Tuesday, 3 March 2020

FORUM FOCUSES ON GROWING CULTURAL APPRECIATION



By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 3 March 2020 for 6 March)

Twaweza Communications linked up with the British Council last week to conduct a two-day forum focusing on ‘Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth’.
Officially titled ‘Culture Grows: Between Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, the program was held at Nairobi National Museum in the Botanical Gardens, next to the Snake Park.
Spearheaded by Prof. Kimani Njogu, who’s the founder of Twaweza and co-founder with Joy Mboya, Managing Director of the GoDown Art Center of the Creative Economy Working Group, the CEWG had already been conducting inter-generational dialogues among Kenyans over the past two years. So the issue for Kenya’s past, present and future had already been one of Kimani’s central concerns.
As such, he could easily relate to the subject of ‘cultural heritage for inclusive growth’ which, coincidentally is the name of a pilot program that British Council has been running in three countries, namely Kenya, Vietnam and Columbia.
The forum was attended by cultural representatives from all three countries who are involved in projects that address various dimensions of cultural heritage, which was defined as not just related to past events and traditions, but also to contemporary cultural practices and future possibilities.
Other participants in the symposium came from the UK, Uganda and Somalia, many of whom were also concerned with ‘inclusive growth’. This meant that there was much discussion about how to ensure that positive aspects of indigenous and contemporary culture can be received by the youth.
Day One was opened by the forum’s MC , Mwihaki Muraguri who welcomed participants and also gave a brief historical background on the National Museum. She was followed by introductory remarks from Prof. Kimani and Jill Coates, current country director of British Council. Dr George Abungu, former director general of Kenya’s National Museums was given the hefty task of sharing a broad cultural context for appreciating the symposium’s topic as well as the challenges  ahead.
Over the two days, panels and plenaries explored issues ranging from partnerships between cultural heritage and technology to specific programs addressing aspects of cultural inclusion, especially those embracing the youth.
From Kenya that meant hearing from groups like Wajukuu Arts whose spokesman Ngugi Waweru explained how slum children are gaining appreciation of culture through Wajukuu’s focus on training them in the Arts.
During the symposium, participants were also taken to cultural projects that BC supports such as the Book Bunk, DreamKona in Uhuru Gardens and the Permanent Presidential Music Commission.

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