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In Memoriam: UNESCO pays tribute to Professor Dawson Munjeri

Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 16:00
access_time 3 min read

It is with deep sadness that UNESCO has learned of Professor Dawson Munjeri's death. He passed away at his home in Helensvale, Harare, on 29 April 2024. Professor Munjeri was an eminent scholar and ardent defender of the World Heritage of Africa and beyond.

Professor Dawson Munjeri was a towering figure in the realm of heritage preservation, a guiding light of cultural stewardship in Africa. His enduring legacy, forged through decades of unwavering commitment to safeguarding Zimbabwe's and Africa's diverse heritage, and has left an indelible imprint on World Heritage and the UNESCO community. His immense contribution led to the creation of the African World Heritage Fund, the recognition of more African sites as World Heritage sites, and the recent UNESCO Strategy for World Heritage in Africa

Born on 11 July 1949, Professor Munjeri's lifelong commitment to preserving Zimbabwe's cultural heritage began at an early age, fueled by a passion for history and a profound reverence for the past. His journey led him to become a leading authority on Zimbabwean heritage, renowned for his scholarly rigor and unwavering advocacy.

Dawson Munjeri held a degree in History and African Language from the University of Zimbabwe and a Diploma in Information Systems from the University of Wales. From 1983 onward, as director and manager of the UNESCO World Heritage site Great Zimbabwe National Monument, he played a pivotal role in the inscription of that site on the World Heritage List in 1986, before becoming the head of the National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe. It was in this capacity that he received the first meeting on the Global Strategy for Harare in 1995, and he also hosted the international conference on authenticity and integrity in the African context in 2000.

He has been a member of ICOMOS since 1993 and served as  Vice-President from 1999 to 2003. In this context, he contributed to the organization of the first ICOMOS General Assembly in Africa at Victoria Falls in 2003. He also carried out several evaluations of nomination dossiers for ICOMOS.

Dawson Munjeri was a member of the Zimbabwean Delegation to the World Heritage Committee from 1997 to 2003 and served as Vice President and Rapporteur at the 24th session of the Committee in Cairns (Australia) in 2000. He contributed to reviewing the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention from 2000 to 2004 and to draft the text of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. He is the author of numerous publications on oral history, intangible heritage, authenticity in the context of World Heritage and cultural landscapes, as well as a doctoral thesis on international laws governing the protection of heritage.

Beginning in 2002, he was the Deputy Permanent Delegate of Zimbabwe to UNESCO for several years, during his tireless commitment was to put Africa in the right position regarding the 1972 World Heritage Convention. This is why, following the adoption of UNESCO Strategy on Priority Africa in 2021, he accepted to coordinate the development of the Strategy for World Heritage in Africa (2022–2029) as a tool to implement the targets of the UNESCO Priority Africa.

More than his contributions to shaping national and international policies for safeguarding cultural heritage in Africa, Professor Munjeri's enduring legacy will be his role as a mentor and beacon of inspiration to countless African professionals. He nurtured a new generation of heritage professionals, instilling in them the profound importance of educating, preserving, and promoting our shared cultural legacy.

UNESCO extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Professor Dawson Munjeri, he was a dedicated father and proud grandfather. We will forever cherish the dedication, compassion, and humanism that defined him throughout his life.

Tuesday, 7 May 2024 at 16:00
access_time 3 min read
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