Africa: Morocco’s Ministry to Nominate ‘Abidat R’ma’ Art to UNESCO Heritage List to Promote and preserve culture

UNESCO

Morocco’s Ministry of Culture is considering nominating the art of Abidat R’ma to UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List.

According to moroccoworldnews.com, Azouz Boujamid, the Regional Director of Culture of Beni Mellal-Khenifra, said this week that the Department of Culture is working to inventory all the data relating to the ancestral heritage of Abidat R’ma in order to inscribe it as a World Heritage.

Boujamid made his remarks on the sidelines of the 21st national festival of Abidat R’ma held in the north-central cities of Khouribga, Bejaad, and Oued Zem between July 1-3.

He further noted that this year’s festival, which has been held for more than 20 years, is part of Morocco’s efforts to “safeguard intangible cultural heritage and ensure the continuity of Abidat R’ma’s folk art and encourage rising generations to engage with it.”

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Themed “Abidat R’ma, living art and eternal heritage,” the festival saw the participation of about 40 Abidat R’ma troops from different regions of the country with the aim of promoting Morocco’s rich, centuries-old culture and authentic musical genre.

According to archives from the Culture Ministry, the music of Abidat R’ma dates back to the 8th century AH (Hijri year – Islamic calendar). It was originally intended to serve and entertain hunters in their excursion.
The name is composed of “Abidat,” which is the plural of “Abd” meaning slave, and R’ma which means archery or rifle shooting.

The art “Abidat” is performed in a unique way as the dancers often give the impression of carrying out an agricultural activity such as harvesting, cultivation, spinning wool, horse gestures, and fantasia, among others.
Sometimes it takes the form of a theatrical performance of the gazelle hunt accompanied by melodies and rhythms.
Currently, Morocco is the second African country with the most world heritage sites registered by UNESCO.

In 2021 alone, UNESCO’s committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage inscribed Arabic calligraphy, falconry, and Tbourida as intangible heritage present and practiced in Morocco.

The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity currently has 492 elements inscribed, aiming to ensure greater visibility for cultural practices and know-how carried by communities all over the world.

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