Traditional leaders emphasise the value of safeguarding living heritage during pandemics
Traditional leaders who attended the inaugural Mvura Naya Naya Culture Festival held on 27 July 2021 in Zimbabwe reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding living heritage during pandemics such as CVID-19. They noted that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government to flatten the curve of infections had affected intangible cultural heritage and there was need for innovative safeguarding measures.
The National Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa’s support spearheaded the workshop. The Chiefs noted that the continuity of practicing and safeguarding living heritage is essential and that there is need to acknowledge and support the people who are transmitting the knowledge. They said culture within a society depends on its people who preserve traditions, skills, and customs, from which it leaks into other parts of the community, and then from generation to generation.
Facilitated by Chief Nechombo and Chief Chikwaka, the meeting agreed on:
The need for traditional skills and intangible heritage knowledge to continue being transmitted and taught through conducting online workshops and lectures.
The need for increased inventorying of ICH elements
The need for setting up district Intangible Cultural Heritage Committees
The need for setting up a regional ICH Chair or Centre
Awareness raising on the importance of the UNESCO 2003 Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, among traditional leaders and local communities is important. Traditional leaders are the bearers and custodians of cultural values, traditions and customs and the traditional governance systems are critical in the preservation and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Traditional leaders remain critical in the effective management of cultural heritage as custodians and connoisseurs of traditions.