The cabinet Secretary (CS) for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, Hon. Peninah Malonza, has expressed the need for African nations to come together in the critical fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.
She said while the COVID 19 pandemic worsened illicit trafficking in cultural property in the Eastern Africa region, discourses and debates on the issues surrounding the return and restitution of stolen cultural property are high on the global agenda.
“It has become essential for African nations to come together in this endeavor. My Ministry recognises the role and importance of engaging African governments as proponents of this Convention and pledges its active participation in this critical fight,” said CS Malonza.
Malonza said her Ministry is keen on ensuring that robust preventive measures are put in place and that she will engage in inter-regional and international co-operation to put a stop to the illicit trade.
“There are over 32,000 cultural properties that have been stolen from Kenya since colonial times. My Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliament to make sure these properties are returned to the country,” she said.
The CS also added that her Ministry will work closely with communities to identify what has been stolen and with the younger generation, to help them understand the importance of cultural properties and heritage and it’s importance to sustainable development.
Malonza also noted that, her Ministry together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya coordinating cooperation with international organizations like UNESCO, has submitted to the National Assembly of Kenya in May 2022 a Memorandum on the accession of Kenya to the 1970 and its ratification.
“My Ministry is following up closely and diligently to ensure that this process is completed, and for our country to soon join the 143 State Parties to this important UNESCO Convention and adding it to the 5 UNESCO Culture Conventions Kenya has already ratified,” she said.
The capacity building workshop is very timely in raising awareness on the importance of protecting our cultural property against the illicit trafficking. It will also empower and equip Kenya to strengthen her contribution to the realization of the Africa Union Agenda 2063, whose aspiration is “Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values, and ethics.”
The CS also made an appeal to the participants attending the workshop from other countries, to help market Kenya’s culure, visit our museums and our beatiful city of Nairobi, the only city in the world with a National Park in it.