UNESCO, in close collaboration with National Museums of Kenya (NMK), has been supporting the tangible and intangible cultural heritage initiatives, allowing people to appreciate and respect their heritage attractions, not only as business and tourist destinations, but also as remembrance of their great architectural, aesthetic and historical importance.
For this reason, Kenya celebrated the first International Monuments and Sites Day, marked by the official opening of the Nairobi Gallery which carries timeless collection of artifacts, jewelries, fabric designs and temporary art exhibition of African origin; and the launching of ”Historical Walking Tours” in Nairobi’s central business district.
The historical walking tour was the highlight of the event where trained volunteer guides explained on the significance of various monuments and architecture contributing to historic Nairobi landscape. The guided tour is the one of the initiatives supported by UNESCO in view of enhancing knowledge of, and respect for, Kenya’s diverse heritage.
Hon. Anna Othoro, Minister of Tourism, Trade and Culture in the Nairobi County Government, described the event as an opportunity for Nairobi and its residents to ”open up to the world, not only for its beautiful natural landscape but also by appreciating the city’s rich historical and cultural assets.”
Dr. Ahmed Yassin, the Director General of the National Museum of Kenya, noted that ”heritage places in living landscape carries a memory of human experience” and how historical monuments to traditional practices and contemporary art forms enrich our everyday lives in countless ways.
Mr. Djelid Mohamed, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, addressed the challenges of ”balancing heritage conservation and social and economic development, given the impact and benefit of both to local communities.” He particularly highlighted on the important role that local governments and the media have in the promotion of heritage tourism together with its protection having “responsibility not just to report on negative stories of the City but to contribute to the promotion of knowledge that are much needed for the City of Nairobi and Kenya as a whole.”
UNESCO advocates culture, essential to sustainable development because of the resources it embodies for individuals and communities as a source of innovation and creativity. Culture-led development not only harnesses entrepreneurship in the areas of cultural and creative industry, sustainable tourism and cultural infrastructure that bring substantial revenues, but also cultivates greater social inclusiveness and resilience for individuals and communities. To unleash the transformative power of culture, UNESCO, in close collaboration with National Museums of Kenya and Nairobi County Government, supports local ownership in view to integrate culture into national policies and legal framework to safeguard heritage.