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UNESCO, REPERID Promote Cultural Values 

By Chris Mbunwe — UNESCO, in collaboration with Research Centre For Peace, Human Rights and Development – REPERID, has begun promoting Cameroon’s rich cultural values through decentralisation in councils.

In this light, a series of workshops have been programmed across the Northwest Region under the theme, “Decentralisation, the diversity of cultural expression and council policies; a new paradigm for council development strategies in Cameroon”. Presiding at the first of such seminars at Bamenda II Council, Northwest Delegate of Culture, Mrs. Ernestine Lukong Thomla, laid emphasis on the devolution of powers relating to culture found in the 2004 decentralisation laws.

She harped on decree No 2010/0245/PM of 26th February 2010 implementing the law on the modalities for the transfer of certain competencies in the area of culture to councils and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
The Delegate expressed gratitude to UNESCO for assisting REPERID to realise its objectives, which will go a long way to fighting poverty in villages that have these cultural values but are not aware of how much development it can bring to them.

Due to the fact that there are multiple factors, the most common of which is lack of awareness of the now legal instruments, institutional capacity gaps and the failure to include and involve different cultural actors and stakeholders in policy formulation and implementation at a local level, the Coordinator of REPERID, Justice Peter Mbuagbaw, said the project intends to meet these challenges through awareness raising, capacity building and stakeholder identification and involvement. “The first method we are going to use is to provoke a general sense of awareness and consciousness in the population in general,” he said.

Justice Mbuagbaw outlined some of the objectives of the project to include; creation of public consciousness on capitalisation of culture and cultural policies for councils, enhance the capacity of councils and cultural actors to understand and exploit new national and international legal instruments relating to culture, cause councils to include cultural policies in the formation and implementation of their development policies, identify and protect cultural sites and create a network of cultural actors in Cameroon.

The host Mayor, Fidelis Balick Awah of Bamenda II Council, promised to work with REPERID to realise development projects by identifying and promoting the cultural values of all the villages in the subdivision. The workshop brought together presidents of development and cultural organisations, traditional authorities and musicians of the Northwest. Cameroon is endowed with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, which is yet to be translated into policies that will engender development.

First published in the Post print edition no 01419