A training workshop on community-based inventorying of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) took place at the National Museum of Bamako from 5 to 10 September 2014. This workshop is part of the first phase of a project called ‘Inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Mali with a view to its urgent safeguarding’. It is the first project to be funded by the emergency international assistance mechanism of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for a total of more than 300 000 Dollars.
The workshop was organized by the Directorate for Heritage and Culture of Mali (DNPC) in partnership with UNESCO, the opening ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Culture, Ms N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, Mr Lazare Eloundou of the UNESCO Office in Bamako and representatives of various technical and financial partners, including those of the MINUSMA and the French Embassy in Mali, were in attendance.
The training is the first of a series of workshops on community-based inventorying that will take place at local level. It brought together 20 participants, including members of the local offices in Gao, Kidal, Mopti and Tombouctou and agents from the DNPC. It was facilitated by two experts from the UNESCO network from Burundi and Burkina Faso. Thanks to the logistical support of MINUSMA, participants from the north regions were able to travel to Bamako and take part in the different training module.
Mali’s intangible heritage: a national source of wealth to be preserved
‘Understanding the intangible cultural heritage of different communities contributes to intercultural dialogue and encourages mutual respect for other ways of living. It contributes to social cohesion and helps people to feel a sense of belonging to a community and to society as a whole’ declared Mr Lazare Eloundou, from the UNESCO Office in Bamako, in his welcoming address.
The socio-cultural and security crisis between April 2012 and January 2013 in Mali particularly touched the intangible cultural heritage in the north regions. The urgent safeguarding of that cultural heritage must then remain an absolute priority in this post-crisis context in those regions. This living heritage is made up of secular cultural practices and manifestations which are essential components of the Malian identity and its knowledge and identification are indeed crucial to the return of a harmonious coexistence and a lasting peace between the people.
The ultimate goal for this 10-day workshop was to define the bases for the inventory of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) strategy in the north of the country and raise awareness among the communities about the preservation of the cultural wealth. Indeed, as the international community pointed out in 2003 in the foreword of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, it is the ‘mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development’ of our societies and communities.
Training modules adapted to field work
One of the goals of the exercise was to provide necessary technical and training material to the staff that will be in charge of directing the inventory exercise so that they can in turn pass on that knowledge to the investigating team responsible for elaborating this inventory with the communities. The participants have had the opportunity to review various topics such as the type of ICH to inventory in Mali, inventorying techniques and strategies, the current state of ICH resources for each of the represented regions or the language dimension of the documentation process.
‘It will allow the participants to better understand the objectives of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and to master the tools, techniques and inventorying materials. This workshop will above all be an opportunity to understand better why it is necessary for communities to safeguard the resources of intangible cultural heritage in places that have an essentially oral civilization’ added the Minister of Culture, Ms N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, in her opening address.
‘The training has taught us a lot a new things, because we must admit that our knowledge in the field of intangible heritage is quite superficial. I was very happy with the demonstrations and I would like to congratulate the facilitators for their teaching abilities. I liked the clarity with which they spoke and thanks to their teaching, I will be able to keep on training myself’, noted Mr Boubacar Touré, workshop participant and former Regional Director of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture of Tombouctou.
The modules taught in the field, especially with the Sogonafing community located in the district III of Bamako, allowed the participants to become familiar with both practical and concrete aspects.
‘It was really interesting, the field practicum taught us a lot. We have gained new knowledge and learned how to proceed and how to address people. We will be able to use this knowledge and to train others in the field’ aslo said Mrs Assitan Samaké, from the Cultural Field of Djimoutou, in the Koulikoro region.
This activity is related to the implementation process of the project for the rehabilitation of the damaged heritage in the north of Mali started by the UNESCO Office in Bamako in March 2014 and is one more step in the move towards of social cohesion and peace building.
‘The objective of preparing inventories is not so much to build a reserve of documents for museum or research purposes but to allow communities to respect and understand the role of their own intangible cultural heritage in the life of the community through its identification and definition, whether at health, education or environment level or to resolve conflicts’ reminded Cecile Duvelle, Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The next step of the project is for the regional offices to organize training for the teams that will prepare the inventory of the circles and districts for which each four regions are responsible.