises that impact the tradition. The primary threats to the viability of the element include a decline in the number of practitioners and declining interest among younger generations to take up the practice of the element. According to the file, transmission is being further weakened as younger generations prefer to gift cultural artefacts associated with new urban contexts. Newlyweds also favour urban dishes. A formal framework for the transmission of the element is also lacking. As a result, adolescents and children are deprived of opportunities to learn about the practices related to xeedho.

U.3:   The past and ongoing safeguarding work on the element is supported by the International Assistance from the Fund of the Convention for inventorying and developing safeguarding plans. Other initiatives included awareness-raising and actively seeking out practitioners of the element. The proposed safeguarding plan details eight objectives, with the overarching goal of revitalizing the practice. The measures include establishing a federation, training women, designing safeguarding modules, establishing formal transmission modes, and conducting research and documentation activities. The plan includes the targeted results, a detailed timeline of activities and proposed budgets. It also includes a proposal for assessment and auditing of the safeguarding plan. It was drawn up in full cooperation with the bearers and practitioners of xeedho, and will be implemented with their participation.

U.4:   The nominated file includes evidence of the participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned in the nomination process throughout the entire process. Following the pilot inventory drawn up in early July 2020, the community chose the element from among the elements to be inventoried. Furthermore, meetings with the practitioners and local managers were held during the inventory process. There was an agreement among the participants about the need to inscribe xeedho on the Urgent Safeguarding List. Video conferences and meetings were held to inform the communities about how the file was progressing. In February and March 2022, awareness and information meetings with the active involvement of practitioners took place. During these meetings, letters attesting to the free, prior, and informed consent to the nomination were collected, all of them coming from women.

U.5:   Xeedho is included in an ongoing pilot inventory process. The information on the element was included in July 2020 and last updated in March 2022. The Department of Culture is the responsible body for the inventory. The identification and definition of the element took place in collaboration with five female practitioners. Updates will take place every two years, with the participation of the bearers and practitioners.

  1. Decides to inscribe Xeedho on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
  2. Commends the State Party for the submission of an improved file following the decision of the Committee to refer the file in 2021.