Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.A.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Mozambique has nominated Ingoma Ya Mapiko (No. 01996) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

The mapiko dance is a celebratory dance practiced by the Makonde people of Mozambique. A part of the traditional rite of passage from puberty to adulthood, the dance is performed in an enclosure, usually under mango trees, with dancers, musicians and the public coming together to celebrate the initiation rite. The dance may also be performed for the funeral of a group member or for entertainment. It is a theatrical performance involving several dancers who perform alone or as a group, wearing masks that represent animals or people. They are accompanied by drums and a choir of women and men standing opposite each other. In between the dances, the choir also dances and sings provocative songs, challenging and provoking the masked men and people from neighbouring villages. The mapiko dance is transmitted during initiation rites. It symbolizes human spirit, harmony with the cosmos, and the fight between good and evil, and is viewed as a means of overcoming fear. It also seeks to restore a balance between the masculine and the feminine. For the practising communities, mapiko is a means of transmitting ancestral values, beliefs and customs and of helping youth familiarize themselves with the transformations of their bodies as they reach maturity.

  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: Mapiko is a part of the Makonde initiation rite Likumbi, part of the process of stepping from childhood to adulthood. Lipiko masks are worn during the performance, which is accompanied by music and dance. Mapiko involves a progressive teaching process to familiarize youth with their bodies, traditions, and way of life. The element is passed on during secret initiation rites. It transmits ancestral values and beliefs and teaches youth how to differentiate between good and evil. Mapiko is also an artistic expression and a form of entertainment and education.

U.2: The file explains that there are social, economic, military, environmental and cultural threats to the element. Younger people are less likely to participate in the dances due to the absence of economic benefits. The main threats to the element are armed conflict and terrorism, the protected status of reserves where resources are found for the production of the instruments and masks, and a weakened transmission and participation of younger generations due to labour migration. The abandonment of other cultural practices such as tattoos and sculpting has also reduced the cultural identity of the Makonde people.

U.3: Past and current safeguarding measures by the communities concerned include gaining political support and recognition for Mapiko and coordinating Mapiko festivals and mask-making workshops. State support includes a governance programme, legislative measures, funding and research. The proposed safeguarding plan focuses on preventing the extinction of Mapiko. Key activities include ensuring the availability of the necessary raw materials, establishing an inventory and a documentation centre, providing an adequate legal framework, conducting capacity-building and awareness-raising activities, and artistic productions. In terms of community participation, priority will be given to the participation of members of civil society and practitioners as the guardians of their culture. The nomination form lists various practitioners who will play a decisive role in the implementation of certain safeguarding activities.

U.5: The element has been documented and was included in an inventory in 2019 in accordance with the law 10/88 of National Heritage. The element was identified and defined via interviews with a cross-section of the communities concerned, including women. Mozambique has adapted the inventory calendar to cyclones, floods and droughts. Alongside this, the State, in partnership with institutions and practicing communities, implements monitoring and evaluation procedures throughout the year.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criterion for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.4:   The file describes a process involving interactions between practitioners, associations, local leaders and government agencies beginning in 2019. The process was led by the Cultural Research Center with the goal of mapping and determining how to develop the nomination, including how to deal with aspects of the element subject to secrecy. Annexed letters express the free, prior and informed consent of concerned communities.

  1. Decides to inscribe Ingoma Ya Mapiko on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
  2. Encourages the State Party to make use of the International Assistance mechanism of the Convention to receive financial support for activities aimed at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage as defined in Article 20 of the Convention.
  3. Reminds the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized letters of consent and to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of the communities concerned.