For the third consecutive year, Unesco has selected a new country to be added to its list of World Heritage Sites in the United States. This time, the US is getting the nod not from a European country, but from Zimbabwe. As you might imagine, all eyes are on Zimbabwe due to the recent events in that country and in neighboring countries in Africa. What exactly makes Zimbabwe a favorite among Unesco?
First, is its impressive geological formation, which includes Grand Canyon-sized geysers and massive mineral wealth. In fact, this park is the world’s largest park, stretching over 1 million square kilometers. It has diverse habitats, vegetation and cultural features. The park has also been designated a World Heritage site. Moreover, it is home to numerous animals, including lions, zebra, hippos, gazelles and deer.
Next, there are its cultural resources and activities. UNESCO calls these sites and activities as an indicator of the quality of life in the country. For instance, the Mongan Culture Museum and Research Centre exemplify the distinctive Mongan ethnic identity and signify the richness of Mongan culture. There are also arts and crafts museums, such as the Saahibun Exhibition Centre, which displays art and craft products from a variety of cultures and regions. There are many other museums, such as the New York Historical Society and National Museum of African American Art, which highlight African art and culture in the US.
Cultural gaps could not be an overlooked factor in determining a country’s status. While UNESCO focuses primarily on physical indicators, it also takes into consideration the social aspects of culture. For instance, Zimbabwe lacks the fundamental infrastructure that would allow it to undertake successful cultural activities. It has only one museum space, which is insufficient for its planned national cultural programme.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The world has become more connected through Unesco World Heritage sites. However, this should not be considered the whole story. Cultural gaps, if left unaddressed, will undermine efforts to fully recognise the richness of culture in the US and elsewhere in the region. There is a need to address cultural gaps and diversify cultural programmes. This could go a long way towards addressing some of the most glaring issues related to Unesco’s World Heritage sites.
One of the most significant aspects of the US culture is literature. America is home to a number of great literary works, such as “Odyssey” by Mark Twain, and “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” by Beatty and his cast of characters. But, as the nineteenth century drew to a close, the genre of literature began to die out. Writing became a status symbol for wealthy Americans. One of the reasons for this was that most of these writers lived in isolated areas and were prevented by lack of transportation to travel to the major cities. Many of them were forced to abandon their books at homes in the outskirts of major towns.
Another facet of US culture is music. Most artists born in the United States are members of a family of country blues musicians. Although many of these performers were influenced by African music and art, there were also notable musical influences from European music and classical theories. A major problem with the Unesco World Heritage site in Memory Park is that it fails to mention the influence of European and Western music on the American black gospel music movement.
In The End
By closing all these cultural gaps, it is hoped that Unesco’s World Heritage Sites can be more sensitive to the racism and social injustice that existed in the US before and after the signing of the Convention. It is hoped that, by creating a more diverse heritage, these sites can better encourage future generations to identify with the customs, traditions and history of their ancestors. These sites should be a source of pride and not a cause for renewed conflict. As these battles continue to rage in other parts of the world, the United States should work harder to close cultural gaps.