Tuesday 22nd May, 2012
UNESCO – 2 United Nations Plaza, NYC
We met with the UNESCO Liaison Officer, Lily Valtchanova, in New York today because we are planning to travel through a couple of their World Heritage Sites, whilst we are on our expedition on the River Gambia. We talked about how we could perhaps either collaborate or contribute, with images/written pieces, and also about other projects that they are involved in; which could fit in with what we are doing – and, definitely, where we are going. Lily told us about their ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage‘ project – ‘practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and know-how that groups, communities and individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage…passed down from generation to generation, and providing a sense of identity and continuity, in their intangible cultural heritage.‘ It could be dancing, story-telling, art, social practices, rituals or festive events.
This ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage‘ particularly interests us because, on the last expedition (our 930km walk through The Gambia, West Africa), we heard and collected a number of ‘oral histories’ from chiefs, elders and villagers alike – stories that aren’t written, yet they are a rich, and vital part of The Gambia’s culture and heritage – passed on from one generation to the next.
Lily is now in the process of gathering various useful contacts for us. She also advised us to visit UNESCO’s main headquarters in Paris, which we hope to do now that we are on the other side of the Atlantic, here in London. Do we really need an excuse to hop over the English Channel to spend a few days in one of the leading cultural capital’s of the world? I think not…
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H & Flo
P.S. Check out Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal on the UNESCO website. We pass through the the park, for about 200km of our journey. We’ve also heard that there are around 6000 hippo’s in the park! If any of you, out there, have any tips on how to avoid pee-ing off hippo’s, we’d be more than grateful to hear them!