The administration of Central region held a two-day seminar on cultural heritage under the theme ‘Preserving cultural heritage through cooperative administration.’ The seminar, which was attended by artists, engineers and individuals interested in culture who come from various ministries, aimed to explore the importance of cultural identity, development of societies, cultural heritage and values and norms of our society.
The papers presented at the seminar, which was held on the 13th and 14th of January, were based on analyses of Eritrea’s capacity in preserving its cultural heritage, the importance of preserving cultural heritage, the current state of Eritrea’s cultural heritage and plans to maintain the cultural heritage.
The papers presented at the seminar covered ‘the importance of culture and tradition,’ ‘Ways of preserving culture,’ ‘Cultural inheritances and ways to maintain them,’ ‘2003’s UNESCO contract and the importance of Tigre oral poetry in society,’ ‘international Asmara heritage,’ ‘Guidance and administering cultural heritage,’ and ‘the importance of institutional culture.’
In his opening address following artistic performances of the nine Eritrean ethnic groups, Mr. Endrias Asmerom, director general of the Department of Culture and Sport of Central region, said the aim of the seminar was to explore and analyze our monuments and antique objects that are the pride of our society. In a cooperative way, he said, we should all be responsible to maintain the safety and longevity of our culture, traditions and history. It’s also a duty of every person to pass down the knowledge to the younger and upcoming generations. As a nation, we need to fully understand what culture is, how to adopt it and how to preserve it. Mr. Endrias added that “as culture plays an essential role in strengthening national identity, it must be taken care of and preserved for posterity.”
Dr. Senait Bahta, an anthropologist and assistant director of the Bureau of Standard Evaluation of Higher Education, said in her presentation that culture is a meaningful human identity that differentiates human beings from animals. The innovations and creations we have come across in our lives since the very beginning of our existence is what makes us unique. Culture is something that people develop based on their unique resources and natural gifts to cope with their environments. With time this small practices and ways turn into culture that a specific society follows. Culture can be divided into tangible and intangible. The intangible covers the norms and values that a society follows such as rituals, ceremonies and festivals. And the tangible include monuments, places, and historical sites.
Dr. Senait’s presentation ended with a slide show expressing the nine Eritrean ethnic groups’ innovations of survival strategies against social and environmental problems, dances and musical instruments, etc. that are now all parts of the cultural identities of the nine ethnic groups.
Mr. Solomon Tsehaye, who does research on Culture, gave a presentation on how religion, writings (myth, legendary, genealogy, songs, and poems) and parts of indigenous knowledge evolved. He said the rules and regulations that we follow today, the art that represents us are part of the culture we cherish. At the end of his presentation, Mr. Solomon suggested that the deliberations of the seminar be compiled in the form of a book that can serve as a reference. He also expressed his wish to see the wisdom he witnessed at the seminar be practiced on the ground. He called on the participants of the seminar to work together and show the world the Eritrean culture and history and fight against biased views toward Eritrea.
Mr. Mohad Suleman gave a presentation on UNESCO’s contract, which has over 176 members, that Eritrea signed in 2010 and its implications for Eritrea. UNESCO helps nations identify, record and maintain intangible cultural heritage, get international recognition for the individual nation’s heritage, and create the ground for a worldwide support. Being a signatory to the contract helps Eritrea to exchange information and experiences with the rest of the world, get international recognition and support for cultural maintenance projects and programs.
Participants of the seminar applauded the efforts made to enlighten people about the importance of our culture and identity and called on all concerned to organize awareness raising programs periodically and work to preserve our cultural heritage. At the end of the seminar, Mr. Endrias, after thanking the paper presenters, seminar organizers and the participants as a whole, called on everyone to pay more attention to our historic and cultural heritages.