Pwani Tribune

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Pwani Innovation Week; Speech on Heritage and Youth Mentorship in Heritage.

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“Honourable CSs, Your Excellencies Ambassadors/High Commissioners, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen…good morning.

I am honoured and humbled to be in front of you as we mark the 4th Edition of Pwani Innovation Week under the theme ‘Sailing Beyond Borders: Empowering Youth in the Digital Economy for a Sustainable Future’. We are grateful to our hosts Swahilipot Hub, Chief Mentor Mr. Mahmood Noor and all partners of Pwani Innovation Week for making this event possible. As a youth and heritage practitioner I am grateful for the inclusion of heritage matters as part of Pwani Innovation Week’s agenda. Heritage is everybody’s business and an interconnected approach among all age groups is necessary. For the sake of heritage preservation, engaging young people is even more crucial to sustainability.

Heritage has the potential for huge spillover effects on various fields, especially in this digital age. And the youth are best placed to incorporate heritage into the digital economy for a sustainable future. For organisations domiciled around heritage matters, it is important to remember that heritage experiences should be created hand in hand with young people, not just for them. If we get this approach right, opportunities abound in digitisation where globally, there has been great progress in the provision of digital solutions for archives, oral histories and heritage sites. Museums and heritage sites are using high-resolution images, 3D models, live streaming, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to replicate the experience of physically visiting the locations to an online audience. A new dimension can also be offered to those physically on site through mobile apps that enrich the visitor experience by listening to audio trails curating extra details in a ‘youth-friendly’ way. Possibilities are endless.

While some will argue that physical experiences supercede digital ones, we cannot afford to ignore the obvious. Studies show that the younger generation are much more open to embracing a combination of heritage and digital engagement. We must engage young people in the context of how they see their world and in a manner that is sustainable for them. The youth have proven time and time again that with the right motivation, they can accomplish the impossible. I am confident that with the necessary support, Swahilipot Hub can spearhead similar innovation around heritage locally and within that, added gainful opportunities for the youth.

I acknowledge the promise already shown in this sector through existing initiatives like the Mombasa Tourism Innovation Lab housed here at Swahilipot Hub and the upcoming Kenya Heritage Hub, an ICCROM and National Museums of Kenya intitiative seeking to foster innovation and creativity within the heritage sector. Through the Kenya Heritage Hub’s goals to educate the youth in heritage-related disciplines, preserve and promote traditional craftsmanship, performing and visual arts, Kenyan youth will be able to translate their cultural assets to viable economic products. I am also particularly excited about the prospect of conducting digital mapping of heritage sites and trainings in underwater photography to protect our country’s underwater heritage.

Finally, I commend my contemporary entities within the heritage sphere like Hekaya Arts Initiative, Paukwa, Africa Digital Heritage, Hiistoriya, Pwani Club, Jukwaa Arts Productions, Learn Giryama, Taita Dictionary and a host of others for their contribution to this sector. Their incredible efforts do not go unnoticed. I hope this session will offer them even further progression. With those remarks I wish you all a great day ahead of learning and networking.”

Albert Mwamburi/Pwani Tribune,
Historian, Cultural Documentor.

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