World Heritage Day: Protection, Promotion Of African Culture Take Centerstage As UNESCO Celebrates

by Olamilekan Okeowo

The UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in partnership with UNESCO National Commissions in the region and the African World Heritage Fund has launched an open competition for youth, aged 18 to 35 years.

This is in celebration of the African World Heritage Day which held on 5 May 2021, and in the framework of the African Union Year 2021 for “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building The Africa We Want”

The competition is open in all 13 countries covered by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa namely Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda to develop a project proposal for raising awareness and engagement of youth in the protection and promotion of African World Heritage.

Proposals are being welcomed till the end of this month and are expected to focus on raising awareness and/or engagement among youth for one World Heritage sites in Africa, all World Heritage sites in a specific country or the Eastern Africa region, or may also focus on the entire Africa region. Proposals may also focus on Tentative List sites or the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention.
All proposals must include a detailed budget breakdown indicating the estimated costs for all activities in USD for a total amount up to 5000 USD. The proposed activity(-ies) must be feasible to be carried out between 1 July and 15 November 2021.  All proposed activities must respect national and World Health Organization (WHO) health guidelines and prevention measures for the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as national security and legal guidelines. Moreover, all proposals must respect human rights and promote respect for cultural diversity.

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Recall that in 2015, May 5 was proclaimed African World Heritage Day by the 38th session of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

As such, the African Union (AU) declared 2021 as the “AU Year of the Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.

In celebration of the day this year, UNESCO — in collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and their partners organised a series of events across the continent.

Events such as virtual concerts, webinars, and the annual youth forum took place to highlight the resilience, opportunities, and wealth to be gained from African heritage — as well as explore forward-moving solutions to see Africa thrive within an ever more digital global landscape.

UNESCO also organized a live concert on Instagram that featured performances by artists from across the continent to share Africa’s resilience with the world and celebrate its exceptional culture.

This initiative aimed at raising young people’s awareness of the African Union’s theme for 2021 through the use of digital technologies and social networks, further engage Africans in the promotion and transmission of World Heritage in Africa, support and promote African artists at the international level and increase the international visibility of African Heritage and the vibrancy of its culture.

The live performances started at 15h (CET) on May 5 and ran throughout the day and culminated with a musical session at 19h (CET).

It featured a Poetry reading session by Eileen Almeida Barbosa, a musical performance by Dela Botri, and an Illustration performance by Zakaria Gnaoui while DJ Jeunelio thrilled the virtual audience.

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