Documenting Living Heritage: 12 Photographers in Kenya (2010)

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Photographic documentation of Intangible Heritage in Kenya[edit]

This initiative was organized, firstly, to raise awareness through photography about the importance of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, and secondly, to strengthen the capacity of professional photographers by exploring different approaches to documenting intangible cultural heritage. It was the result of a capacity building exercise held in Kenya, thanks to a fruitful collaboration of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Section, with the Permanent Delegation of Kenya to UNESCO and the Japanese Government. In fact, the project was financed by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust as part of the partnership with UNESCO and the Kenya Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture. The images document social practices, knowledge and skills related to aspects of the intangible heritage of Kenyans living in Nairobi and Kakamega.

Distinct in every detail, these photographs remind us of the importance of safeguarding humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. In the words of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, “No culture stands alone. Our intangible cultural expressions find meaning in their relation to those of other peoples. The power of these photographs are clear in their ability to remind us of everything that we share. Culture is a force for dialogue, exchange and understanding between peoples. Culture is also a force for development. It provides the prism through which we understand the world and the tools by which we shape our environment. Sustainable development can only be achieved if cultural contexts are taken into account”.