‘African Heritage Sites Are Threatened’
African heritage sites are under threat, but they can be restored by effective trans-boundary cooperation.
Arinze Madeleine Ogechukwu, a Risk Management expert said this in a paper she presented at UNESCO Meeting on Trans-boundary Cooperation held recently in Cote D’ Ivoire.
According to her, there were 1.11 heritage sites in the world as at 2018, made up of 858 cultural, 212 natural and 41mixed, pointing out that 54 of the sites were in danger.
She said Africa had 17 or 44% of the world’s heritage sites in danger lists, out of which twelve natural, three cultural and two mixed.
The cultural sites she noted were more likely to be threatened by accidental damage or structural deterioration due to neglect, citing, the recent destruction of some famous mausoleums in the ancient Malian Town of Timbuktu, as example.
Arinze who is the Chief Consultant at the Information Literacy Consult (ILC) said natural sites are vulnerable during periods of unrest, adding that the current problems facing sites in Central African Republic, Cote D’ Ivoire, Congo, Ethiopia, Niger and Madagascar all began during periods of civil unrests.
She listed heritage sites that could face danger in Africa if not properly managed as follows: Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Kenya’s Lake System of the Great Rift Valley, Namibia’s Namib Sand Sea, South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region, Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, The Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mosi-oa Tunya/Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.
Add these to golden sand dunes, thundering falls, world’s population of giant tortoise, famous Rivers and Lake Like Zambezi, Limpopo, Lakes Victoria and Chad, the Trans-boundary Management Expert asserted that Africa’s heritage sites would encompass staggering beauty and diversity if African countries manage them through effective trans-boundary cooperation.
“And for this trans-boundary cooperation in African region to be effective, nations must be willing to share their resources candidly with other nations; they must be willing to show concern for others, especially nations of their own region”, Arinze posited.
For Nigeria which has two world class heritage sites at Soku and Oshogbo, she suggested that it should add more to the existing sites because of the immense benefits that would come to the country through trans-boundary cooperation.