The seminar was organized in Accra in January 1999. Participants from seventeen countries took part in the seminar. A questionnaire was sent to forty states, of which twentyseven sent responses. This provided a good overview of the situation of applying the Recommendation in the region. This was supplemented by further reports from countries.
The seminar reviewed their understanding of the content of traditional culture and folklore. It sought to identify the factors that had sustained it in the past but that are now absent. It was evident that little had been done to implement the Recommendation beyond the steps taken after independence by the newly independent states. Governments were seen to rely on this heritage in strategies for nation-building and encouraging the formation of cultural identity. Reference was made to the role institutions and the media play, but a general lack of coordination, systematic collection, national cultural policies, resources, and manpower, etc., were seen as serious problems. This is unfortunate in light of what oral cultures can bring to the construction and reconstruction of contemporary cultures in Africa under their rubric of: “make the past a part of the present.”
In future actions, safeguarding of traditional culture should be understood within the everyday realities of African countries and not from the “academic” perspective embodied in the Recommendation. The need for a manual on folklore to be used as a resource by local teachers was discussed. The use of anthropological techniques for information-gathering by local, literate people was also considered, an action for which there are precedents from early twentieth-century Africa. The need for urgent action in gathering information on traditional cultures was stressed along with the need to revitalize cultures in order to counteract the residue of colonialism.
A major theme of the seminar was reintegrating traditional culture into modern lives and sharing it with members of the world community to show