Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.a.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Botswana has nominated Dikopelo folk music of Bakgatla ba Kgafela in Kgatleng District (No. 01290) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
The Dikopelo music practice involves vocal singing and dancing in a patterned choreography without musical instruments in which people from a particular area join together to sing as a choir. The element is practised by men, women and children but is mostly dominated by Elders who, forming an informal Council of Advisors, transmit their skills to the younger generation. Dikopelo is a communal practice involving a shared vision of community life. The element is no longer as widespread as it was in the past. Though Dikopelo originated as a communal event practised on farmlands, due to the decline in people engaged in farming the choirs have moved to villages where modernization makes practising it more difficult. Modern entertainment practices have also reduced the number of knowledgeable practitioners capable of explaining the significance of the element. However, though the viability of Dikopelo is low, the community and practitioners are committed to safeguarding it, as illustrated by their willingness to compete with groups from other districts and efforts to revive Dikopelo as a strategy to protect young people from social ills and promote positive messages among the community.
  1. Decides 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 element is clearly described in terms of its practice, the bearers involved, its transmission and its cultural relevance for the community, including an explanation of its historical development and contemporary needs. Despite its competitive character, the element contributes to the peaceful resolution of conflicts within communities. The practice provides an avenue for rural communities to forge solidarity and share common values that can be shared by a wider community, including their well-wishers.

U.2:   The endangered status of the element is fully substantiated by the threats identified in its social and economic contexts. These include the migration of young people to larger cities, a lack of cultural spaces and opportunities to practise the element and the popularity of various forms of modern music, among others. Some modern individual artists, while being detached from communal practices, often missapropriate this community tradition by utilizing patterns of Dikopelo in instrumental performances. Consequently, the communities have raised concerns about such misuses.

U.3:   Developed with the active participation of communities, the safeguarding plan includes measures addressing threats to the element. It incorporates a diversity of safeguarding initiatives, such as research and documentation activities aiming at raising awareness of the public, the development of educational materials and promotional activities through various media, which are expected to increase the visibility of the element at the national and international levels. In addition, an annual festival will be established to strengthen the viability of the element, in particular by encouraging its practice outside of the festive season. 

U.4:   The active participation of the communities was ensured throughout the nomination process, which is the result of their expressions of concern about the future viability of the element. Associations of bearers, institutions and traditional and formal authorities provided their consent.

U.5:   Since 2010, the element has been registered in the intangible cultural heritage inventory in Kgatleng District, which is regularly updated and managed by the Phuthadikobo Museum and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. Evidence of the participation of the communities concerned is provided.

  1. Inscribes Dikopelo folk music of Bakgatla ba Kgafela in Kgatleng District on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.