Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 10.31

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Niger has nominated Practices and expressions of joking relationships in Niger (No. 01009) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Joking relationships are a social practice performed among ethnolinguistic communities, groups and individuals to promote fraternity, solidarity and conviviality. They take the form of a playful taunting between two people from two communities that represent symbolically the husband and wife cross-cousin branches of the same family. Such relationships are often based on ancestral pacts forbidding conflict or war between specific communities, and imply that the members must love one another and provide assistance where needed. The members have a duty to tell each other the truth, to joke together and to pool their respective assets, knowing that any dispute must be settled peacefully. Joking relationships are practised in public places, in the fields, offices, market places, at water sources and in the home, every day as well as on special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, ceremonies and funerals, commercial transactions, and cultural and entertainment events. The first lunar month is especially devoted to joking relationships along with other associated rituals. Transmitted informally from generation to generation, joking relationships are a tool for reconciliation and peace-building and promote the cohesion and stability of families, ethnic groups and communities. They foster social equality with regard to both age and hierarchy and promote intergenerational dialogue.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.1:   Based on the virtues of tolerance, solidarity, fraternity, freedom and non-violence, the practices and expressions of joking relationships in Niger are used as a tool for regulating social tensions; they are transmitted from generation to generation within families, trades and religious groups or as part of celebrations and commemorations;

R.2:   Inscription of the element on the Representative List could contribute to encouraging inter-community dialogue through the promotion of mutual respect and the cultural diversity embodied in the different communities that share this practice, while fostering appreciation for joking relationships and other traditional expressions of peaceful coexistence;

R.3:   Safeguarding measures are proposed in the legislative, regulatory, promotional, transmission and research fields, including the design of teaching materials on joking relationships aimed at school children, youth and the general public as well as the development and dissemination of a code for joking relationships in Niger; the proposed measures reflect a wide participation of concerned communities and the submitting State’s commitment;

R.4:   Tribal leaders, representatives of ethnolinguistic groups, local authorities, municipal and regional departments of culture and non-governmental organizations actively participated in all stages of the nomination process; written evidence of their free, prior and informed consent was provided;

R.5:   The practices and expressions of joking relationships figured into a general inventory of cultural heritage elaborated in 1989-1990 with the participation of communities, and are registered since 2011 in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, maintained by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture;

  1. Inscribes Practices and expressions of joking relationships in Niger on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Recommends the State Party to focus its efforts on concrete measures to safeguard the specific practices and expressions of joking relationships, in close association with the communities of practitioners.