There are two main national bodies charged with the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Côte d’lvoire: the Direction du patrimoine culturel (DPC, Directorate of Cultural Heritage, est. 1978) and the Office ivoirien du patrimoine culturel (OIPC, Ivorian Office of Cultural Heritage, est. 2012), both within the Ministry of Culture. The DPC is a ‘central directorate’, responsible for: identifying and inventorying national cultural heritage; safeguarding and promoting national cultural heritage; and providing information on national cultural heritage. It is currently preparing an indicative list of intangible cultural heritage elements that could be nominated for the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The OIPC is a ‘general directorate’, charged with: preparing nomination files for the Representative List/the Urgent Safeguarding List, the World Heritage List and the National Heritage List; coordinating the conservation, safeguarding, enhancement and promotion of elements inscribed on the national and international lists; and taking adequate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures to safeguard them. The legislation in place is Cultural Heritage Protection Law No. 87-806 of 1987 which is currently under revision in order to introduce new concepts, including intangible cultural heritage. A draft bylaw has also been established for the Living Human Treasures programme and for the establishment of a National Commission to administer it and an associated database to promote practitioners and bearers of intangible cultural heritage.
The DPC and OIPC are responsible for training in intangible cultural heritage management. Several training sessions (e.g. developing inventory forms and AV documentation) have been held by the Musée royale de l’Afrique central (MRAC, Royal Museum of Central Africa, Belgium). A training seminar in national inventory policy was held in 2006 and a preparatory workshop for an international colloquium on the general inventory and economic enhancement of cultural heritage was held in 2008. Professional training internships have been provided by the DPC, with an Ivorian conservator undertaking professional training periods in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 at the MRAC. In 2012, a training workshop was organized by the DPC in order to strengthen the capacities of their staff to undertake various projects of inventorying intangible cultural heritage. In addition, the École de formation à I’action culturelle (EFAC, Training School for Cultural Action) of the lnstitut national supérieur des arts et de I’action culturelle (INSAAC, National Higher Institute of Arts and Cultural Action) trains professionals in cultural resource management, museology, archival sciences and documentation.
The bodies responsible for intangible cultural heritage documentation are the DPC and the Regional Directorates for Culture and Francophonie (initially 13, now more than 31). intangible cultural heritage documentation is also held in: the Ivorian National Library; the Centre national de recherche sur Ia tradition orale (CNRTO, National Research Centre on Oral Tradition), which holds transcriptions, recordings, photographs and documentary film of oral expressions and traditional music; the lnstitut d’ethnosociologie (IES, Institute of Ethnosociology); the Université Felix Houphouet; and the Centre de recherche sur les arts et Ia culture (CRAC, Research Centre on Arts and Cutlure) of INSAAC, which conducts research on various intangible cultural heritage elements (traditional music, dance, drama, plastic arts).
Cultural Heritage Protection Law No. 87-806 of 1987 provides for a national inventory of cultural heritage to be established and updated annually. This includes popular arts and traditions, craftsmanship, traditional musical arts, traditional games and sports and oral expressions as one of three main categories. However, although work on the popular arts and traditions list was begun in 1982, it has not been completed. From 2008 to 2011, inventory-based research was undertaken in the Bondoukou region during the Festival of Zanzan (traditional dance, instruments and costumes) by the DPC, Direction de Ia promotion des arts et de Ia culture (DPAC, Directorate for Promotion of Arts and Culture) and the Centre national des arts et de Ia culture (CNAC, National Centre of Arts and Culture) and in the Korhogo region in 2012 during the Korhogo Festival of Sacred Arts. From 2001 to 2012, an inventory of traditional music and musical instruments was undertaken by the DPC and the MRAC.
As a result of financial and technical weaknesses, work on an intangible cultural heritage inventory as such has only been underway since 2012. The work began by building upon the inventory of music and musical instruments, as well as existing information on intangible cultural heritage in the national inventory of cultural heritage in general, expanded upon the basis of additional information from the Regional Directorates. Thus far, 25 elements have been inscribed. The main criteria used for the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage elements in the inventory are their specific features and the degree of threat they face. No decision has yet been taken on updating and the characteristics of the elements thus far identified need to be examined before this is decided upon.
