Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.b.21

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Madagascar has nominated Malagasy Kabary, the Malagasy oratorical art (no. 01741) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Malagasy kabary is a poeticized speech performed in front of an audience. It is highly structured and consists of proverbs, maxims, rhetorical figures and wordplay. The ritualistic style of speech was originally used by leaders to inform the community about social life and administration. Over time, communities started using it to communicate and for social events. It thus became inseparable from social life in Madagascar, used for festivities, funerals, official ceremonies and popular events. Its function is to express values and thoughts that give collective meaning to material facts. In practice, Malagasy kabary takes place as a conventional dialogue, usually involving two orators, or mpikabary, in front of a gathering. It can last several hours, but in certain circumstances (such as during funerals), the structure is simplified to last around ten minutes. Although traditionally performed by older, elite men, today it is increasingly performed by young people and women. At the family level, it contributes to cohesion when performed at meetings where all generations are present and partake in the performance. In the public sphere, it is viewed as a means of strengthening relationships between groups and communities, creating an atmosphere of sharing and cohesion.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:  The element is performed widely across Madagascar and by the Malagasy diaspora. It is traditionally performed by older men but is increasingly being performed by younger people, including women. The element is transmitted from generation to generation in both formal and informal contexts. Its practice contributes to social cohesion and is a means of communication between families. It also facilitates the exchange of information and knowledge, is a source of income for orators and supports language preservation.

R.2:  The file demonstrates that inscription of the element will ensure greater visibility and awareness about the element and about intangible cultural heritage in general. At the local level, it will help to re-popularize the tradition. At the national level, it will encourage the government, the institutions concerned and communities to give priority to and invest in the field of culture and to pursue the study, collection and documentation of new elements to be included in national inventories. At the international level, inscription will spark interest among communities, groups and individuals in submitting other elements for nomination to the Convention’s mechanisms. As the element is based on communication through public presentations, inscription would also serve to reinforce the practice. The promotion of human creativity is reflected in the diversity of the themes expressed through the element, while respect for cultural diversity is enhanced through its presentation to multicultural audiences.

R.3:  The file outlines a broad set of safeguarding measures that address intangible cultural heritage in general and the element itself. Past and current initiatives include: (a) the adoption of a ministerial decree concerning the inscription of the element in the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage; (b) the celebration of Malagasy language throughout the month of June and on International Mother Language Day on 21 February; (c) the opening of heritage studies courses at the University of Antananarivo for the transmission and safeguarding of the element; and (d) the implementation of training and transmission activities by mpikabary associations. To ensure viability of the element, the file proposes State support for training schools and for the mpikabary, a broad media campaign, documentation of variants of the element, the creation and updating of websites related to the element and its bearers, and the organization of a National Malagasy Kabary Day.

R.4:  The file indicates that the nomination process was aided by the widest possible participation of communities, bearers and other concerned individuals through a series of workshops. This was facilitated by the establishment of a working group including local government representatives and the Ministry of Culture. The communities were duly informed of the intention and objectives of the nomination process and were able to review and support the process through to the validation of the application. It is noted that in the documents attached to the nomination a letter from a mpikabary association outlines a set of recommendations.

R.5:  The element was listed in 2015 in the National Register of Intangible Heritage that is administered by the Ministry of Communication and Culture and was inventoried via a decree with the participation of various groups and community organizations. The element was identified by a mutual decision among representatives of the communities concerned, practitioners, bearers, representatives of local authorities, research institutes, cultural specialists and various associations. They had the opportunity to update and expand the inventory sheet through surveys and produced a short film.

  1. Decides to inscribe Malagasy Kabary, the Malagasy oratorical art on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to take particular heed of the impact of tourism and undue commercialization on the safeguarding of the element in order to prevent its potential de-contextualization;
  3. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention;
  4. Reminds the State Party to ensure community participation is central to the identification of elements, inventorying and updating of inventories.