Kenya Launches China-funded Digital Library for Traditional Games

The National Museums of Kenya in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Monday launched an open digital library for indigenous games funded by Chinese firm, Tencent.

Kenyan officials said digitization of traditional games is part of a broader strategy to preserve the country's rich cultural heritage and disseminate it to future generations in an efficient way.

"This country has a huge repository of traditional games which should be preserved in a digital format for easier reference by the next generation," said Mzalendo Kibunjia, Director General of National Museums of Kenya.

The East Africa nation is the first country in Africa to launch the Tencent-funded open digital library on traditional games project that has been successfully implemented in Brazil, Bangladesh, Greece and Mongolia.

It seeks to harness modern technologies and innovations to preserve and showcase indigenous games that were integral part of local communities' culture.

"This crucial partnership with Tencent will help reverse loss of valuable information on traditional games. They are part of our cultural heritage and are key in promoting cohesion, inclusivity and inter-generational learning," said Kibunjia.

He said creation of a digital library to store and disseminate sporting activities practiced by Kenyan indigenous communities will help foster inter-ethnic relations and boost tourism revenue.

Anne Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, said that Kenya's digital library for traditional games will help convey values of solidarity, respect for diversity and inclusion.

"Digitization of indigenous games will create bridges across generations and among communities. It will contribute to cultural awareness, inter-generational learning and exchange," Jatta said.

The digitization of information and visual images of sporting activities cherished by indigenous Kenyan communities is part of a global project launched by UNESCO office in Beijing in 2015.

Zeng Qingyi, an officer at Communication and Information Sector at UNESCO Beijing Office said that a digital repository on traditional games will enable Kenyan youth appreciate the rich culture of their ancestors.

"This information on traditional games when digitized can be converted into learning materials. It will encourage young children to practice these games," Zeng said.