03/09/2012 - 07/09/2012

Following training on strengthening national capacities for implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe have recently further benefited from a policy and legal framework review meeting convened in Harare from 3 to 7 September 2012.

These four countries are already motivated to safeguard their intangible heritage with the support of UNESCO/Flanders Fund-in-Trust. Participants from the four countries acknowledged that awareness of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage has been widely raised in recent years and cultural heritage does no longer end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself, but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation.

The need to speed up the process of developing policies and legislations was identified within the framework of UNESCO/Flanders FIT project for the Convention to be effectively implemented and domesticated. Some of them do not yet have relevant legislation such as national cultural policies and various Acts of parliament to anchor the implementation of the convention in their respective countries. For those that do have them, the policies are in need of revision to accommodate provisions more related to ICH safeguarding. Thus, consultants have been contracted by UNESCO Harare Office to conduct policy review in each of the four countries with the purpose to facilitate this workshop and the future policy revision process in the long run. Papers presented by Mr Marc Jacobs from Belgium, Mr Lovemore Mazibuko from Malawi and Dr Francis Matambirofa from Zimbabwe during the workshop examined various ways to do with the convention, among topics that included Intellectual Property Rights Protection, Policies and Development of National actions plans.

Currently, challenges remain are mainly funding and coordination to take the capacity building activities to the communities at local levels. The participants hoped that various ministries such as the ministry of sport, arts education and culture will continue with their efforts for fund-raising and other support for this worthwhile cause of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage.