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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Sites Sacres: Patrimoine et identites en Afrique de l'Est: Le cas de Rabai, Kenya
Author:Ballarin, M.P.
Periodical:Journal des Africanistes: Revalorisation patrimoniale des sites naturels sacres (Kenya, Ouganda, Madagascar)
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Conservation - environmental
Abstract:The kayas are natural forests that owe their existence to the culture, beliefs and history of the Mijikenda. They represent an interesting example of how traditional forms of social regulation and ritual uses may have contributed to the maintenance of biodiversity. This article focuses on the Rabai kayas, 30km from Mombasa: this site consists of several villages, five forested hills in which many rituals are performed, and a missionary centre founded by the Church Missionary Society in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the 1990s, the Kenyan government decided to offer legal support to protect the site; from then on, a multiplication of stakeholders have been involved in the process of heritagization. In 2008, UNESCO inscribed three of the kayas on the World Heritage List, which was seen as a great success by the various actors involved, including the scientific teams. This article will offer a picture of the kayas as ritualized spaces, before exploring the mechanisms that allowed this classification. It will show how heritage reveals the competing interests of institutions and stakeholders, particularly when it results in issues relating to tourism and the economy. (Journal Abstract).