At launch of project on intangible cultural heritage: Culture minster emphasises importance of safeguarding customs, traditions.

Minister Bidoung speaking at the launch

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Bidoung Kpwatt, has reiterated the importance of safeguarding Cameroonian customs and traditions, which, he said, are elements of the nation’s cultural identity, as well as drivers of economic growth and development.   

He was speaking in Yaounde on July 2.

This was at the ceremony to officially launch the pilot project to create an inventory of the intangible cultural heritages of the Centre Region, to be executed in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO. 

In his opening address, Minister Bidoung Kpwatt expressed gratitude to UNESCO for maintaining the friendly, fruitful, dynamic relations that exist between the country and the international institution, as well as the constant effort to support government action in safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage.

He said to ensure the effective execution of the project, a seminar was held to strengthen the capacity of trainers who will lead inventory teams to local communities in all ten divisions of the Centre Region, to train locals on how to identify and document elements of intangible cultural heritage.

“This project is capital for human and economic development. In effect, it is concerned with preserving the collective memory of our heritage, rich in diversity,” Bidoung Kpwatt said.

The minister added that through the project, traditional expressions, social practices, traditional dances and music, alongside traditional artisanal knowhow, among others, will be spotlighted and documented.

“MINAC will spare no efforts to bring this project to completion,” Bidoung Kpwatt stated.

20240702_154302Cultural heritage stakeholders pose for group photo



Enter cultural heritage experts 

The Regional Director of UNESCO for Central Africa, Paul Coustère, on his part, expressed enthusiasm to create a systemic repertory of Cameroon’s intangible cultural heritage through the Ministry of Arts and Culture.

“Today, our work takes a new dimension, as it has as basis the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In Cameroon, the Nguon festival and four other traditional practices are already on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’s list,” Coustère said. 

He added that this pilot project is to document an exhaustive list of Cameroon’s cultural practices that fall in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity category so that it can be registered by UNESCO.

“Cameroon is already making tremendous effort to list its intangible cultural heritage and document its traditions. Now it is taking the next step that will promote its customs and traditions globally,” Coustère continued.

He said the project has kicked off in the Centre Region, but will progressively expand to other regions, so that the world can benefit from Cameroon’s rich cultural heritage.

The Director of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Edjoa Akaoa, explained that cultural heritage, which is an collective of the entire customs and traditions of a nation, can be split into two main groups: material heritage which is physical notably sites, monuments, museums and immaterial which is considered intangible notably dances, music, culinary and artisanal arts among others.

“Preserving this intangible cultural heritage will give an identity to our communities,” Akaoa said.

She added that the project is set to last for 18 months, during which teams will be sent to the field, to work in close collaboration with the local population to exhaustively carry out a census of all intangible cultural heritages and at the end document them in a catalogue.

20240702_154438Paul Coustère speaking to the press



Enter custodians of culture

Also present at the launch was some traditional rulers of the Centre Region, who expressed contentment with the pilot project.

“Culture contributes immensely to the growth and development of societies, and as the custodians of the traditions of the Centre Region, we are happy with this project. Documenting our cultures and traditions assure us that it will not be lost or forgotten, and it will bring us much needed international exposure and by extension develop our people,” the rulers said.



This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue N0: 3158 of Thursday July 4, 2024



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