EDITORIAL: Every bit of cultural heritage must have a place in the future

Have you ever gnashed your teeth and choked on pangs of regret at seeing a picture of an item you once took for granted but can no longer see because they are past their shelf life?

Have you ever gnashed your teeth and choked on pangs of regret at seeing a picture of an item you once took for granted but can no longer see because they are past their shelf life?

It could be one of those combs with wooden handle, a metallic ironing box (for those living only in towns now), a cassette, floppy disk, phonograph player and its vinyl, among others.

But there is no doubt the pain would be worse if the item your nostalgia is driving you to is something with cultural attachment to your own heritage, something you once proudly owned.

A workshop on nature and culture conservation, organised by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, on Tuesday, noted that there is an increase in cultural heritage loss caused by criminal acts such as vandalism, socio-economic development projects, influence of Western cultures, scarcity of resources allocated to cultural heritage conservation, among others.

To check this, experts have called for more community involvement in preservation of natural and cultural heritage. 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 heritage such as songs, poems, historical myths (folklore) are well preserved.

As the world evolves and new and more sophisticated items are developed, these technological items tend to overshadow the old. Worse affected are cultural items. Thus, music instruments like inanga, amakondera, umuduli, among others, might find their usefulness slowly being watered down. Fifty or so years from today, many a child growing in urban places might not know of any of these instruments.

But these things are the root of our identity; they determine who we are and how we live or lived.

Because of the nature of heritage, every single individual is expected to play their part in preserving any bit of aspects and items that ultimately will provide the future with perspectives, harmony and pride.

Communities across the world are fast losing identity due to cultural erosion but there are things that make heritage that the Rwandan community cannot afford to lose. Continued concerted and deliberate efforts are therefore needed to preserve many of aspects of the Rwandan culture and heritage.

 

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