African World Heritage Day

April 30th, 2021

May 5th was established as African World Heritage Day in November of 2015 by The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization https://awhf.net/. This fund was created in 2006 to support the conservation and protection of Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. This day is an important celebration of the rich and diverse culture and heritage that comes from the oldest civilizations on Earth. Heritage is an outstanding universal value, and the goal in preserving it is to make sure that the legacy is passed on to future generations. 

Interestingly, Africa is underrepresented on the World Heritage List, with African properties accounting for 12% of all inscribed sites worldwide, 39% of these properties are on the World Heritage List in Danger which is a disproportionally high number. Africa faces a lot of current threats including climate change, uncontrolled development, poaching, civil unrest, and instability. Many of Africa’s wonders risk losing their outstanding universal value. It is crucial for us to protect and preserve this culture. By being able to preserve heritage we can learn about it and as a result be immersed in diversity out of which respect, acceptance, and inclusion grow. 

Throughout Africa, celebrations take place intending to strengthen involvement, interaction, and networking of young people; encourage youth ownership of their heritage; highlight international cooperation for culture and nature conservation across Africa; raise awareness on African heritage preservation; encourage cooperation between State Parties, and to broaden the coverage of African World Heritage Day and African World Heritage sites on social media networks. Around the world, this day is celebrated in many ways and events include the African World Heritage Youth Forum, cultural presentations, and an Instagram photo contest. In honor of this day, we want to share below some interesting facts about Africa with all of you!

  • In Africa, there are 54 countries and one “non-self-governing territory”, Western Sahara.
  • Africa comprised up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs before colonial rule.
  • The Pharaonic civilization of ancient Egypt is one of the world’s oldest and longest-lasting civilizations.
  • Over 25% of all languages are spoken only in Africa, with over 2,000 recognized languages spoken on the continent.
  • The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, over 60% of the cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.
  • Africa is the world’s second-largest continent covering about over 30 million square kilometers.
  • Africa is the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people or 16% of the world’s population. Over 50% of Africans are under the age of 25.
  • The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, and it is located in northern Africa.
  • Africa boasts record-holding animals as well. It is home to the largest land mammal, the African elephant, the tallest mammal, the giraffe, and the fastest mammal, the cheetah. How cool is that?

You can participate in the African World Heritage Day by:

  • Reading about famous historic sites in Africa including the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the city of Thebes in Egypt, Leptis Magna in Libya, the Elmina Castle in Ghana. 
  • Learning about African heroes including Nelson Mandela, Menelik II, Desmond Tutu, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Chinua Achebe.
  • Watching a movie set in Africa, such as Hotel Rwanda, Out of Africa, Goodbye Bafana, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Boy who Harnessed the Wind and Beat the Drum, etc.

Sharing this day on social media with #AfricanWorldHeritageDay and #MyAfricanHeritage.(UNESCO). This day was chosen as it marked the anniversary of the African World Heritage Fund, the website of  which can be found at https://awhf.net/