By Shirley Wandera and Sonia Kavuli

The International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) has launched its first Kenyan Heritage Hub in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The hub, located at Swahili Pot in Mombasa, aims to preserve and promote the conservation of cultural heritage through the youth.

Joseph King, a senior director at ICCROM, underscored the importance of empowering youth in the preservation of cultural heritage.

“The youth in the Coastal region and the entire country is an important component. There is a tendency to not give youth a chance to do things. The long-term goal is to empower youth to take care of their cultural heritage and to also better create new heritage,” said King.

The intergovernmental organization is working in service to its member states to promote the conservation of all forms of cultural heritage in every region of the world.

Abraham Ndegwa, a writer, translator, and the Heritage Hub lead at Swahili Pot noted that technology and digitization have resulted in a loss of cultural identity and that involving youth in heritage conversations is critical to addressing this issue.

Daniel Simiyu, a creative, performing artist and volunteer at the Swahili Pot Hub, said the hub will provide a platform for youth to showcase their talents.

“The hub aims at connecting, mentoring, and bringing the youths together, helping them to be creative,” Simiyu said.

The Kenyan Heritage Hub is conducting a one-week workshop from March 27th to March 31st, bringing together participants from African and European countries, heritage institutions, and cultural and tech hubs.

The workshop aims to share experiences, identify opportunities for collaboration, and define avenues for sustainable growth of the heritage hubs.

Heritage Hub Connects is one of the programs under ICCROM and has established hubs in other African countries, like Rwanda, and aims to create more in the future.

Other programs include Modern Heritage of Africa (MoHoA), Hetropolis, and Ode to the Ancestors.

Hetropolis seeks to understand how heritage in metropolitan Mombasa is evolving as different cultures fuse together. Ode to the Ancestors seeks to understand early Kenyans’ work that contributed to cultural heritage aspects.