Cover image: African World Heritage Day

African World Heritage Day

Every May 5th.

Celebrating African cultural and natural heritage.

Updated 2 years ago

About the event

Inaugurated in 2015 African World Heritage Day was set up to raise awareness of Africa’s rich, and often underappreciated, cultural and natural heritage. Despite its sheer size, extensive history and cultural diversity African sites only make up 12% of the World Heritage List and a disproportionate 39% of these sites are in danger of being lost. This day seeks to reinforce the importance of African heritage both for Africans and for the world.

How to approach it

This is a great opportunity to introduce students to the amazing cultural diversity of Africa. Show students a variety of cultures from different African regions and time periods. You could show the long history of connections between Egypt and North Africa to the Roman and Greek Empires. It’d be great to touch on lesser known civilisations like Axum or Kush which have spectacular monuments still standing today. To the west you could cover Benin, Ancient Ghana or Asante to name a few. To the south and east look into Great Zimbabwe or Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania. This of course barely scratches the surface of areas and times you could cover. 

Get older students thinking about why Africa is underappreciated and underrepresented when it comes to global cultural heritage. This is a great time to introduce students to the effects of the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism and the neo-colonialism of today’s global economy on how Africa is perceieved internationally. Ask: if Africa has such a long history of intricate, diverse civilisations why is it stereotyped as a ‘developing’ continent? 

Conversation starter

Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It has a long, long history with lots of different civilisations. The Egyptian Pyramids are one amazing heritage site in Africa. Can you think of another? Try to research a new one today.