By: Yunus S. Saliu
Thousands of people over the weekend converged on the Kombo South coastal settlement of Sanyang for the second edition of the village’s annual International Cultural Festival that explores the cultural diversity that make up the very fabric of the Gambian society.
The four-day fiesta, on the theme; “exploring wisdom in our diverse cultures and tradition for development”, was supported by the culture-loving president of the Republic, the Banjul Breweries Limited and the Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC). It seeks to showcase the cultural heritage of the community, while fostering unity among the different tribes.
Speaking at the event, the director general of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Baba Ceesay, said the initiative has proved to be one of the most interesting and regular community festivals in the country. What started as a small initiative by the youths in the community, according to Ceesay, has now turned out to be a major event. He praised the youths for their foresight, acknowledging that the success of the event was largely due to their total dedication and commitment.
Speaking of the potentials of this community initiative, the NCAC boss said the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and his institution are optimistic that it has a lot to offer. “Indeed, the festival is very important as it is one way of not only showcasing the heritage of Sanyang community to the younger generation or the rest of the country, but it is also a way of preserving these ancient rites of the settlement,” he remarked,
DG Ceesay described the theme as very relevant, given the fact that African wisdom mainly lies in its culture and traditions. He further remarked that exploring this wisdom for the betterment of the Gambian communities is in line with government’s development aspirations and the ideals of President Jammeh, who is the grand patron of culture.
For the Kombo South National Assembly member, Hon. Abdou Kolley, promoting and sustaining democracy, human dignity, social justice and pluralism with full respect for diversity within and among the various tribes is key in any social development. He also noted that the Gambia government has been vigorously promoting the nation’s culture and tradition through platforms like the International Roots Festival and “Futampaf” – the passage of rites to manhood – in Kanilai.
The governor of the region, Lamin Sanneh, expressed his profound gratitude to the youths and the elders of Sanyang for the initiative. He said the significance of the event cannot be less underscored, given that culture is a way of life that identifies how people live and govern themselves. “Sanyang is a home of culture and tradition,” the governor acknowledged, while calling on the organisers to sustain the event.
The opening ceremony was also graced by National Assembly members, ward councilors, Alkalolou, seyfolou, venerable religious leaders, scores of tourists, as well as both local and international media.