Somalia valorizes local communities’ roles in inventorying intangible cultural heritage

Somali participants in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage workshop in Mogadishu, 11 October 2021 ©UNESCO/Karalyn Monteil

Over 30 participants returned to the Somalia Academy of Science and Arts (SOMASA) on 11 October 2021 for the second phase of a national awareness raising and capacity-building workshop for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Somalia, which started on 27 September 2021 and will run through 13 October 2021.

The hybrid workshop, organized by the UNESCO  Regional Office for Eastern Africa and SOMASA with support from the Somali Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education (MoECHE), is based on the UNESCO Capacity Building Programme for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. The workshop is being led by Ms. Emily Drani, a UNESCO Expert Facilitator for the 2003 Convention and co-founder of the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU). The 11 October workshop was officially opened by Mr. Abdulkadir Nor Hussein, Chairperson of SOMASA with opening remarks by Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, and moderated by Mr. Abdullrazak Kallinle, SOMASA advisor.

This workshop is one of the activities supported by the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNESCO and Somalia on 11 February 2020 to strengthen cooperation in the fields of education and culture. It follows Somalia’s ratification of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2020 as well as the development of Somalia’s first National Strategy for Culture in 2020-2021.
Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

The first part of the workshop last month focused on general awareness-raising on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention and safeguarding ICH in Somalia. This final phase of the workshop aims to raise awareness and capacities for community-based inventorying of ICH and applying for International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.

In her presentation on 11 October 2021, Ms. Emily Drani highlighted the importance of taking into account gender dynamics in the process of identification and inventorying of intangible cultural heritage in order to ensure the ICH elements are fully representative. She encouraged a dialogue on gender awareness among communities during the inventory process in order to avoid a gender bias among marginalized groups. Over the next two days, the workshop will also address ethics and technical aspects of interviewing communities, including audio recording, photography, participatory video and mapping.

For more information about UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, please visit: