Tag Archives: HerMaP Africa

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.

Strategic Planning for Ethiopian Heritage Managers

Ethiopian heritage managers completed a HERITΛGE Strategic Planning for Heritage Managers workshop online in late November. The trainees consisted of heads, directors, and experts representing the regional bureaus of Tigray, Somali, Oromia, and Amhara.

The workshop was led by Dr. Alexandros Papalexandris, Assistant Professor at the Athens University of Economics, and is part of the HerMaP Africa which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place Program. This was the second HerMaP Africa workshop to take place in Ethiopia and focused on these specific regions with the primary goal of increasing the capacity of the local Culture and Tourism Bureaus for strategic planning.

During this 3-day training, the participants got acquainted with the notion of strategy and understood why having a strategy is crucial. They had the chance to reflect on the mission and the vision of their bureau and set up strategic goals for the future. They identified different shareholders, and they analyzed the micro and macro environment of their region, using tools such as SWOT and Porter’s analysis. Finally, they learned how to recognize critical success factors in developing and implementing an effective strategy. As a result of the workshop, participants were encouraged to set up a business plan for the Culture and Tourism Bureau of their region, in collaboration with their teams and staff members.

“As Head of the Tigray’s Culture and Tourism Bureau, I found the workshop very helpful and at the same time challenging because it intensively encouraged me to be more critical of what I am trying to develop in my region, especially now, that we are in a post-war, post-crisis period and we are trying to re-operate our office,” said Dr. Atsbha Gebreegziabher, Head of the Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau.

“The workshop was quite informative and very participatory,” added Selamawit Getachew from the Ethiopian Heritage Authority.

About Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. 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.

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.

Empowering Heritage Practitioners in Ghana: Insights from Workshops in Winneba and Accra

In December 2023, two landmark community engagement in cultural heritage workshops took place in Winneba and Accra, Ghana, bringing together dedicated heritage managers from various regions. These workshops, part of HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Africa program and supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, aimed to equip participants with the tools and insights to actively engage communities, navigate cultural complexities, and delve into the rich tapestry of oral history.

© Lena Stefanou

The Accra workshop began on Wednesday 6th December with interactive presentations to 22 attendees by Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulos, Dr. Lena Stefanou and HERITΛGE director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis.  On day two (Thursday 7th) attendees had the chance to explore heritage projects close to their hearts and present in small groups on how they might stimulate local engagement. The projects presented included the Mystic Ayi Tree, traditional Ghanian fabrics, oral storytelling traditions and the history of the famous priest Okonfo Anokye. The final day (Friday 8th) was dedicated exclusively to exploring oral history in heritage contexts. The theories and techniques of preserving oral history were presented to the participants and they were later asked to conduct mock interviews about one group member’s childhood. Following on from this, each group produced an interview report which would help guide them in future oral history research. 

© Lena Stefanou


The following week the same workshop was conducted in Winneba from Monday 11th-Wednesday 13th December. Although this workshop involved fewer participants (up to 18 on the final day a broad range of heritage ideas and projects were explored. The group exercise, this time conducted on day 1, produced ideas about promoting tourism through sculptural monuments in Efutu region, promoting widow’s rights in the Deogo communities and a “reclaiming our roots” festival. The discussions were lively and raised some crucial ethical questions about how a heritage practitioner should involve his or herself in cultural practices. On day two we introduced a new “Who are your Communities” exercise in which participants identified and presented their community and its values. The final day, as in Accra, confronted oral history in heritage contexts. Once again it was very encouraging to hear such a diversity of approaches, questions and opinions and each group produced a helpful report to take away.

All in all, we are very excited about how the workshop went and look forward to the potential for future expansion into other areas of Ghana. 

Empowering Communities: Innovative Workshops on Community and Economic Development in Rwanda

HERITAGE’s Dr Paul Burtenshaw, an expert in heritage economics, heritage tourism and how cultural heritage supports sustainable and community development,  conducted two workshops on Community and Economic Development in Rwanda last month, from the 13 th -15 th and the 16 th -18 th November. The  workshops are part of our HerMaP Africa initiative, kindly supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. They were produced by HERITΛGE’s Rwanda programs Manager, Eirini Oikonomidi. 

The first workshop (13 th – 15 th November) bought together 26 heritage and tourism practitioners in a venue provided by RCHA (Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy) in Kigali: the Kandt House Museum. Half the participants were from the RCHA and the other half from the RCTA (Rwanda Community Tourism Association). The building itself was an early 20 th century German colonial administrative centre but has since been renovated (2004) and houses a museum of Natural History as well as an exhibition (since 2017) detailing the history of Rwanda before and after German colonisation.

The second workshop (16 th -18 th November) was conducted at Red Rocks cultural centre in Musanze district in the Northern Provenances. It trained 13 members of the RCTA, most of whom aged under 30 years old. 

This is the first year HERITΛGE is offering the Community and Economic development workshop in person and online. The workshop has three main objectives:

  1. To provide the attendees with a firm understanding of the motivations for mobilizing cultural resources for economic benefit. At the same time acknowledging the limits of that mobilisation and how economic impacts are measured and communicated.
  2. To help attendees develop a plan for economic benefits: focussing on selecting strategies, setting goals and making judgement calls.
  3. Enabling attendees to implement a complete economic development strategy in their own locations.

On one day of the Kigali workshop, the participants visited the NWC (the Nyamirambo Women Centre) which was a great insight into the work of a local community-focused NGO. The NWC works to promote and empower women through capacity development and employment. At the moment the NWC employs 50 women as seamstresses in a self-sustaining project in which profits are used to fund further initiatives. At the Musanze workshop our hosts, Red Rocks, also engage with promoting the heritage and economies of local communities. It was a valuable experience to see how they worked.

All in all, both workshops were extremely enjoyable, and we look forward to seeing how all 39 participants now come to incorporate their new skills and knowledge into local projects.

Strengthening Partnerships: HERITΛGE visit The Gambia

An extended HERITΛGE team was in The Gambia in August to  assess the progress of the Organization’s capacity development initiatives and explore how local communities are taking on board the heritage management training. HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia program has delivered in the past three years, including HERITΛGE’s Training of Trainers (ToT) program that has been disseminating knowledge, and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders who play a vital role in cultural heritage management. 

“Meeting with stakeholders underscored the effectiveness of our training programs in empowering trainers to pass on their knowledge to a broader audience in the Gambia,” says Mina Morou, HERITΛGE’s Africa Projects Manager. “To build on this success, we have scheduled another cycle of the  “Train the Trainers” program for this autumn, aiming to continue expanding the reach of heritage management education in the region.”

During the visit, our team was happy to reconnect with a range of existing partners and new ones, who play pivotal roles in heritage management and preservation in The Gambia. These include the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG), the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the National Assembly and the Gambia Tourist Board, EU Delegation, the Juffureh Albreda Youths Society (JAYS), My Gambia, National Environment Agency (NEA) and more.

HERITΛGE is also happy to announce that our new Gambian office in Banjul is now operational and will soon start hosting activities.

The program is co-funded by the European Union.

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