: Mellon Foundation

Preserving Africa’s Rich Heritage: Our Initiatives

Photo courtesy of MyGambia

As the world celebrates African Heritage Day on May 5th, we highlight our initiatives aimed at conserving, preserving, and promoting Africa’s diverse cultural legacy. The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE), in collaboration with the Mellon Foundation and the European Union, stands at the forefront of conservation and community engagement, catalyzing efforts to safeguard and celebrate Africa’s invaluable natural and cultural heritage. Here are three important ways HERITΛGE is currently contributing to the preservation and promotion of African Heritage

  1. HerMaP Africa: HERITΛGE, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation, has embarked on a mission to fortify its country-specific programs across the African continent. A substantial $5 million grant, with support from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, has been instrumental in empowering local organizations and enhancing their capacity to preserve heritage and culture. Notably, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda, among other regions, benefit from this collaborative effort through initiatives like HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia program. This funding injection includes $1 million allocated for small grants to African organizations and a $450,000 fellowship program aimed at nurturing heritage leaders. Such initiatives not only safeguard Africa’s cultural treasures but also foster socio-economic development, ensuring that heritage remains a vibrant force for progress.
  1. Africa Grants Program: HERITΛGE is proud to announce the launch of its Africa Grants Program, designed to support grassroots heritage projects across the continent. Ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, these small grants target organizations, groups, and individuals committed to preserving and promoting local heritage for socio-economic development. This initiative, part of the broader HerMaP-Africa project, is made possible through the generous backing of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. We have already allocated the first 19 grants and are on track to announce at least 30 more by the end of 2024. By empowering local stakeholders and fostering community-led initiatives, the Africa Small Grants Program not only safeguards Africa’s cultural tapestry but also nurtures its potential as a driver of sustainable development.
  1. HerMaP Gambia: In a groundbreaking collaboration co-funded by the European Union, HERITΛGE spearheads the HerMaP Gambia initiative, aimed at elevating the cultural and creative industries within The Gambia. Since its inception in 2020, HerMaP Gambia has served as a beacon of progress, harnessing the power of culture to catalyze social and economic advancement.  At its core, HerMaP Gambia seeks to enrich the understanding and appreciation of Gambian cultural heritage while enhancing the capacity of key stakeholders in the cultural sector. By nurturing the management and appreciation of Gambian cultural heritage, this initiative paves the way for sustainable socio-economic growth, creating avenues for job creation and community development.

As we commemorate African Heritage Day, let us recognize the tireless efforts of local communities in Africa and their supporters to steward and harness the continent’s amazing heritage. Through collaborative initiatives, targeted grants, and visionary programs, cultural treasures are safeguarded and their potential is unlocked to catalyze progress and prosperity across the African continent. Together, let us celebrate and protect the invaluable legacy of Africa’s diverse heritage for generations to come.

19 African heritage projects receive small grants

The Nakore Mosque in Northern Ghana is one of the three mosques being restored with funding from our HerMaP Africa grants

The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE) is pleased to announce the first 19 recipients of its HerMaP Africa small grants for organizations, groups, and individuals working with heritage in Africa. The HerMaP Africa initiative is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program.

In the first round, over $220,000 has been awarded to projects that focus on the protection and promotion of local cultural and natural heritage and aim to contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities and beyond. By the end of 2024, $1 million will have been awarded in small grants to African heritage projects.

“These grants aim to unlock the potential of heritage in Africa and make a difference for the development of local communities,” said HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. “Heritage has the ability to empower, and we are confident that in partnership with local organizations, we can help create sustainable development and safeguard local heritage for generations to come.”

To receive a small grant from the HerMaP Africa program, applicants have to demonstrate that their project has a lasting impact, develops capacity, builds networks, strengthens local skills, and has a strong, measurable impact for the protection of heritage and the benefit of local people.

