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Wednesday, December 26

A Global Initiative for Safeguarding the Garifuna Culture By José Francisco Ávila

   
On the last article, I quoted Roy Cayetano, who commented “The question is: whose responsibility is it to implement the action plan proposed in the candidature file or indeed any other plan aimed at safeguarding and promoting those elements of our heritage?” Well continuing my research on why the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance has stalled, I went straight to the source, the UNESCO website on Intangible Heritage and here’s what I found.


According to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, intangible cultural heritage can only be heritage when it is recognized as such by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and transmit it – without their recognition, nobody else can decide for them that a given expression or practice is their heritage. Sustainable safeguarding cannot be detached from the communities and individuals that recognize specific intangible expressions as part of their cultural heritage and identity. [1]Furthermore, it states the need to build greater awareness, especially among the younger generations, of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage and of its safeguarding.

“Safeguarding” means measures aimed at ensuring the viability of the intangible cultural heritage, including the identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education, as well as the revitalization of the various aspects of such heritage. Therefore, it is up to us the Garifuna People to implement the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance!

The safeguarding project focuses mainly in the preservation of the Garifuna language through language revitalization, lexical expansion programs and the promotion of teaching, learning and practicing. It will also develop an inventory of Garifuna art forms (such as songs, music, dances and related customs etc.) and promote regional Garifuna festivals with a view to confronting the erosion of the Garifuna culture in the heart of modern day communities. As a general objective, the project seeks to strengthen the capacities of the Garifuna communities in order to promote the safeguarding of its heritage. [2]

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, I  invite the Garifuna Diaspora to conduct an initial assessment and identify the main challenges, constraints and opportunities related to the implementation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention through a  Global Garifuna
Initiative.  

The  Global Garifuna Initiative will convene Garifuna leaders from around the Diaspora who create, maintain and transmit Garifuna Oral and Intangible Heritage and Cultural Expressions, and involve them actively in the management of the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance. The  Global Garifuna Initiative will facilitate action by helping members connect, collaborate, and make effective and measurable Commitments to Action. Spurred by a collective sense of urgency and shared responsibility for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance. Among the expected results, is a participative diagnosis about the existing conditions for the generalization of politics, programs, and projects of strengthening of the Garifuna Culture and a project proposal for a concrete and sustainable follow up of the Proclamation of Garifuna language, dance and music as "Masterpieces of Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity", agreed upon by the participants.

Furthermore, the Global Garifuna Initiative members will advocate for the protection and promotion of the Diversity of the Garifuna Cultural Expressions for the benefit of present and future generations  and will participate in consultations with public authorities of the Garifuna Diaspora on the development of cultural policies and measures to implement Article 6 and Article 7 of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The term “Cultural expressions” refers to the various ways in which the creativity of individuals and social groups takes shape and manifests itself. These manifestations include expressions transmitted by words (literature, tales…), sound (music…), images (photos, films…) in any format (printed, audiovisual, digital etc.) or by activities (dance, theatre…) or objects (sculptures, paintings…).

Sustainable safeguarding cannot be detached from the communities and individuals that recognize specific intangible expressions as part of their cultural heritage and identity. Therefore, it is up to us the Garifuna People to implement the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance, as well as  the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Garifuna Expressions. Spurred by a collective sense of urgency and shared responsibility for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Culture, the Global  Garifuna Initiative will facilitate action by helping members connect, collaborate, and make effective and measurable Commitments to Action

[1]www,unesco.org What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?
[2] www,unesco.org Belize - Information related to Intangible Cultural Heritage

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