Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 14.COM 10.b.27

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Nigeria has nominated Kwagh-Hir theatrical performance (No. 00683) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Kwagh-Hir theatrical performance is a composite art form encompassing a spectacle that is both visually stimulating and culturally edifying. Kwagh-hir has its roots in the story-telling tradition of the Tiv people called ‘kwagh-alom’, a practice where the family was treated to a storytelling session by creative storytellers, usually in the early hours of the night after the day’s farming work. With time, creative storytellers began to dramatize these stories, culminating in the present stage and status of Kwagh-hir. The practice is a social performance with the potential to entertain and teach moral lessons through the dramatization and performance of past and current social realities. As a form of total theatre, Kwagh-hir incorporates puppetry, masquerading, poetry, music, dance and animated narratives in articulating the reality of the Tiv people. People’s daily struggles, aspirations, successes and failures are all given expression through creative dramatization. Kwagh-hir theatre is owned by the community, with knowledge and skills being transmitted through apprenticeship. People who indicate an interest in the troupe’s activities are trained and mentored until they reach a certain level of proficiency; they are then accepted into the troupe. Regular performances are held to ensure the art is kept alive and that the younger generation continues to identify with it.

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

R.1:   Kwagh-hir is a form of total theatre which serves as an effective cultural and traditional mechanism for transmitting values and norms to the community. This dynamic performance consists of dramatized oral tales recounted by its bearers, expressing their history, identity, moral values and religious beliefs. In this way, Kwagh-hir theatre mitigates the sociocultural, political, economic and religious challenges of society through the messages it conveys.

R.2:   Due to the regular presentation of the element at national festivals, its inscription may raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage both in connection with the element and beyond. The submitting State primarily expects to raise the profile of the tradition and attract tourists and foreign researchers interested in exploring and maintaining Nigerian traditions. The inscription would also trigger international debates and dialogue on the art form, which are expected to lead to a better appreciation of it by the international audience.

R.5:   Kwagh-hir was included in the Inventory of Nigerian Cultural Resources in 2006. The UNESCO Division of the Department of International Cultural Relations, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria is the body responsible for maintaining the inventory. It is being reviewed based on the outcome of the project ‘Support to the effective implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nigeria’, funded by UNESCO.

  1. Further considers that the information included in the file was not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.3:   The State Party and communities concerned have undertaken several safeguarding measures since the 1980s. The proposed safeguarding measures continue with these efforts but measures are not proposed to counter the possible impacts of the inscription on the viability of the element. In this context, the main concern is that, though the nomination file mentions tourism as a potential threat to Kwagh-hir, there are no proposed measures to prevent the potential decontextualization of the element due to increased tourism.

R.4:   The nomination process is described as being very participatory throughout, including consultations with all the key stakeholders of the element. However, the file only includes a letter signed by thirteen persons from one of the eight communities described. It is not clear how the other communities (Makurdi, Adikpo, Katsina-Ala, Zaki Biam, Konshisha, Vandeikya and Tarka) participated in the nomination process, which suggests that this was undertaken by only one of the many groups concerned with the element. The complexity of the community behind the nomination process and their active participation in it therefore needs to be clarified.

  1. Further takes note that, having considered that the information included in the file was not sufficient to determine whether criteria R.3 and R.4 are satisfied and that a short question and answer process with the submitting State might clarify whether the nomination meets the criteria concerned, the Evaluation Body decided, pursuant to Decision 13.COM 10, to initiate a ‘dialogue’ process in order to obtain information on the following questions:

R.3: What kind of measures will be taken in order to ensure that the viability of the element will not be jeopardized? For example, how will the safeguarding measures prevent the potential decontextualization of the element as a result of increased tourism?

R.4: Taking into account that many communities other than the Gboko community are concerned with the element, how did these other communities (Makurdi, Adikpo, Katsina-Ala, Zaki Biam, Konshisha, Vandeikya and Tarka) participate in the nomination process?

  1. Also takes note of the information provided thereon by the submitting State as well as the subsequent opinion of the Evaluation Body, as documented in LHE/19/14.COM/INF.10, which considers that the answers provided adequately address the questions (under paragraph 4);
  2. Considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the ‘dialogue’ process as well as the subsequent opinion of the Evaluation Body, criteria R.3 and R.4 are satisfied;
  3. Decides to inscribe Kwagh-Hir theatrical performance on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  4. Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on the periodicity of updating of the Inventory of Nigerian Cultural Resources, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.

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