“We are already seeing the effect the grant is having in transforming these valuable heritage resources for the community,” says Dr. Mahmoud Malik Saako of the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board, an assistant director of museums and project manager of the Islamic Heritage in northern Ghana, one of the first projects to receive a grant. The project aims to restore three old mosques, products of the long-distance trade networks that once existed in Northern Ghana. Located along the old trade routes, there are ten remaining mosques in the region, all facing challenges posed by modernization, arabization, and climate change.

“The mosques are tangible evidence of the material culture and history of northern Ghana and are part of the valuable heritage resources of local communities. The communities realize the need to restore them as part of their culture and history and to develop ecotourism around them. Their preservation will go a long way to pave the way for their eventual inscription onto the World Monuments List,” adds Dr. Mahmoud.

A full list of the projects that have been awarded small grants can be found here.

Applications are still being accepted for the third round of small grants for heritage projects. Find out more and apply here.

About HerMaP-Africa: Made possible by a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, HerMaP Africa aims to strengthen HERITΛGE’s Africa programs, fund initiatives that link heritage with socio-economic impact, develop the capacity of local organizations, and help them preserve African heritage and culture.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: The Mellon Foundation is the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the United States. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through its grants, it seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

What can cultural heritage do for business in Africa?

WIA, Heritage, Webinar, Business, Poster

WIA Webinar Poster

HERITΛGE celebrated African Heritage Day on May 5th by taking part in an online webinar organized by the Women in Africa Initiative (WIA). WIA is the leading international platform for the economic development and support of African women entrepreneurs and, accordingly, the topic under discussion was whether preserving a country’s heritage assets can serve as the basis for building a successful business.

Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis, HERITΛGE Director, and the organization’s Head of Africa Programmes, Mina Morou, both contributed to the webinar which was moderated by Oluwatoyin Adegbite-Moore, Founder & CEO of Nigeria’s SHEAFAM & TAM, a consulting business, and Executive Vice-President for Africa & Europe, for financial services company REACH HQ.

They were joined on the panel by Harriet Ng’Ok, Founder of Harriet’s Botanicals and HERITΛGE alumna, and Zaahirah Muthy, Founder OF ZeeArts Gallery, philanthropist, artist activist, and WIA Ambassador.

Adegbite-Moore kicked off the discussion by asking whether heritage can help business and how can business help heritage.

“In many ways, heritage consists of unique content, of privileged knowledge for local communities anywhere. And this privileged knowledge can become a unique selling point for business and can help business branding, business quality, etc. while at the same time, business with its products and services can actually really strengthen these heritage values and empower them,” said Dr. Kyriakidis.

Ng’Ok founded Harriet’s Botanicals, an African-sourced wellness products company, after being helped herself by her community’s traditional medicine that uses locally-found plants. She joined the discussion from Kenya.

“My idea was to bring cultural practitioners together and formalize their trade… we have grown in leaps and bounds. We now have a factory and manufacture up to 500 bottles on any given day … We are the beginning of African medicine featuring on a global platform just like other cultures, like the Chinese and the Ayurvedic are,” Ng’Ok said.

“The reason I named our first product Arorwet and maintained the name of this tree is that people in the village would begin to understand the value of the traditional indigenous trees and not cut them for firewood or for sale and would start instead to regrow them on their farms,” she added.

Below you can find out more and watch the webinar which was on the day attended by around 1000 people on the day.

 

ABOUT AFRICAN WORLD HERITAGE DAY: Proclaimed by UNESCO in 2015, African World Heritage Day (5 May) is an opportunity for people around the world, particularly Africans, to celebrate the Continent’s unique cultural and natural heritage. While Africa is underrepresented on the World Heritage List (African properties account for some 12% of all inscribed sites worldwide), a disproportionally high percentage (39%) of these properties are on the World Heritage List in Danger. It is therefore more urgent than ever that this irreplaceable heritage be protected and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

HERITΛGE is currently working to untap the potential of heritage in Africa through its Heritage Management Project – Africa (HerMaP-Africa) program which is funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program and through its HerMaP Gambia program which is co-funded by the European Union.

