Protecting and Promoting Cultural Practices
ccording to the United Naons
S c i e n c a n d C u l t u r a l
Organizaon (UNESCO), the
Isuku dance as well as the Tradions and
pracces associated with the Kayas in the
sacred forests of the Mijikenda form part of
the Intangible Cultural Heritage in urgent
need of safeguarding.
The two acvies are among the
Tradional Knowledge and Tradional
Cultural Expressions that the Protecon of
Tradional Knowledge and Cultural
Expressions Act (No. 33 of 2016) seeks to
protect. The fact that UNESCO has classified
them among the cultural pracces that are
threatened with “exncon” means that
the relevant bodies/organizaons and
agencies need to move with speed to
ensure they are protected and preserved.
There are a number of bodies charged
with the protecon and promoon of
cultural acvies and they include: The
D e p ar t me nt of C u l t u r e (D OC ) , a
department in the Ministry of Sports,
Cu l t ure a n d th e Ar t s wh i c h is th e
competent body for intangible cultural
heritage. It safeguards and collaborates
with the Naonal Museums of Kenya
(NMK) (through its Co a stal Forest
Conservaon Unit) and with the Kenya
Naonal Commission for UNESCO. The
Department also works with certain
UNESCO-accredited non-governmental
organizaons to safeguard intangible
cultural heritage at the local level, namely
the African Cultural Regeneraon Instute
( A C R I ) , t h e Cu l t u ra l I n i a v e f o r
Biodiversity Conservaon (CIBC), and
Maasai Cultural Heritage (MCH).
The Kenya Copyright Board, then joins
the list of these organizaons as it is
mandated to establish and maintain a
repository of all Tradional Knowledge and
Cultural Expressions in the country. This is
provided for in secon 5 of the Kenya
Copyright Act. The Kenya Copyright Board is
expected to work with the county
governments in establishing the repository.
So far, there are dra regulaons
providing for the establishment of the
By Faith Amaka
repository whereby owners/holders of
tradional knowledge and tradional
cultural expressions are required to
re g i ster t he ir kn ow l ed ge/cu lt u ral
expression with the relevant county
department/office responsible for culture
aer which the county forwards the
register to the Kenya Copyright Board for
record purposes.
In addion to having a repository, the
draregulaons also provide for cultural
days to be held in each county where
holders of different cultural acvies take
the opportunity to showcase their cultural
pracces and awards given to the best
depending on the category.
Kenya can borrow a leaf from Burkina
Faso, which has, aer six years, concluded
the documentaon of about 1,300 living
tradions with financial assistance from
the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.
T h e w r i t e r a c k n o w l e d g e s t h e
Intangible Cultural Heritage Website for
most of the informaon here.
Youth performing Isukuti dance at a training session ©Department of Culture 2013