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Building peace and social cohesion through documenting the living cultural heritage of South Sudan’s diverse ethnic communities

Ten South Sudanese participants in a two-week UNESCO workshop in Juba are being trained to lead community-based inventories and produce digital archives of the expressions and practices, knowledge and skills of the diverse ethnic groups in South Sudan as part of an effort to safeguard the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Following South Sudan’s ratification of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016, UNESCO is supporting the country with efforts to train national experts in safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage through carrying-out community-based inventories. Mr. Lovemore Mazibuko, a UNESCO trained expert in the 2003 Convention, is leading the workshop, which is being held from 3 to 12 May 2018 in Juba, South Sudan.


Participants in the workshop range from national authorities responsible for Culture in South Sudan to NGOs, foundations and community activists. The workshop is funded and organized by UNESCO Office in Juba in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports in South Sudan.


Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is defined as expressions, representations, practices, knowledge and skills as well as their associated instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, recognize as part of their cultural heritage. ICH is living, transmitted from generation to generation and constantly recreated. It is crucial for the sense of identity and continuity of communities and groups, and is in conformity with human rights and sustainable development.


During the workshop, participants are learning procedures and techniques for inventorying elements of intangible cultural heritage ranging from oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and events, traditional craftsmanship to knowledge about nature and the universe.


“This workshop is a first step towards mobilizing communities across South Sudan in coming together to identify the diverse characteristics that make up our cultural identities and together form our nation’s cultural heritage,” said Mr. Edward Jubara, Director of Archives and Antiquities at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, and national focal point for the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


“UNESCO is confident that the participatory process of inventorying South Sudan’s intangible cultural heritage can provide a platform for intercultural dialogue and peace building,” said Sardar Umar Alam, Head of the UNESCO Office in Juba.


The participants in the workshop are being exposed to both theoretical and practical exercises in implementing the ICH Convention in South Sudan. Sessions range from understanding the various domains of ICH to the role of ICH in society, threats to ICH and safeguarding measures. During the workshop, the UNESCO inventory format will be aligned with the registration format of the South Sudan National Archives in order to ensure the inclusion of the inventory of ICH in the national archives.


“Through participating in this workshop, I am preparing myself to be an ambassador for intangible cultural heritage in South Sudan”, said Frazer Kenyi, Director of Culture.


For more information on the UNESCO 2003 Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: