On the 31th of October, the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO was proud to host the first ever celebration of the UNESCO Audiovisual Heritage Day in Lesotho. After the morning session of the Sesotho film festival, more people gathered in the American Corner of the State Library. Besides film makers that stayed after the film festival, we were proud to welcome media and motion picture professionals, college students, interested individuals and students from ‘Mabathoana and New Millennium High Schools. This diverse audience came to embrace the significant role of audiovisual material for safeguarding our common culture, history and thus our Basotho identity.
Proceedings The celebration was officially opened by our great moderator for the day, Mpho Letima who introduced the theme of this year’s international celebration: “Embrace the past through sound and images”. Followed by this introduction, we were privileged to have Ntate Mangoaela deliver a key note speech, which highlighted the importance of UNESCO for bringing different aspects of development together. He pledged for a flexible address of culture as it is very dynamic and by no means to be seen as static. Moreover, he emphasized the role of radio and television (as platforms for audiovisual material) in increasing remembrance and creating lasting memories that might otherwise be forgotten more easily. After that, two short historical video clips demonstrated the power of film in passing on the atmosphere and reality of life in different times and eras. The necessity to value video clips and films and hence to preserve them was stressed further by Ntate Pusetso, who passionately delivered an informative presentation on “Audiovisuals from a museum perspective”. After all these inspiring introductions, the panel discussion began. As our panelists, we were pleased to welcome ‘Me Matsooana from UNESCOM, Ntate Lekhetho Ntsukunyane from MISA Lesotho, Ntate Rapitso Rapitso from the broadcasting media, Ntate Mapanela from the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture in the Department of Culture and Ntate Pusetso Nyabela from Morija Museums and Archives. The panelists’ different professional backgrounds enabled a very varied discussion. ‘Me Letima was keen to pose very targeted questions, allowing different perspectives from tech, culture and arts, media as well as international and national policy levels to be articulated, thus stimulating a broad and varied outlook on issues concerning accessibility and archiving of audiovisuals today and in the future. ‘Me ’Matsooana coiled everything together to highlight how each of the stakeholders in their respective institutions have a very important role to play towards the preservation and safeguarding of Audiovisual Heritage collections. The panelists were so engaged in their responses that we were actually falling short of time. However, the hospitality of the American corner, tolerating the exceeding of our given time in order to allow the audience to ask questions and comment on the points and arguments made earlier, is highly appreciated.
Conclusion We think it is safe to say that the first celebration of the Audiovisual Heritage Day in Lesotho was a true success, and deserves to be repeated next year and in the ones to come. Until then, let us continue the conversation around this important topic. Let us ENGAGE the PAST through SOUND and IMAGES!
A huge thank you to all the people that contributed to the success of this day. Rea leboha haholo!