2006-2009: Japan finances the project "Safeguarding of the Kankurang, Manding Initiatory Rite (Senegal and Gambia)"



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UNESCO has started to implement the Project entitled “ Safeguarding of the Kankurang, Manding Initiatory Rite” in Senegal and Gambia . 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:


The Kankurang is an initiatory rite practiced in Senegal and Gambia, in the Manding provinces. The central figure of the Kankurang is a protective spirit, impersonated by a masked man (an initiate). This spirit is the protector of both order and justice, and the exorcist of evil spirits. The ritual has several stages which give young boys of Manding cultural space the opportunity to learn about important issues such as the rules of their community, medicinal plants, hunting techniques, etc. One of the major aspects of this ritual is a retreat in the forest and this practice is threatened by urbanization and deforestation, and the Kankurang ritual tends to become standardized.


The objective of this thirty-month project (November 2006 – April 2009) is to set up structures which will allow ensuring the safeguarding of this cultural expression.


Activities foreseen :


The project's activities include:


- the creation of centres in Kankurang areas and establishment of management structures and


-documentation and production of promotional materials


- the classification of sacred forest.


This project will particularly focus on the preservation of the natural environment in which the Kankurang ritual is practiced. For instance, the classification of sacred forest activities will include training in management of classified forest and planting of trees.





UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage .


Masterpieces proclaimed in 2005 - The Kankurang, Manding Initiatory Rite


人類の口承及び無形遺産の傑作の宣言 (2005年)


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