 

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: SMALL GRANTS FOR AFRICAN HERITAGE PROJECTS

The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE) is launching a new call for concept notes for small grants ($5000-$50000) for organizations, groups, and individuals working with heritage in Africa.

 

The grants are part of our Heritage Management Project – Africa (HerMaP-Africa)  which is funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. They will fund projects that focus on the protection of and/or promotion of local heritage for socio-economic development in the continent.

“We are looking to untap the potential of heritage in Africa, in order to make a difference for the development of local communities, “ said HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis.  “Heritage has the ability to empower and we are ready to partner with local organizations around the continent to this end.”

Applicants will have to demonstrate that their project addresses one or more of three criteria:

1) Sustainability – Our focus is on projects that will have a lasting impact, much beyond the duration of the project, for example protecting heritage sites from desertification by creating green belts, preserving/stabilizing/restoring and adaptively reusing a historic building for community needs, researching the public heritage landscape, installing solar panels at heritage sites to generate income or decrease expenditure in the long term, building eco-friendly tourism infrastructure, direct interventions that strengthen social institutions, like traditional methods of mediation, etc.

2) Capacity development and network building – We encourage projects that strengthen local skills and build closer links with peer organizations in the HERITΛGE network. Examples include on-the-job training in preventive conservation (e.g clearing or fencing sites), experience and expertise exchanges with other local NGOs on shared issues such as desertification or erosion of sites, co-operative training on museum exhibition design, etc.

3) Concrete and community impact – We encourage projects with strong, measurable incomes in terms of heritage protection and benefits to local people. Each project should provide clear indicators of the planned impact. These indicators will depend on the type of work carried out but some examples include increased visitation to a heritage site or program, financial benefits to the local community in terms of increased employment opportunities or local businesses created; tourism earnings; money savings by solar panel installation; the size of area protected from desertification, etc.

To apply for these grants please complete the concept note application form you will find here.

About HerMaP-Africa: Made possible by a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, it aims to strengthen HERITΛGE’s Africa programs, fund initiatives that link heritage with socio-economic impact, develop the capacity of local organizations, and help them preserve African heritage and culture.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the United States. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through its grants, it seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

HERITΛGE and the Mellon Foundation Partner to Expand Africa Programs

Mellon Foundation, Africa Grant

HERITΛGE trains professionals in a number of African countries, including The Gambia

$5 million grant to strengthen HERITΛGE programs, including $1 million in small grants to organizations in Africa and a $450,000 fellowship program for heritage leaders

The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE) joins forces with the Mellon Foundation to strengthen its country-specific programs and fund initiatives that link heritage with socio-economic impact, developing the capacity of local organizations in the African continent and help them preserve their heritage and culture.

“Heritage is much more than monuments and is potentially a very important sustainable resource for education, local pride, and economic and cultural development. It could become a key ally for peacebuilding, reconstruction, development, and social inclusion,” said HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evanghelos Kyriakidis. “Yet the cardinal importance of the African continent in this field is not fully recognized. We have joined forces with the Mellon Foundation to address this challenge.”

The Mellon Foundation support will enable HERITΛGE to grow its ongoing capacity mapping and development program, identifying the current strengths and needs of the heritage and culture sector, its institutions, and the professional bodies in Ethiopia, where it is currently operating a pilot program partly funded by the UN’s Economic Commission. It will also enable HERITΛGE to launch country-specific programs for Ghana and Rwanda.

The $1 million regranting program will provide small grants to African groups and organizations for heritage projects and to support culturally-focused socio-economic development. An additional $450,000 has been earmarked for a fellowship program aimed at African leading practitioners while HERITΛGE will also provide capacity-building and advisory services to projects and key stakeholders on the continent.

“This bold initiative will create opportunities for expanding and innovating heritage practices across Africa and provide significant resources to directly support local projects, organizations, and leaders on the continent,” said Mellon Foundation Humanities in Place program officer Justin Garrett Moore. “HERITΛGE’s program has the potential to engage and benefit local communities, the broader African diaspora, and the entire world–as African heritage is an essential part of our shared history and world heritage.”

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the United States. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

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