Kilifi’s Gede Ruins set to join Unesco’s world heritage sites

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022 07:00 | By

Plans are underway to list the iconic Gede Ruins in Kilifi county (pictured) as a World Heritage Site, under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Kenya National Commission for Unesco secretary-general Dr Evangeline Njoka says the site has been considered for prestigious recognition after meeting key cultural and natural criteria developed by Unesco for heritage sites.

She said they are working closely with Unesco on the process before the official announcement. She added that the move would cement the 600-year-old Swahili settlement ruins as a major tourist destination.

The ruins trace their origin to the 12th Century, when residents deserted their homesteads due to constant battles between Mombasa and Malindi Arab rulers, besides attacks by Orma community warriors.

Tentative list

Gede Ruins has been on a tentative list of areas the country proposed to Unesco for the listing. Others include cultural and natural landmarks that Unesco deems worthy of preservation under World Heritage Sites.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites outlined five steps for qualification under World Heritage Sites. They include sites and monuments suggested by State parties.

The centre reviews the nomination file before forwarding it to advisory bodies comprising representatives of the World Heritage Convention, the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the World Conservation Union and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property for evaluation and consideration.

The World Heritage Committee looks into the list and makes a final decision on the proposed sites and monuments.

Njoka said Gede ruins have met most of the stipulated criteria, adding that her commission and Kenya National Museums of Kenya have presented a strong case for it. “We have done a lot of paperwork to ensure the archaeological site, which carries the rich history of our coastal communities, is enlisted as the latest world heritage site,” she said.

Kenya has four listed cultural sites, namely Lamu Old town, Fort Jesus, Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests and Thimlich Ohinga archaeological site; and three natural sites; Mount Kenya National Park, Lake Turkana National Park and Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita).

More on News