Adapted from a report by John de Koninck, INTO Africa Chair
INTO members and potential future members from across Africa attended a four day programme in Nairobi this February, taking place at the National Museum of Kenya. Days one and two were an opportunity for attendees to take part in the Culture Grows programming and get some networking done, thanks to a partnership with the British Council. Days three and four explored themes of common interest for INTO’s African membership.
Delegates spent a busy two days at a wider event organised by the British Council, discussing heritage work in the African context and meeting colleagues from across the region. The event was particularly well attended by the artistic community of Nairobi, re-imagining their heritage for a modern audience with British Council support.
The INTO regional meeting itself brought together 22 people, representing eight countries (Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, the UK, the Seychelles, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Uganda) and two international organisations (ICCROM and UNESCO). Of these, the Zimbabwe National Trust, the Zanzibar Stone Town Society, Heritage Watch Ethiopia and the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) are already members of INTO.
The conference began with a focus on success stories, and representatives of the heritage trusts and INGOs shared their positive experiences. We heard of youth craft development work in Zimbabwe and Zanzibar, and the challenges of too many and too few tourists. In Uganda, CCFU presented work bordering natural and cultural conservation, as well as cultural rights, while the Nigerian delegates discussed the repurposing of old buildings in Lagos, ensuring their economic viability in the vibrant and rapidly developing city.
From Bookbunk, we heard of efforts to restore Nairobi’s colonial libraries and re-imagine their purpose for young Kenyans. The Seychelles Heritage Foundation shared their work, describing four sites across the archipelago and their statutory role in protecting and promoting them. Finally, the newest INTO member Heritage Watch Ethiopia talked about the urgent mission to survey the heritage buildings of Addis Ababa.
Panel discussions and presentations discussed the financing of heritage organisations in Africa and the different models open to heritage trusts in Africa. Led by INTO’s Specialist Adviser Oliver Maurice, this session produced a number of conclusions to guide prospective work in Africa:
Day two of the conference began with a presentation from ICCROM’s Rim Kelouze on new project work planned for Africa. The group then heard about what INTO membership entails from Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Lamont Bishop, before a facilitated discussed on how the group can best engage with INTO. It was decided to aim to:
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