RWANDA MUSEUMS HOSTS THE FIRST EVER WORKSHOP ON NATURE AND CULTURE CONSERVATION
Natural and cultural heritage are a pillar of every country’s development, and therefore needs to be conserved. Experts in natural and cultural conservation have discovered that natural and cultural values have gradually deteriorated in the recent years due to various factors.
In response to the recent destruction of ancient treasures and historical sites in the world, Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London have so far organized two conference on “Culture in Crisis,” bringing together conservation and preservation experts, museum directors and curators, scholars, and representatives from ministries, national conservation authorities, foundations, and cultural consortiums from across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.
For the first time in Africa, this conference is anticipated to be held in Rwanda next year 2017, and Rwanda Museums was chosen to host a pre-workshop on nature and cultural conservation to prepare for this big conference on ‘culture in crisis’ which will be held for the 3rd but 1st time on the African continent.
This workshop on nature and culture conservation organized by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda in collaboration with the Yale University, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, was held from 30th to 31st August, 2016 at the Museum of Environment in Karongi District, Rwanda’s Western Province; and this saw participants from seven countries representing museums and other cultural institutions.
During the workshop, participants discussed ways to raise both public and political awareness and encourage specific actions to conserve cultural and natural heritage.
It was noted there is an increase in cultural heritage loss which is caused by criminal acts such as destruction of sites, socio-economic development projects, influence of western cultures, scarcity of resources allocated to cultural heritage conservation, among others.
The experts called for use of latest technologies, such as social media, to promote the preservation of nature, and more involvement of communities to ensure tangible and intangible heritage such as songs/dances, poems, fictions, artifacts, heritage sites, monuments, etc are well preserved.
According to Stefan Simon, Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University in the US, cultural heritage is “the root of our identity; it determines who we are and how we live”.
“I have learnt a lot about cultural heritage of Rwanda and Africa, how it links with nature and how it is important to always make sure that residents are profiting from their cultural heritage,” he said.
Johannes Vogel, the director of Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, said that the workshop was an opportunity to learn from each others’ experiences and from the experience will be drawn a concept about what should be discussed in the upcoming ‘culture in crisis’ conference.
“Rwanda has made major efforts to address the issues of conservation of nature and culture, creating institutions and political interests and the will to pursue this. People learn new ways of living together, bring different perspectives, culture, ideas together for a more harmonious and forward-looking society. We are keen to share and learn from that experience. European conservation institutions are more advanced. There are practices, ideas, technologies that we are willing to share,” he said.
During the workshop, Rwanda Museums and other local agencies’ representatives shared both local and regional potentials and challenges in nature and culture conservation whilst also highlighting some of the possible solutions that should be discussed in the conference.
Rwanda Museums believes that this conference will be a golden opportunity not only for Rwanda but also Africa at large to discuss and find solutions to most of the natural and cultural hazards faced by the global institutions in charge of nature and culture conservation.
The workshop was preceded by a visit to Buhanga Eco Park, a natural/cultural heritage site that is dedicated to King Gihanga who is believed to have formed Rwanda. It’s a very interesting site to visit.