The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), on Monday, 11th November, 2013, at the Conference Hall, Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, “the glory of all lands,” commenced her Africa Regional Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, and the meeting will last for four days.

A UNESCO organized Assembly of culture experts from different parts of the globe who have come together to present and discourse initiatives related to the protection and development of underwater cultural heritage, the meeting is expected to develop an African action plan for the safeguarding of underwater cultural heritage in the region, and initiate new major projects that can progress underwater archaeology in Africa.

It will also consider UNESCO’s 2001Convention, as it relates to the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the African member states, and above all, encourage and promote cooperation among member states, which is essential in building the capabilities for the protection of this heritage.

In her remarks, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bokova, who was represented by the Country Representative of UNESCO (Nigeria), Professor Hassana Alidou, noted that almost everywhere in the world in rivers, lakes or seas lay testimonies of the past expressing high potential of information about the development of humanity and the lives of our ancestors in submerged archaeological sites.

Bokova recalled that the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted by the UNESCO General Conference 2001, intends to enable states to better protect underwater cultural heritage, which its destruction and looting are increasing rapidly and threatens to deprive humanity its heritage, adding that UNESCO fosters the preservation, research and protection of the underwater cultural heritage using the provisions of the 2001 Convention as major tools.

UNESCO is a major player for underwater archaeology and water policy-making in the world, the African region inclusive, and it has for many years improved research and protection of underwater heritage and publication of journals in this direction as well as training of underwater archaeologists.

The Honourable Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke and the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, represented by the Honourable Commissioner, Bayelsa State Ministry of Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Dr. Felix Tuodolo, were in attendance, as well as the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), who was represented by the institute’s Director for Research and Documentation, Prince Bamidele Olusa.

Clifford Ugwu
Corporate Affairs
NICO South-South Zone