Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.22

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Mauritius has nominated Sega tambour of Rodrigues Island (No. 01257) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Sega Tambour of Rodrigues Island is a vibrant rhythmic performance of music, song and dance with its origins in slave communities. The leading percussion, the tambour, is banged energetically, while a triyang is hit from the side and the bwat and mayos are clapped. Sega Tambour is performed all over Rodrigues Island in the home and on the streets, at formal and informal functions. The primary bearers are the Rodrigues community, as well as the diaspora on the island of Mauritius and elsewhere, and the art is open to everyone irrespective of age, gender or status. With its origins in defiance and resilience, Sega Tambour facilitates conflict resolution, fosters socialization and consolidates bonds. The government recognizes it as a symbol of the history of the Rodriguan community. Sega Tambour is safeguarded through the efforts of numerous groups that have sprung up since the 1970s and a dedicated non-governmental organization now exists. Competitions and rehearsals are organized in community centres, and the element is also performed in tourism facilities, contributing to the generation of revenue for performers. Knowledge and skills relating to the practice are transmitted from elders to youth through imitation and observation, and instrument-making skills are learned through apprenticeship with experienced craftspeople.

  1. Decides 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:   Sega Tambour is an exhilarating, rhythmic performance involving music, song and dance, as well as associated theatrical expressions. It is practised in both formal and informal contexts, in the home, in local neighborhoods, on the streets and in tourist facilities. The bearers of the element are the Rodriguan community and the language it is practised in is Rodriguan Creole. Through its unity of purpose, the element bridges the gap between the class and status of participants, celebrating a common identity. Elders in the communities are responsible for teaching others about the local tradition. Family is seen as the centre of the oral transmission of the element, and there is at least one performing group ensuring its continuity in each of the island’s villages. Conflict resolution in the community is an essential function of Sega Tambour, as is socialization, since the practice helps to connect neighbours and spread news. Sega Tambour also supports environmental sustainability through the promotion of the use of recycled items for making the instruments.

R.2:   The function of Sega Tambour as a viable, effective mechanism of conflict resolution could attract considerable attention thanks to the creative approach taken to settling disputes, highlighting the relevance of living heritage for social cohesion. The inscription of the element would also encourage further dialogue within various communities about the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Furthermore, the inscription would create opportunities for performing arts and artists to interact and exchange with artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds. This would further increase participation in national and international competitions and festivals and create wider international performing communities, thereby contributing to intercultural dialogue.

R.3:   Through a comprehensive cultural policy framework, the Government of Mauritius acts in close collaboration with members of the Rodriguan community of all gender and age groups, with their full participation. The file points out that Sega Tambour is part of a ‘creative economy’ and contributes to the livelihoods of craftspersons and performers. Various institutions and community organizations, such as the Groupement des Artistes Rodriguais, the Commission of Arts, Culture and Others, the Ministry of Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Education, the National Heritage Fund (NHF) and the Rodrigues Regional Assembly have undertaken efforts to safeguard the element. Proposed measures listed include: research, documentation and archiving activities; the establishment of national associations and participation in festivals. The file also lists a number of past and current safeguarding efforts, including: the performance of Sega Tambour during official occasions and on homesteads, with the ongoing transmission of the element from older people to youth; the integration of Sega Tambour into school curricula and tertiary education; and encouraging families, groups and individuals to perform Sega Tambour informally as a communal practice. Schools and community centers provide spaces for practitioners and the national media promote the element widely. The comprehensive safeguarding measures proposed also acknowledge the challenges that exist, such as increased visibility following the inscription of the element, as well possible negative consequences such as over-commercialization.

R.4:   Representatives of the Sega Tambour community, including practitioners, knowledge bearers, groups (such as non-governmental organizations, specific governmental bodies and the Museum Council), individuals, instrument-makers, dancers, singers, musicians, other artists, both men and women, youth representatives and broader audiences have been fully involved in all stages of the nomination process through various workshops since 2010. The file presents a large number of personalized letters and video recordings expressing free, prior and informed consent to the nomination. There are no customary practices governing access to the element.

R.5:   Sega Tambour of Rodrigues Island was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage for the Republic of Mauritius in 2011 and also figures in the official directory approved in 2013. Representatives of practitioners, artists, instrument-makers and community organizations participated in the identification of the element and in the compilation and revision of the inventory entry. The inventory is regularly updated and is maintained by the NHF.

  1. Inscribes Sega tambour of Rodrigues Island on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for the community-based methodology used in the preparation of the nomination;
  3. Further commends the State Party for safeguarding measures aimed at monitoring the possible impacts of the increased visibility and over-commercialization of the element.