Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.B.8

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo have nominated Congolese rumba (no. 01711) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Congolese rumba is a musical genre and dance common in urban areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Generally danced by a male-female couple, it is a multicultural form of expression originating from an ancient dance called nkumba (meaning ‘waist’ in Kikongo). The rumba is used for celebration and mourning, in private, public and religious spaces. It is performed by professional and amateur orchestras, choirs, dancers and individual musicians, and women have played a predominant role in the development of religious and romantic styles. The tradition of Congolese rumba is passed down to younger generations through neighbourhood clubs, formal training schools and community organisations. For instance, rumba musicians maintain clubs and apprentice artists to carry on the practice and the manufacture of instruments. The rumba also plays an important economic role, as orchestras are increasingly developing cultural entrepreneurship aimed at reducing poverty. The rumba is considered an essential and representative part of the identity of Congolese people and its diaspora. It is perceived as a means of conveying the social and cultural values of the region and of promoting intergenerational and social cohesion and solidarity.

  1. Considers 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:  The rumba is a musical genre and dance practiced mainly in the cities of Kinshasa and Brazzaville. The element includes the manufacture of traditional and modern instruments and is transmitted to apprentices through practice, fan clubs, neighbourhood youth groups, and formal settings, such as art academies and schools. Its function and meaning are found in entertainment, festivity and mourning. The practice of the element builds solidarity and promotes entrepreneurship among practitioners and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo as a whole.

R.2:  The inscription of the element will enhance the visibility of intangible cultural heritage locally, nationally and internationally. The general notion of intangible cultural heritage will be reinforced and promoted at the community level. This will be complemented by national commitment to its promotion. Internationally, greater awareness will be achieved through the popularization of the element. The cross-border nature of the element will contribute to increased dialogue while strengthening diversity and human creativity in associated literature and film and during festivals.

R.3:  The file demonstrates that the safeguarding measures are well-conceived and will ensure the viability of the element. Current efforts by the State Parties include formal teaching, annual and official festivals and awards. Proposed measures include: (a) the founding of a Rumba Museum in Brazzaville and Kinshasa; (b) an awareness campaign to highlight possible negative effects of inscription, including commercial exploitation; (c) training in the formal musical components; and (d) incentivizing the participation of women. Notably, the State Parties have agreed on policies to increase cross-border tours and exchanges among artists, students and researchers. The file also illustrates the participation of practitioners in both countries in the development of the proposed measures.

R.4:  The file provides clear indication of the communities’ involvement in the preparation of the file at different phases of the nomination process. There was support and coordination by both State Parties, for example, at the joint scientific symposium in March 2020. Notably, special attention was made to ensure gender representation; the role of women practitioners was highlighted in the file, as well as their role in the implementation of the safeguarding measures. Free, prior and informed consent was well-established in the file.

R.5:  The element is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Heritage of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo’s Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inventories are administered by the History and Oral Traditions section of the National Museum and the General Directorate for Heritage and Archives, respectively. The inventories are updated every three years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Republic of the Congo, they are recommended for updating every four years. The file also establishes that communities were involved during the identification and inventorying phases.

  1. Decides to inscribe Congolese rumba on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Parties on a well-prepared file, which is a demonstration of their solidarity and collaboration;
  3. Further commends the State Parties for their first inscription.