Law No.024-2007/AN (2007) for the Protection of Cultural Heritage incorporates the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. A new national cultural policy was adopted in 2009 under the direction of the Ministry of Culture of which a large part is devoted to safeguarding and valorizing intangible cultural heritage. Under a Decree of 2013, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is the national body in overall charge of intangible cultural heritage and the executive Direction générale du patrimoine culturel (DGPC, Directorate-General of Cultural Heritage) within the Ministry. In 2013, the Comité national du patrimoine immatériel (National Intangible Cultural Heritage Commission) was established to coordinate the activities of all stakeholders in safeguarding, including university researchers, CSOs, communities etc. Other relevant bodies include the Direction Générale de la Semaine Nationale de la Culture (Directorate-General for the National Week of Culture); the Regional Directorate of Hauts-Bassins; the Museum of Music at Ouagadougou; the Senufo Community Cultural Centre; three Senufo musical and dance troupes; and the customary and traditional chiefs of the cultural space of Senufo.
The Ministry has introduced modules on intangible cultural heritage into the training curricula for staff at various managerial and expert levels through the Culture Section of the École nationale d’administration et de magistrature (ENAM, National Administration and Governance School). It is also planned that further training modules will be developed, with the help of the UNESCO Cluster Office at Bamako.
The DGPC holds some intangible cultural heritage documentation in its Documentation Centre, which is freely available to different groups (the public, researchers, students, community members), as are the inventory fiches. Eighteen intangible cultural heritage documentation centres have also been set up in other state bodies (11 university libraries, the National Library, the ENAM library, the National Archives and the audio-visual archives at the Cinémathèque africaine de Ouagadougou). Access in person to all of these is free but there remains the problem of ensuring access to rural populations. The Internet site of the Ministry also contains several pages on intangible cultural heritage elements.
An initial intangible cultural heritage inventory was established in 2007 on the basis of an inventory form developed with the support of the UNESCO Cluster Office at Bamako. The main ordering principle was territorial and this work led to the inventorying of 30 elements from four ethno-cultural communities of western and central Burkina Faso (Mossi, Bobo, Bwa, Senufo), responding to all five of the Convention’s intangible cultural heritage domains. International Assistance was granted by the Committee in December 2012 (of US$262,080) to implement a project entitled ‘Inventory and promotion of intangible cultural heritage in Burkina Faso’.
In 2009 and 2010, a thematic inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of the Senufo lands was carried out (bringing up-to-date a pre-existing 2003 inventory) and this formed the basis for the multinational nomination file for the balafon in 2011-12. There exist 45 other thematic inventories on initiation rites, rites for the introduction of traditional chiefs, and practices and expressions associated with masks etc. (the latter was undertaken in 2000 by an NGO called l’Association pour la sauvegarde des masques ASAMA, Association for Safeguarding of Masks). The results are publicly available and will be entered in the future into a national intangible cultural heritage database. Through consultations with communities, their clear and informed verbal consent was obtained for any inventorying. The basic principle was the identification by communities of their intangible cultural heritage and their participation at all stages of the process (awareness-raising, the collection and processing of data, and the validation of inventory results etc.). Interviews with community members were conducted. Research centres and civil society organizations also participated.
Ten pieces of legislation were examined and revised in order to render them more responsive to the needs of intangible cultural heritage and its communities. In 2005, the National Future Study – Vision for Development was adopted, the aim being for the country to open up to the world by 2025 with culture as a main pillar of development. Culture is viewed as a resource for diversity and a basis for identity that should be taken into account in all strategies and policies; intangible cultural heritage, in particular, plays a central role in this by ensuring social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. The Stratégie de croissance accélérée et de développement durable (SCADD, Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Development) has also taken the culture sector as a pillar of development. The 2009 National Culture Policy provides for the protection and valorization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage; encourages and supports local and national initiatives for cultural promotion; promotes indigenous values and know-how in development strategies; develops human resources and the potential of actors through professional training and specialized education; and develops research in the area of culture.
Among the measures to ensure the recognition of, respect for and enhancement of intangible cultural heritage, various events, such as National Culture Week, the International Craftsmanship Salon at Ouagadougou, and festivals, fairs etc. present intangible cultural heritage elements that carry community values, thus contributing to national unity through, for example, the practice of alliances in the ‘joking relationship’ (the system in which each ethno-cultural community is linked to at least one other). On the DGPC’s initiative, radio and TV programmes on aspects of intangible cultural heritage have been produced and transmitted.
A study is in progress relating to the introduction of heritage into educational programmes (jointly by the Ministry of Education and several other ministries, including the Ministry of Culture). The idea is to introduce cultural and artistic modules into the educational curricula in the country. This has received support from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. Also, training is to be provided for secondary school teachers on how to introduce intangible cultural heritage into their teaching. More generally, the DGPC has organized awareness-raising sessions in schools, training centres, and within communities as well as demonstration sessions for the transmission of skills and know-how. Awareness-raising days have been held in Tiébéle (the capital of the Kassena lands) on the importance of and need for the transmission of intangible cultural heritage to young girls as well as sessions in which young girls are introduced to traditional painting techniques and mural decoration, an art exclusively practised by Kassena women. Indeed, threats to transmission to girls are seen as a major challenge for the future viability of intangible cultural heritage.
As far as bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation is concerned, the inscription of the balafon element in 2011, in cooperation with Mali, and then in 2012 including Cote d’Ivoire, demonstrates Burkina Faso’s readiness for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in intangible cultural heritage. Burkina Faso has also shared its inventory format with other West African states and intangible cultural heritage has been incorporated into recent cultural agreements with other countries.
The inscription of ‘Practices and cultural expressions related to the Balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire’ on the Representative List has given the Senufo community a new sense of its mission to continue the practice and they have begun to organize themselves into associations for this purpose. Awareness among the audiences has been raised through media coverage etc. and the notion of ‘intangible cultural heritage’ itself has gained a currency it did not previously have. The element’s viability is guaranteed by the community’s attachment to it and the continued practice of the artisan-musicians. Importantly, youth transmission through formal and non-formal means remains unaffected by social changes. For the present report, the DGPC prepared a provisional draft based on information collected. This was amended and accepted at a workshop held in Ouagadougou which involved 12 community representatives, along with representatives from research institutes, CSOs, local authorities and the Burkina Faso National Commission for UNESCO.