Culture is a priority of Gov’t, says Info Minister

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Demba Ali Jawo, has said the government of President Adama Barrow has set eyes on culture as one of its key priorities.

He made this statement in a two-day National Stakeholders Forum on a new cultural policy for the Gambia, which wrapped up at the Paradise Suites Hotel on Saturday 8 July 2017.

The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) received assistance from UNESCO under the participation Programme (2016-2017) adopted in 1988 to initiate a process to review and reposition The Gambia’s Cultural Policy which is dire need of introspection and update.

‘’Culture is a priority of the Government of His Excellency President Adama Barrow,’’ Minister Jawo said.

In all the plans of the government such as job creation, sustained economic growth and national reconciliation, culture has a limitless and central role, he emphasised.

Minister Jawo, who spoke at the function on behalf of the Tourism and Culture Minister, said the forum was held to develop a new and more proactive cultural policy for The Gambia.

He encouraged all stakeholders to partake in and contribute meaningfully to the process.

‘’I should urge all of you to give this meeting its due consideration and partake in it to the fullest so that the contribution of each and every sub-sector of culture and arts you represent will have its ideas reflected,’’ he said.

“Of course,” he went on, “we as a government will also have our input into the draft, as government is a major stakeholder, but be rest assured that the interest of all players in the sector will be respected and upheld.”

Mr Jawo thanked UNESCO and commended the Director General of NCAC and his team for their proactive stance on having a new policy for the sector.

‘’My sincere thanks go to UNESCO through its national commission in Banjul for the funding and to all the stakeholders who have in one way or another responded to our call for contributions,’’ he said, adding that it was not the first time that UNESCO had intervened in the quest to review and renew The Gambia’s cultural policy.

‘’In 2009,UNESCO through its National Commission supported a similar gathering which produced a lot of ideas towards enunciating a new policy but the lack of political will at the time made sure that the recommendations did not see the light of the day,’’ the information Minister noted.

In his remarks on the occasion, the Chairman of NCAC board, Mr Oreme Joiner, said he has always prioritised action plans to regenerate and reposition the cultural policy of The Gambia.

‘’Since I assumed duties as chairman of the NCAC, I have always prioritised, planned or strategised action plans for cultural regeneration and repositioning,’’ he said, adding that a robust cultural policy together with an up-to-date legal framework and strengthened NCAC will form the bedrock for the rise of the sector to higher heights and also put the cultural sector on a sound footing.

Mr Joiner paid special homage to Dr George Abungu, the consultant from Kenya who is in The Gambia to work with the NCAC and all of the stakeholders towards framing a new policy which will guide the activities, plans and proposals in this sector for the coming decades.

The project approved by UNESCO is titled ‘’Strengthening the Legal and Policy Framework for Realizing the Potentials of Culture and the Cultural Industries in National Development”.

 The two-day National Stakeholder Forum brought together representatives of the various stakeholder groupings in a working session to provide direction for the new policy.

The project was implemented through a consultative process with the participation of government agencies and stakeholders outside government, including local communities, civil society and actors in the arts, culture and tourism industries.

Author: Mahamadou Camara
Source: Picture: Minister Jawo with stakeholders at the Paradise Suites Hotel