By Caleb Ayansina
The Federal government has said that it was reviewing the current National Policy on culture to reflect the provisions required for effective safeguarding of the 2003 Convention on the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the country.
Consequently, the government solicited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to help in documenting the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage; such as performing arts, social practices, traditional craftsmanship among others.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, stated this at the launching of the project for the support of the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultur
al Heritage (ICH) in Nigeria, in Abuja.
The convention had the theme: “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nigeria”.
The Minister represented by the Director of International Relation, Mr George Ufot, recalled that prior to the ratification of the convention in 2005, Nigeria had actively involved in the intergovernmental meetings leading to the elaboration and adoption of the convention.
Duke however maintained that much achievement could not be recorded due to gaps in the existing legislation as well as the insufficient human power to enable the safeguard of ICH in the country.
“As inventories are the first step of safeguarding and a state obligation to drive the process forward. It is important to seek some assistance that is why we have asked for UNESCO’s financial assistance for comprehensive documentation our vast Intangible Cultural Resources in a software data base and a hard copy publication.”
The Minister noted that “Nigeria has presently the inscribed elements, two namely the Oral Heritage of Gelede along with the Republic of Benin, and Togo and Ifa Divination System, a unique corpus of knowledge, formally proclaimed Masterpieces were integrated in 2008 in to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity along with 88 other elements from different countries.”
Also speaking, the Regional Country Director,UNESCO, Prof. Hassana Alidou, noted that there was need to develop a database of the various tangible and intangible cultural heritage and services across the country.
Alidou added that training and retraining of cultural administrators would also help in safeguarding the ICH.
The Director assured that UNESCO would create awareness among ministries, departments and agencies, including the United Nations agencies on the importance of culture for development.