Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.A.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Mali has nominated Cultural practices and expressions linked to the ‘M’Bolon’, a traditional musical percussion instrument (01689) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding: The M’Bolon is a musical instrument with a large calabash sound box covered with cowhide and a bow-shaped wooden neck with strings. To amplify the sound vibrations, the player often wears a bell-like device made of metal plates with small oval-shaped lobes. This device is fitted with small iron rings and attached to the player’s hand by means of a pad with cords or an elastic band. The number of strings of the M’Bolon determines how it is used. Single-stringed and two-stringed M’Bolon are used for popular events and celebrations, as well as for rituals and religious ceremonies. Three-stringed and four-stringed M’Bolon are the most common. They are used to accompany the praising of traditional chiefs, celebrate the heroic deeds of kings, accompany farmers in the fields and rouse warriors. The M’Bolon can be played on its own or with other instruments, including the xylophone, talking drum and lutes. It is played in southern Mali by people of all ethnicities, genders and religions, and is taught through apprenticeships and by local associations. However, there is a limited number of initiates, and the practice is threatened by factors such as urbanization, the introduction of religions that prohibit traditional initiatory rites and practices, and decreasing interest among youth.
  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:  The practitioners and bearers of the element are initiates within each community who are responsible for teaching the element to youth through demonstration, immersion and feedback. M’Bolon is mainly a male practice, but in some communities, women are also practitioners. In several communities, there are also associations devoted to the promotion and instruction of M’Bolon. The element serves to promote social cohesion and dialogue between generations and allows for the intergenerational transmission of local history, genealogy, ancestral alliance pacts, case law, rituals and initiatory practices. The element does not contravene human rights instruments and supports cultural community practices and expressions.

U.4:  The file describes wide community participation in the inventorying process and preparation of the nomination file. The efforts were led by the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage and included awareness-raising sessions, data collection and analysis. This led to the preparation of the nomination file, which was verified by the participating associations. Free, prior and informed consent of community representatives is also established in the file.

U.5:  The element was inscribed in 2019 on the List of National Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inventory is administered by the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage. The National Directorate of Cultural Heritage teams conducted the inventorying process with the participation of communities, associations and non-governmental organizations. The inventory is updated every four years by the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage, in collaboration with the communities at the grassroots level.

  1. Considers that on the basis of the information provided by the State Party to the Committee at its present session, criteria U2 and U3 for inscription of the element on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding are met:

U.2:  The increased use of one- and two-stringed M’Bolon in festivals and official ceremonies is an indicator for guaranteeing the viability of the element. The file also describes the increase in the number of associations promoting the element in places where the element is widespread to help with its safeguarding, and shows that the spirit of educating and training young people has not been lost. Although the use or transmission of the element has not diminished to the point of seriously endangering its existence, changes in lifestyle, and factors such as urbanization, the exodus of youth from rural areas, the spread of religions that prohibit traditional initiation rites and practices, the rejection of traditional values by youth, the aging of practitioners and the disregard of rules, practices, and rituals associated with M’Bolon in favor of income generation, all endanger the element and could lead to a rapid deterioration of its social and cultural values if swift action is not taken.

U.3:  The file outlines the communities’ safeguarding efforts by establishing cultural gatherings, such as the M’Bolon Festival, encouraging the spread of associations to promote the element, and participating in the National Cultural Heritage Days (Journées nationales du patrimoine culturel). The element’s safeguarding plan identified seven objectives of the expected results over a period of three years. The proposed safeguarding measures aim at the transmission, education and awareness-raising of the element not only for young people and potential bearers, but also for national, regional and local administrative authorities as well as visitors. This objective will also be supported by research and documentation.

  1. Decides to inscribe Cultural practices and expressions linked to the ‘M’Bolon’, a traditional musical percussion instrument on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Requests the State Party to submit, for the next four years of inscription, biennial reports on the results of the measures taken to ensure the safeguarding of the element, and encourages the State Party to focus its efforts on the implementation of the proposed measures, especially on the safeguarding and promotion of the social and cultural values of the element.