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South Africa will soon adhere to UNESCO Convention

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South Africa will soon adhere to UNESCO Convention

by Nthambeleni Gabara
27 Mar 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Arts and Culture Minister, Dr Pallo Jordaan says South Africa will soon adhere to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

The minister said this during the opening of the UNESCO workshop on capacity building on the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage held the Saint George Hotel in Pretoria on Thursday.

He said the country's steps towards adhering to the UNESCO Convention on the safeguarding on intangible cultural heritage were at an advanced stage.

The department has initiated the development of a stand alone national policy on intangible cultural heritage.

"As a country, we have already made some progress in advancing issues of intangible cultural heritage."

There are 90 members of the Intangible Heritage Convention.

He said that the promotion and preservation of heritage should unfold in the manner that respects the dignity of people and upholds cultural diversity.

Mr Jordaan said various cultural groups should share their experiences and develop opportunities for cultural exchange within the provinces, countries, regions and internationally.

The minister said government did not regard cultural diversity as a burden or a threat to nation building, but rather valued it as a resource.

"Our continent is faced with many challenges, often fuelled by poverty and a consequent competition for scarce resources," he said.

The UNESCO workshop was attended by over 50 representatives from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Tanzania, Eritrea, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Swaziland and Lesotho to mention a few.

The workshop is focusing on introducing the convention to cultural officials of Southern African nations.

It will also seek to explain the ratification process as well as considering how they might implement the convention to best achieve its goals.

UNESCO representative, Ms Reiko Yoshida said that within the convention, ICH is defined as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

The intangible heritage convention will establish two lists, which will be the list of ICH in need of urgent safeguarding and the representative list of the ICH of humanity.

"The purpose of the lists are to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage, values and lack of interest among the young generation in maintaining it," said Yoshida.

The workshop received a financial injection from the Norway government within the framework of UNESCO. -BuaNews

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