Creating Open Digital Library on Traditional Games in Kenya

Nov 27, 2017 - 9:44 am

In partnership with the National Museums of Kenya and Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group, UENSCO announced the national launch the project “Creating Open Digital Library on Traditional Games in Kenya” on 20 November 2017 at the National Museums of Kenya.

UNESCO and Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group (IEG) launched the project “Creation of an Open Digital Library on Traditional Games – Innovative use of ICTs to Safeguard and Promote Indigenous and Local Knowledge for Learning, Development, and the Rapprochement of Cultures” in 2015. The project aims to innovatively use ICTs to preserve and disseminate information about traditional and unique games and sports, in order to safeguard such knowledge as living heritage in the public domain, narrow the digital divide and promote the rapprochement of cultures. Following the successful development of digital archives on traditional games in Brazil, Bangladesh, Greece and Mongolia, a one-year long pilot project was officially launched in Kenya.

Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya and Dr. Kiprop Lagat, Director, Ministry of Sports, Culture and The Arts delivered opening remarks. They both warmly welcomed the initiative to pilot the project in Kenya, and expressed sincere appreciation for the support of UNESCO and Tencent.

It was noted in the opening remarks of Ms.  Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa that “In the Kenyan context, we are keen to explore the message of Peace that traditional games can play in delving into the common heritage of the country and bringing the people of Kenya together.”

Qingyi Zeng, National Professional Officer at UNESCO Office in Beijing noted in her keynote presentation that, the vision of the project is to create the world’s largest and most well-known digital library platform and user community, powered by advanced technology provide by Tencent, which will allow experts, scholars, and any interested individual to access knowledge on traditional games free of charge, and to creatively reuse these valuable resources for learning and disseminating this knowledge. So far, the project has collected descriptive data and audio-visual documentation of 36 traditional games from four pilot countries, and made them openly accessible on the digital repository.

Yati Zhang, Marketing Director of Tencent IEG shared that the Tencent team have made a series of attempts to explore the possibility of presenting local traditional games in digital forms, so that traditional games can return to people’s lives with a new look, and bring new fun and inspiration in the open internet that connects everything.

The launch event featured keynotes on the importance of the digital preservation and the use of technology, digital creation and intellectual property, as well as a showcase of three traditional Kenyan games demonstrated by elderly and young practitioners. This Project will also ensure that intangible cultural heritage related to traditional games in Kenya is transmitted to the younger generation, both through formal and non-formal education.

Traditional sports and games, as part of our cultural heritage, are a means to convey values of solidarity, diversity, fair play, inclusion and cultural awareness. They create bridges across generations, among communities and nations, between the elderly and the young people, who are the key actors and partners to contribute to cultural-awareness and inter-generational learning and exchange. However, many traditional sports and games have already disappeared or are under threat in the digital age. Therefore, the documentation of traditional games through technologies becomes imperative to safeguarding this vulnerable heritage.