UNESCO expands list of world’s ‘intangible’ heritage

Cuba’s sensual “Rumba Dance” and Belgium’s thriving “Beer Culture” brought new effervescence to UNESCO’s coveted list of “Intangible” Heritage.

  • Meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, UNESCO gave the nod to the Rumba, which it said evokes “grace, sensuality and joy”, while it said “making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage throughout Belgium”.

Cuba’s Rumba Dance

  • The Cuban delegation to the Addis Ababa meeting dedicated the Rumba’s selection to long-time leader Fidel Castro, who died recently.

  • UNESCO noted that Belgium produces some 1,500 types of beer, while in Cuba because the Rumba sprang from poor communities the dance is an enduring “expression of resistance and self-esteem”.

  • UNESCO also designated Ugandan traditional music Ma’di Bowl Lyre, and dance which is one of the oldest cultural practices of the Madi people of Uganda. It is still performed at some weddings and to celebrate harvests but is at risk “due to it being considered old-fashioned by younger generations” and because it requires materials from plants and animals now endangered.

  • A black pottery manufacturing process from the Portuguese village of Bisalhaes was also added to the UNESCO list. Designed for decorative and cooking purposes, it features on the village’s coat of arms but the pottery is suffering from “waning interest from younger generations and popular demand for industrial alternatives”, according to UNESCO

  • The third cultural gem added to the list is Cossack songs from Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, which tell stories about the tragedy of war and personal relationships of Cossack soldiers. This art form is also in danger, UNESCO said.


  • The list of “intangible” cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them. UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.

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