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Historian wants UNESCO to consider Moroccan ceramic skills as intangible cultural heritage

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A historian and curator at a national museum in Morocco, Said Chemsi said the Moroccan government hopes to submit an application to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to consider the ceramic skills of the city Safi as an intangible cultural heritage at some point in the future.

Safi was the site of Operation Blackstone, one of the landing sites for Operation Torch during the Second World War. The beautiful city of Safi is in western Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean in the capital of Asfi Province.

“…contributes to the marketing of ceramic products internationally. That prompted the Ministry of Culture to prepare a file in order to classify the ceramic skills of Safi as an intangible heritage on the UNESCO list,” says Chemsi.

A potter based in the city, known for its colourful ceramics, Mohamed Sentil Rbati has said the geology around the city gives it an edge advantage and access to plenty of raw materials.

Rbati was quoted in a report on africannews.com that “the clay of the city of Safi is famous worldwide thanks to the raw materials that we have here, and this makes it an easy material to knead, and when we work on it, it is very flexible, and this material is available in the city of Safi and it is easy to obtain.”

Rbati has worked as a potter since 1972, in a small workshop where his grandparents worked for nine generations. Many artisans like Rbati shun modern techniques and technology in favour of traditional methods.

“We, as potters in Safi, are proud because we still adhere to the traditional and simple ways of working and this method we inherited from our ancestors, and despite the fact that we are in the era of technology, but people always encourage these traditional ways of working, whether in the matter of kneading clay or mixing colours,” Rbati said.

Although the city has chemical (phosphate-based) and food-processing industries located nearby to the south, it is best known for its pottery.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the governorate of Marrakesh-Safi signed an agreement in 2018 that was designed to improve the business climate and bolster the competitiveness of local enterprises, part of an effort to create jobs and drive economic growth in the region.

Culture

Eight years after, abducted Nigerian schoolgirls recaptured by French artist in art exhibition

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Eight years after their abduction while preparing for the West African School Certificate examination in a school in Chibok town in the Nigerian state of Borno, an exhibition of sculptures representing the school girls was displayed by a French artist, Prune Nourry, at the an exhibition in Lagos on Tuesday.

The emotional exhibition which held at the Art Twenty-One at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites in Nigeria’s commercial capital, showed sculptures of the heads of the famous ‘Chibok Girls’ who were kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.

According to Nourry, the exhibition which is billed to travel round the world to raise awareness on the plight of some of the girls who are still in captivity, is a collaborative effort between of the Obafemi Awolowo University where he is a professor, and the families of the over 250 Chibok girls who were kidnapped by the terrorists.

On display at the exhibition titled “Statutes Also Breathe,” were 108 sculpture heads by Nourry and art students of the OAU Fine and Applied Arts department, inspired by the ancient Ife terracotta heads.

“The heads so much evoke memory of the narrative/works on the Igbo Landing in Georgia, where Igbo slaves decided to drown with their masters rather than live as slaves in US,” Nourry said at the unveiling of the exhibition.

According to Nourry, the exhibition is to remember the Chibok girls as the works are “symbols of their agony which also signify love for the girls.”

“The idea is to travel the world with the army and to show all the heads that personify the Chibok missing girls. It is also an opportunity to talk about girls’ education around the world.”

“When I heard about the Chibok girls for the first time, I was travelling with a work, an “Army of girls” called the “Terracotta daughters” in China, and I heard about the Ife heads.

“As a sculptor, it was my dream to go someday to Ife and work with the clay,” she explained.

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Culture

Tunisia’s spicy sauce, Harissa, makes it into UNESCO Cultural Heritage list

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Tunisia’s popular spicy sauce, Harissa, has been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) cultural heritage list at the 17th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which ended in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Sunday.

In a statement announcing the listing, the UN agency said the spicy sauce was chosen because of the “skills, knowledge, and culinary and social practices” which passed the examination at the testing level

Harissa which is one of the most popular spice in the North African country, is made by drying chili peppers in the sun before splitting them, removing their stalks and deseeding.

The chili peppers are then washed, ground and seasoned with salt, garlic and coriander using a pestle and mortar or a manual meat mincer.

Harissa is used regularly in the country and is a culinary tradition, according to UNESCO.

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted at the 32nd General Assembly of UNESCO on Oct. 17, 2003, to protect the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

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