Press Releases

    8 February 2005

    Secretary-General Urges Quick Action to Preserve “Priceless Treasure” of African Rock Art, in Video Message

    NEW YORK, 7 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s video message for the Trust for African Rock Art:

    The rock art of Africa makes up one of the oldest and most extensive records on Earth of human thought.  It shows the very emergence of the human imagination.  It is a priceless treasure.  And it is irreplaceable.

    But Africa’s rock art is not just about the distant past.  It is about today and tomorrow as well.  Scientists, historians, artists and students must be able to study and understand its significance for decades and centuries to come.

    Africa’s rock art is the common heritage of all Africans and all people.  It is a cultural gift from our ancestors that can bring diverse people together -- with pride and a common commitment to share it and preserve it.

    Yet, today, Africa’s rock art is severely threatened.  Its future is uncertain.  Perhaps the greatest threat is neglect.  A lack of resources, combined with a lack of official interest, has left too many rock art sites unguarded against vandals and thieves.

    It is time for Africa’s leaders to take a new and more active role.  We must save this cultural heritage before it is too late.  Two initiatives are especially critical:  educating our children, and engaging local communities.

    To Africa’s children, I would like to say, “You are the future of Africa.  Study your proud history, and protect Africa’s rock art”.

    I would also like to ask private businesses, foundations and individuals to contribute their expertise and resources.

    We at the United Nations will continue to do our part.

    Finally, I am pleased to join Nelson Mandela in supporting TARA, the Trust for African Rock Art, in its work to preserve this vital cornerstone of our world’s cultural heritage.

    Thank you very much.

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