Communities are seen as key in this process both as actors and as a resource, acting through their representatives, safeguarding associations and resource persons. Information meetings were held to introduce them to the inventory forms. Information missions were also conducted by the MRAC and the DPC with local administrative and customary authorities in order to identify locations for research in cooperation with community representatives. On this basis, the researchers prepared a timetable (dates and locations) for field research. The inventory process involves scientific bodies and different levels of Government (prefectures, sub-prefectures, districts, municipalities) with local interviewers and community members acting as key actors and resource persons. NGOs with a cultural brief play an important role in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, including its identification. An ‘open collaboration’ exists between local communities and NGOs and officials to define intangible cultural heritage and propose inscription on the inventory.
As for measures to promote the function of intangible cultural heritage in society, the MOC provides financial support to community associations and NGOs active in the field of culture in order to support their safeguarding activities. The Fonds de soutien à la culture et à la création artistique (FSCCA, Fund for Support of Culture and Artistic Creation) supports groups or associations that want to hold dance festivals. Several awareness-raising measures include holding Heritage Days and festivals and organizing commemorative ceremonies during regional festivals (e.g. the International Mother Tongue Language Day). In order to promote intangible cultural heritage and as part of the inter-ethnic reconciliation strategy of the early 2000s, the MOC launched a major programme of festivals, e.g. the N’zassa Festival, a great festival of many arts at Abidjan.
As far as education is concerned, since 2001 the Integrated Schools Project has trained and raised awareness of local languages in the new generation, teaching Ivorian mother-tongue languages from the primary level. The aim is to give children in rural and semi-urban areas the tools to write and read and this also contributes to strengthening cultural roots in society since it also includes teaching on local customs, dances and other art forms. Information on the inscribed elements will also be incorporated into school curricula in the form of practical awareness-raising workshops and by introducing young people to making the Balafon and Gbofe and the dances and songs related to both these elements.
Formal schooling, however, can also be seen as a threat to traditional institutions and forms of transmission of intangible cultural heritage. Today, it is difficult for young people who attend school to learn from their elders, practitioners and bearers of traditional knowledge and know-how. As a response, communities themselves have begun to establish traditional ‘schools’ where they teach their traditional values and cultural skills and knowledge to the young, e.g. know-how related to the Gbofe tradition with training organized by the drummers and trumpet players, dancers etc. Under the Commission for the Living Human Treasures programme, each laureate will be able to benefit from state support for their transmission activities. Education on natural places that are important for intangible cultural heritage is conducted through campaigns aimed at local people; such awareness-raising measures are reinforced by customary norms that prohibit certain practices on sacred sites and prescribe sanctions for their violation.
Examples of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation include the aforementioned collaboration between the DPC and the MRAC in the fields of music and organology. Researchers from the Department of African Musicology of the former lnstitut national des arts (INA, National Institute of Arts) have also collaborated with similar institutions in ten other regional countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’lvoire, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo) in collecting and safeguarding the traditional musical heritage of their countries. Côte d’lvoire has held several joint meetings with Mali and Burkina Faso over the practices and traditions related to the space of the Senufo communities who live in the three countries. Documents prepared by experts from each country are shared at the official level and made available to the communities concerned. Since 2004, Cote d’Ivoire has taken part in the international festival ‘Triangle of the Balafon’ with Mali and Burkino Faso which takes place annually at Sikasso (Mali) and Guinea, Senegal and Angola are invited to take part.
Côte d’Ivoire reports here on one element on the Representative List: Gbofe of Afounkaha, the music of the transverse trumps of the Tagbana community (incorporated in 2008, after having been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001). The proclamation and later incorporation of this element have strengthened the awareness of the importance of safeguarding it and all the traditions of the Tagbana people. In particular, this has made clear the need to unify the actions of practitioners, bearers, associations, national experts and local authorities in order to safeguard and enhance this intangible cultural heritage. The local communities have created the Association pour Ia sauvegarde des musiques de trompes traversières (ASMT-CI, Association for the Safeguarding of the Music of the Transverse Trumps). International recognition has also strengthened inter-communal dialogue among the Tagbana, Senufo and Malinke peoples of Cote d’lvoire, which is of particular importance in the context of post-war reconciliation. Following political turbulence, the Tagbana villages of the Gbofe area were emptied of their youth and the routes of transmission were cut; the new awareness has re-established transmission.