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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Listing The Sacred Mijikenda 'Kaya' Forests as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: “The Long Journey”
Author:Githitho, A.
Periodical:Journal des Africanistes: Revalorisation patrimoniale des sites naturels sacres (Kenya, Ouganda, Madagascar)
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Mijikenda - ethnic group
Conservation - environmental
Abbreviation:UNESCO=United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Abstract:Kayas are a major feature of Kenya's coastal strip. Originally residential sites, today they are regarded as sacred and play a central role in the identity of the Mijikenda, a group of linguistically-related Bantu speakers. For most of the twentieth century, local communities continued to venerate the forests, and achieved significant success in protecting them against encroachment without any State involvement. In recognition of their rich natural and cultural heritage, legal gazettement of Kaya forests as national monuments began in 1992, under the National Museums and Heritage Act. Because of the kayas' unique nature as high biodiversity, traditionally conserved sites, the Kenya State Party decided to present them for listing as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They were added to the candidate list in 1999, indicating Kenya's intention to have them listed; so began the process of preparing a nomination dossier, outlining the outstanding universal value of the sites. This paper aims to present all the processes that led to the kayas' inscription on the World Heritage List, while also providing a first-hand testimony on this “long journey”. (Journal Abstract).