Tourism Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza wants African nations to come together in the critical fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property.
She said while the COVID-19 pandemic worsened illicit trafficking in cultural property in the Eastern Africa region, discourses and debates on the issues surrounding the return and restitution of stolen cultural property are high on the global agenda.
“It has become essential for African nations to come together in this endeavor. We recognize the role and importance of engaging African governments as proponents of this Convention and pledge its active participation in this critical fight,” said CS Malonza.
Malonza said her ministry is keen on ensuring that robust preventive measures are put in place and that she will engage in inter-regional and international cooperation to put a stop to the illicit trade.
“There are over 32,000 cultural properties that have been stolen from Kenya since colonial times. My ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliament to make sure these properties are returned to the country,” she said.
She added that her ministry will work closely with communities to identify what has been stolen and with the younger generation, to help them understand the importance of cultural properties and heritage and its importance to sustainable development.
Malonza said the ministry with that of Foreign Affairs is coordinating cooperation with international organizations like UNESCO and has submitted to the National Assembly of Kenya in May 2022 a Memorandum on the accession of Kenya to the 1970 and its ratification.
“We are following up closely and diligently to ensure that this process is completed, and for our country to soon join the 143 State Parties to this important UNESCO Convention and adding it to the 5 UNESCO Culture Conventions Kenya has already ratified,” she said.
She spoke at a capacity-building workshop that is timely in raising awareness on the importance of protecting cultural property against illicit trafficking.
“It will also empower and equip Kenya to strengthen her contribution to the realization of the Africa Union Agenda 2063, whose aspiration is “Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values, and ethics.”