On Wednesday, December 6, UNESCO officially recognized the Nguon festival as an intangible heritage of humanity, marking a significant milestone for Cameroon's cultural heritage. This traditional gathering, practiced by the Bamoun people since the 14th century, becomes the first national intangible element to be inscribed on the prestigious Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, during its 18th session held in Kasane, Botswana, validated Cameroon's nomination for the Nguon festival. This committee, composed of 24 member states representing 181 signatory nations, reviewed and approved 55 nominations, including 45 requests for inscription on the Representative List. Leading the Cameroonian delegation at the meetings was Bidoung Mkpatt, Minister of Arts and Culture.
Cameroon previously attempted to secure UNESCO recognition for the Nguon festival in 2020, but the bid was unsuccessful. However, in March 2022, a revised nomination file titled "Nguon, rituals of governance and associated expressions in the Bamoun community" was submitted, ultimately leading to this historic achievement.
The positive evaluation of the application, announced on September 13 by Paul Coustère, regional director and representative of UNESCO's regional and multisectoral office for Central Africa, paved the way for this international recognition. Inclusion on the Representative List provides the Nguon festival with a global platform, showcasing Cameroon's rich cultural diversity and fostering increased awareness and appreciation for this unique tradition.
This recognition underscores the significance of intangible cultural heritage, defined by the 2003 UNESCO Convention as the "practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and know-how that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage."
Patricia Ngo Ngouem