Ethiopian Culture Showcased at UN Committee meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage

Ethiopia introduced on Sunday (November 28) its cultural performances showcasing the rich and unique traditions and cultural heritages ahead of the eleventh session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Addis Ababa. Over 300 artists and performers partook at the display of   the country's intangible cultural heritage.

President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, speaking at the opening ceremony, pointed to Ethiopia as the Africa's oldest independent country, saying "more than 80 nations with distinct cultural traditions and values live here and speak more than 80 different languages." The five-day meeting, from November 28 to December 2, which brought together close to 650 delegates, dwells on traditional songs, rituals, celebrations and know-how; and aims to examine five nominations for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Getachew Engida described the "tremendous advances," achieved since the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage entered into force, as a picture of "peace, diversity and inclusion." The Deputy Director-General noted that UNESCO attaches greater importance on strengthening human and institutional capacities at the country level through the capacity-building strategy adopted by the Committee, which has been implemented in more than 70 countries, in order to support member states, adding that UNESCO values the importance of policy support, "to ensure that sufficient attention is paid to intangible cultural heritage in national development plans."

The Chairperson of UNESCO's Executive Board, Michael Worbs, who said that the Committee was meeting in Africa for the fourth time since its creation in 2006, noted that this was indicative of "the central importance that intangible cultural heritage has for Africa as a whole," and the priority of Africa in UNESCO's actions.

According to UNESCO, the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which currently features 43 particularly vulnerable elements of the living heritage, helps States Parties to the Convention to rally international cooperation and assistance to maintain cultural practices with the agreement of the communities concerned.  Among other elements, representatives of 24 States Parties to the Convention will examine the Cossack's songs of Dnipropetrovsk Region in Ukraine; Chapei Dang Veng in Cambodia; and Ma'di bowl lyre music and dance in Uganda. UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as "traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants," including oral traditions, rituals and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Ethiopia has been a member of and has collaborated with UNESCO since 1955.