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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has assured Botswana stands ready to continue working with the international community through UNESCO to deliver on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity for generations to come.
Since joining UNESCO in 1980, Botswana has remained a loyal and very supportive Member in the realisation of the organisation’s global mission for human development. The country has also remained fully engaged in the implementation of the 2003 Convention.
Masisi said this during the official opening of the 18th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (18.COM) in Kasane this week.
Masisi noted that Botswana’s national policy on Culture recognised the importance of Intangible cultural heritage, adding that his hope is that by hosting the event, it demonstrates the importance of the ICH and its safeguarding and transmission of living heritage so much cherished by Batswana.
Masisi further stated that by working with the community of nations through UNESCO on delivering of ICH of humanity for generations to come, Botswana stands to benefit immensely through saving its culture, varied in ethnicity, language and traditions.
‘‘While Botswana is by no means a homogenous society, as a nation-state we identify as one unitary political formation enriched by cultural diversity, with certain overarching values and principles of our nationhood, this is what has defined us as a nation for centuries, and will remain so because we subscribe and adhere to the ethos of multi-culturalism,” he said.
According to Masisi, Botswana has remained fully engaged in the implementation of the 2003 Convention which considers communities as the drivers of the Convention, as it is the communities that decide those cultural practices and norms that are important to them and in need of safeguarding for future generations.
‘‘In order to promote a wider awareness of the 2003 Convention, 250 individuals, including community leaders, Government officials, non-governmental organisations, practitioners, media personnel, community researchers have been trained on this Convention,’’ he said.
He said Botswana also boasts four UNESCO accredited Intangible Cultural Heritage facilitators that support the strengthening of capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Masisi noted that all of this is work in progress, and Botswana will continue to do more in this regard, not only to support its communities in safeguarding their cultures, but also by working with other countries and nations near and far, to also achieve this objective through the UNESCO platform.
In addition to capacitate personnel on the implementation of Convention 2003, Masisi said that Botswana has thus far been able to successfully inscribe three elements that now form part of the UNESCO List needing Urgent Safeguarding.
He stated that these include Earthenware Pottery Making Skills and Dikopelo Folk Music of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, which were inscribed in 2012 and 2017 respectively, the third element, being the Seperu Folk-dance and Associated Practices from the Chobe District which was inscribed under UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List in 2019.
For his part, Assistant Director General of Culture for UNESCO Ernesto Ottone said that cultural heritage and preservation is an important component of sustainable development goals. He said that the 18.COM is a platform for communities to make deliberations on cultural preservations and also gives committee members the opportunity to review bid books, propose operational directives and to elect new committee members for the evaluation board.