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State committed to preserving cultural heritage

The government is committed to preserving, protecting, and promoting the country’s rich cultural heritage for the sake of posterity.

Cultural and heritage tourism around the world has become a cornerstone for economic development, drawing visitors from far and wide to explore the living narratives of the past.

State Department for Culture and Heritage Principal Secretary (PS) Ummi Bashir says the government is committed to the restoration of key historical sites such as museums and forts throughout the country.

Bashir says she is committed to harnessing the country’s cultural heritage as a catalyst for socio-economic growth.

“There is economic potential inherent in preserving and promoting our diverse cultural heritages from around the counties,” she said, calling for conscious efforts to promote the preservation and sustainability of Kenya’s rich and diverse cultural tapestry.

She highlighted the country’s rich heritage and the potential for both heritage and cultural tourism, emphasising that the government is committed to making tourism an appealing venture.

PS Bashir says the country’s culture and heritage date back several centuries and deserve preservation, protection, and promotion.

“Kenya is the cradle of humankind and thus oozing with rich history, culture, and heritage that can serve as a source of revenue for the country,” she said, emphasising the need to preserve the country’s heritage.

Speaking in Kilifi County at the official opening ceremony of the refurbished Dr. Krapf’s residence into the Rabai Resource Centre, accompanied by German Ambassador Sebastian Groth and other guests, Bashir expressed the government’s ambition to make Kenya a prominent hub for cultural tourism.

The mediaeval religious architecture was built in 1846 by Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German missionary, linguist, and explorer in East Africa who wrote the first dictionary and grammar of the Swahili language.

The German government has been providing support for the conservation and preservation of the site, which was the first church and school to be built in East and Central Africa.

The Krapf Memorial Rabai Museum, a rustic setting of the 19th-century church edifice built in 1846, has been facing serious deterioration as a result of the ravages of the unforgiving elements.

The event was also attended by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Director General, Prof. Mary Gikungu, NMK Board of Directors Chairman Edwin Obonyo, and the Director of Antiquities, Sites, and Monuments at the NMK, Fredrick Manthi, among other dignitaries.

PS Bashir says the government is cognizant of the fact that the country’s iconic heritage sites need to be protected, maintained, and marketed to domestic and foreign tourists.

At the same time, PS Bashir said many of the iconic heritage sites, like the sacred coastal Kaya forests, face many threats, such as climate change and illegal logging, and underscored the need to ‘boost our efforts to conserve them’.

She warned that global warming due to sea level rise was becoming a widespread threat to protected sites for their ‘outstanding universal value’ and could spell disaster.

On his part, the German envoy said his country is committed to supporting the preservation of Kenya’s cultural heritage through partnership.

Ambassador Groth, who pledged to boost cultural preservation, called on Kenyans to take charge of preserving their past and commended the NMK for its sustained commitment to preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage.

“We are committed to the preservation of the Krapf Memorial Rabai Museum because it forms the centrepiece of the Kenya-German diplomatic relationship,” he said.

On her part, Prof. Gikungu said the NMK is committed to the restoration of ancient and historic edifices and the conservation and preservation of rare museum collections.

Prof. Gikungu said NMK will be working with county governments on the preservation of cultural and historical sites and monuments domiciled in their localities.

She said that NMK fully supports the efforts by the counties and other stakeholders in ensuring that cultural heritage is preserved and promoted in the country.

By Mohamed Hassan

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