The Intangible Cultural Heritages of Ethiopia
Intangible cultural heritage exists all over the world. Most examples are to be found as scripts, while there are yet more, unrecognized by UNESCO. Intangible heritage can be considered as the distinctive identity of a nation.
The 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage was held in Addis Ababa on the 28th November to 2nd December, 2016. The committee primarily looked at requests made by member states for the inscription of intangible cultural heritage, and it also decided on future international grant assistance.
In the Ethiopian context, Meskel Demera, the commemoration feast of the finding of the true holy cross of Christ, on the 27th September and Fichee-Chambalaalla, the new year festival of the Sidama people, in August, have both been in scripted by UNESCO and the ICH, in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The Gada System, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo people, has been nominated to be in scripted by UNESCO and the ICH for 2016. According to reports, the inscription has been accepted by the Committee, and recognized as a world intangible cultural heritage.
The Gada System consists of a well-structured hierarchy of authority much like modern governmental bodies being made up of legislative, executive, and judicial, pillars. Each Gada party will run for an eight year term and will be succeeded by the next eligible Gada party. This system can be regarded as one of the ancient Ethiopian practices, a form of democracy based on long tradition.
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