Nama traditional music gains UNESCO recognition

Niël Terblanché

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Namibia National Commission for UNESCO and supported by UNESCO, is set to unveil a mobile exhibition for the ‘Aixan !Gana !Ob #ns tsi llkhasigu,’ also known as the ‘ancestral musical sound, knowledge, and skills’ project, focused on Nama traditional music.

This cultural treasure has deep roots within the Nama communities, serving as a conduit for knowledge and a source of community entertainment.

Recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) element in urgent need of safeguarding in December 2020, Namibia sought international support to ensure the continuity of Nama traditional music for future generations.

The project has gained momentum at the community level and is built upon two key safeguarding strategies: awareness-raising and training. The primary goal is to attract young enthusiasts and provide local youth with training opportunities.

Safeguarding efforts encompass the creation of awareness and educational materials to instil community consciousness about the importance of preserving this cultural gem.

Generating awareness is crucial to securing the element’s viability and promoting its transmission to future generations.

To mark this significant milestone, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, together with the Namibia National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO’s support, will officially launch the mobile exhibition.

The launch ceremony will be held in Utuseb, one of the participating communities, inhabited by the Topnaar people along the Kuiseb River in the Erongo Region.

The project aims to enhance opportunities for community members to share their traditional knowledge and explore sustainable ways to safeguard this unique cultural treasure.

In the spirit of promoting greater awareness of Nama traditional music and Intangible Cultural Heritage in general, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture invites the media to attend and provide comprehensive coverage of the event.

This initiative ensures a wider audience can join the celebration, even if they cannot attend in person.

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