As globalization and new technology threaten many ancient traditions, three former Rolex Laureates in Central and South Africa are valiantly campaigning to preserve cultural and agricultural heritage for future generations.

Culture comes home

Cristina Bubba Zamora’s campaign to recover Bolivia’s sacred textiles has transformed her into an international champion for the protection of cultural heritage, helping Bolivian officials track down plundered items and lobbying foreign governments to strengthen their protection of cultural property rights.

Withstanding climate change

Many varieties of grains such as quinoa (top four rows) and cañihua (bottom row) are among the native plants whose cultivation is being promoted by Gomel Apaza to enhance agrobiodiversity. Peruvian Altiplano, Peru 2006©Rolex Awards/Xavier Lecoultre

Climate change is making people see the value of biodiversity, according to Zenón Gomel Apaza, Peruvian Associate Laureate of the 2006 Rolex Awards. “While the modern model is collapsing, people using traditional farming methods won’t go hungry. When the weather is good, there’s good production. When the climate is bad, there is less production. But there is still production.

Reviving rhythms

Mexico has a strong, rich musical tradition. Courtesy of Eduardo Llerenas

Music has taken 1981 Rolex Laureate Eduardo Llerenas into small villages in many countries where ordinary people make extraordinary sounds, and he has brought those rhythms back for the rest of the world to enjoy. This major contribution to cultural heritage began simply in his native Mexico where, in 1968, Llerenas started to record the music that had him in its grip.

Learn more about Cristina Bubba ZamoraLearn more about Zenón Porfidio Gomel ApazaLearn more about Eduardo Llerenas

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