UNESCO has started to implement the Project entitled “Safeguarding of the Gule Wamkulu – the Great Dance of the Chewa People”. The Gule Wamkulu is a ritual dance practised among the Chuwa in Malawi , Mozambique , and Zambia . It is said to date back to the seventeenth century. This cultural expression was proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.
This Project is financed under the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage .
Context and Objectives of the project:
Gule Wamkulu, or Great Dance, was a secret cult of the Chewa people, in south-east Africa, consisting in masked dances performed at initiation ceremonies, weddings, funerals, etc.
Although new forms of dance style and characters have appeared and show the dynamism and creativity of the Gule Wamkulu, it appears that the entertainment function is taking over its traditional religious and social function and that performances in traditional settings are fading away, due to modernization, urbanization as well as the passing away of experienced practitioners.
Therefore, this twenty-eight-month Project (December 2006 – March 2009) will help to ensure the transmission of knowledge, values and skills of the Gule Wamkulu and to raise awareness of the common cultural identity embodied in the Great Dance.
The project's activities include:
- Training and Capacity-building: organization of workshops (training of trainers' workshop, training workshop for young initiates, drafting of a syllabus)
- Awareness-raising activities (production of promotional materials such as leaflets, radio and television programmes, etc.)
- Research, documentation, filing and publications (compilation of an inventory of practising communities, creation of websites, databank, etc.)
- Legal Protection (intellectual property rights, legal protection of intangible heritage, guidelines for the practice…)
- Community involvement and monitoring (setting up of a monitoring system, continuous exchange among practitioners, etc.)
Thank to this Project, the people, especially the young people, will be given the opportunity to learn about and understand the Gule Wamkulu, and through exchange and networking, the safeguarding of this cultural expression will be ensured.
Copyright : 2013 Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO