Youth in the Driver's Seat: Changing the Face of Heritage and Conservation in Africa
ICCROM Africa Expert Meeting for Cultural Heritage Conservation, Egyptian Academy in Rome, 9 – 11 January 2019
On 9 – 11 January 2019, a planning meeting for ICCROM’s new Africa programme will be held at the Egyptian Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Fifteen professionals from 15 institutions are meeting to discuss how best to design an impactful programme to support youth and its engagement in heritage in the African region.
“Youth are the future managers and conservators of our heritage,” commented Dr Webber Ndoro, ICCROM’s Director-General, on the occasion. “For me it’s essential to engage youth at the planning stage of the proposed programme.”
Dr Gihane Zaki, Director of the Egyptian Academy in Rome, commented for her part:
“The Egyptian Academy is very pleased to host this meeting. I look forward to a regional ICCROM programme that embraces the whole African continent.”
In Africa as elsewhere in the world, new challenges are emerging, driven by rapid urbanization, climate change and demographic shifts. Africa has an extremely young age distribution, with 59% of its population under 25 years of age (source https://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/PublicationFiles/demographic_…). Young people in Africa learn through formal school-based education and/or informal street education, which has largely supplanted the traditional learning systems of their own cultures. They have also grown up with the tools of the digital age literally at their fingertips. Most make their living in the informal sector, and rarely see the conservation of cultural heritage as an opportunity for meaningful engagement.
How can a new strategy engage young people, and how will they benefit? Are heritage institutions such as museums ready and willing to involve them in their work? How can heritage professionals and decision-makers create the conditions for young people to take ownership of their cultural heritage, and by appreciating heritage to participate and contribute meaningfully to society?
The Africa Expert Meeting takes inspiration from the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and from the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 “The Africa We Want” which is committed to realizing Africa’s full potential in development, culture and peace. The Expert Meeting will discuss and debate how ICCROM’s new programme can visibly contribute to economic development, employment and social cohesion on the continent.
The new programme will pioneer new approaches and strategies, even as it is grounded in ICCROM’s past international experience in training and capacity building for cultural heritage conservation. In particular, the programme will strengthen collaboration between institutions and civil society, engage dialogue and debate on the identification and significance of cultural heritage in the light of the growing decolonization discourse, and review the role of museums in today’s Africa rapidly urbanizing context. The programme will also promote intergenerational exchange by considering the ingenuity and innovation that young persons can bring, while learning from the experience and wisdom of older generations.
In keeping with African Union recommendations, the proposed programme will cover the geographical area of the entire African continent, aiming at establishing a wide and vibrant network of people and institutions.
The African Union, the Africa World Heritage Fund and UNESCO World Heritage Centre are involved in this meeting, along with the following institutions from within and outside the region:
- Art Jamel Foundation, Saudi Arabia
- Better Life Initiative (BLI), Cameroon
- Centre national du patrimoine rupestre, Morocco
- Ecole du Patrimoine Africain, Benin
- Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, Egypt
- Eswatini National Archives, Swaziland
- Google Arts & Culture
- International Scientific Committee for Earthen Architectural Heritage (ICOMOS-ISCEAH)
- Iziko Museum, South Africa
- Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Tanzania
- National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
Member States represented: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania.
The Africa Expert Meeting is being held at the Egyptian Academy in Rome, by gracious invitation of its Director, Dr Gihane Zaki, also an ICCROM Council Member. The Egyptian Academy is the only fine arts academy in Rome that represents both Africa and the Arab States, and thus is a committed stakeholder in a successful Africa strategy at ICCROM.
ICCROM is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage worldwide. It works with 136 Member States to ensure the best tools, knowledge, skills and enabling environment to preserve cultural heritage in all its forms, for the benefit of all people. www.iccrom.org
About the Egyptian Academy in Rome
The Egyptian Academy of Fine Arts in Rome is Egypt’s premiere cultural institution in Italy. It hosts Egyptian art students for study in Rome, while promoting Egyptian culture beyond its borders to a European and international public. https://www.accademiaegitto.org/
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