How can we involve African youth in heritage?
Connect and inspire African youth with the possibilities of their rich heritage.
Use digital technologies to further heritage awareness and support creative industries.
Promote heritage as an economic asset, to address poverty and unemployment among young people.
These are just some of the potential directions discussed during ICCROM’s Africa Expert Meeting for Cultural Heritage Conservation, held at the Egyptian Academy in Rome from 9 – 11 January 2019.
Fifteen professionals from 15 institutions met to discuss how best to design an impactful programme to support youth and its engagement in heritage in the African region. The Africa Expert Meeting took inspiration from the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and particularly from the development goals for sustainable cities and communities, gender equality, decent work and economic growth. Also invoked was the African Union’s Agenda 2063 “The Africa We Want,” which is committed to realizing Africa’s full potential in development, culture and peace.
“Africa has the youngest population of any continent,” said Dr Webber Ndoro, ICCROM’s Director-General. “Heritage can be for youth a source of livelihood, identity, and a stimulus for development. The input of youth needs to be clear for what our heritage is and how to take it forward.”
“It’s time to invest in young Africans,” said Dr Gihane Zaki, Director of the Egyptian Academy in Rome, which hosted the event. She noted Egypt’s upcoming presidency of the African Union in 2019, and stressed Egypt's keenness to support young people in the African continent. “It’s important also to remember and appreciate women’s pivotal role in African societies."
The three-day discussions led to definition of broad directions for a future Africa programme that aims to make African heritage attractive to young people on the continent, improving their involvement in its stewardship to ensure inclusive economic and social benefits to all generations. The proposed Africa programme, currently planned for 2020-2030, includes the following objectives:
- Sustain economic and social development through innovation and engagement of youth and women in heritage.
- Increase engagement and interest of youth and women in heritage through the adoption of a people-centred approach in conservation.
- Strengthen institutions as dynamic, innovative, reliable and attractive resources for communities, government and the private sector.
At the meeting's conclusion, Dr Ndoro thanked all the meeting participants for their contributions to the discussion, as well as the ambassadors and institutional representatives present. He extended particular thanks to the Egyptian Academy in Rome, and called on all ICCROM’s partner institutions and Member States, both in Africa and worldwide, to support this new initiative.
“It’s time to unlock the potential of heritage to provide a better life and livelihood to communities in Africa,” said Dr Ndoro. “Heritage is about now, about what is happening today. Youth must see the opportunities in heritage.”
VOICES FROM THE MEETING
Heritage is not a thing. Heritage is what we live with, use and reproduce in daily life.
Albino Jopela (Mozambique), African World Heritage Fund
It’s time for young Africans today to recognize the value of their African cultural heritage, to be proud of it, to understand it’s not just a question of the past but also the future, and that it can contribute to their development and pride as Africans.
Alyssa K. Barry (Senegal), Afreakart
Heritage has all that we need to make a life. Businesses can be generated from heritage, and we have a beautiful lifestyle that we can pass to the generations after us. And heritage is something we can use to resolve the various conflicts that are happening in our communities.
Benis Nchang (Cameroon), Better Life Initiative
Heritage is our identity. We are not talking about the future, because the future is the present and the present is you, the youth. And so you need to embrace, emulate and identify yourselves with what is ahead, the torch that we are passing to you from now, not in the future. It is your time now.
Edmond Moukala (UNESCO), World Heritage Centre
Engaging young visitors is quite a challenge. But once you involve them, they have a plethora of ideas, contributions, memories, stories, and they realize how dynamic their contributions are. The museum is not a static space, and they can have absolute fun!
Rooksana Omar (South Africa), Iziko Museums
Heritage is life. You must indulge in it, and never make an apology.
Shadreck Chirikure (Zimbabwe), University of Cape Town, South Africa
Interview with: Alyssa K. Barry
Interview with: Benis Nchang
Member States represented
Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.