A distinguished panel at the Sharjah Book Fair leads a discussion on how we can look into the future while preserving our cultural identity and heritage
November 4, 2021: How can we help our children move from the past to the future in a way that they carry their cultural identities and heritage with them? This was the central question at the ‘Past to the Future’ panel session held on Wednesday evening at the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair.
Deliberating on this pertinent question were Anisah Ibrahim Al Saadun, an academic and critic from Bahrain who holds PhD in Arabic language and Arabic literature from University of Jordan; Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, an award-winning author; and Isabelle Leymarie, a writer, musicologist who earned a PhD in ethnomusicology from Columbia University.
Heritage has always been a source of knowledge for many generations but as the world constantly evolves and changes in today’s digital age, these experts like several others wonder how to establish a balance between tradition and innovation. Leymarie referred to her study in music while answering the question: “All the musicians know the importance of roots. The best creators know the past and what was before them. You cannot create something new successfully without knowing its roots, but you should also break through the past to innovate and build something new.”
“We should be aware of our heritage to be able to present it to a child in a simple way. At the same time, we must introduce them to new concepts to avoid being outdated. After all we must look into the future,” said Saadun, stressing the importance of modernising tales on heritage in children’s literature.
The discussion also questioned the pros and cons of the Internet and social media in context of the preservation of culture and heritage. As someone from the audience questioned the dangers of new media and its attempt to undermine traditional music and cultural identity, Saadun underlined, “we cannot escape it, so we must embrace it especially while trying to bring children closer to their heritage and cultural identity.”
Reflecting on the evolution of Kenyan culture and music, Adhiambo Owuor stated that every generation has their own view of what heritage is, and that is what represents the natural progression of our culture. “It is important to remember that today’s children are tomorrow’s preservers and makers of heritage,” added Yvonne.
The Sharjah International Book Fair will be hosting several insightful discussions on a variety of key topics led by authors and experts from the region and around the world until November 13, in Expo Centre Sharjah.