A renowned Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer-Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people’. It is an undeniable fact that cultural festivals today are considered to contribute significantly to the cultural and economic development of any nation. Cultural festivals also have major impact on the development of cultural tourism to the host communities.
The recent presentation of cheques by NCAC and MoTC to local fest organisers in 13 communities goes to show the importance they attach in promoting cultural diversity.
We therefore thanked the both institutions for their foresight in supporting and promoting the country’s cultural heritage on the international scene.
The hosting of cultural fests are often developed to serve as a boost to nation’s tourism and economic opportunities addition to social and cultural benefits. As rightly stated by DG Ceesay some festivals are occasions for joy and merriment, while others are of a spiritual and contemplative nature- calling for prayers to assuage a common mishap such as shortage of rain. But what is that festivals provide a perfect platform for people to relieve themselves from the tensions and drudgery of everyday life.
Suffice it to state that at the dawn of Independence in 1965, there was no Ministry in charge of cultural affairs until in 1973/74 that the tangible and intangible aspects of The Gambia’s cultural heritage were placed under the offices of the Vice President and the Minister for Education respectively. Now, cultural matters fall under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture with the professional support of the National Center for Arts and Culture.
It was in 1988 when the government adopted a Cultural Policy which calls for the organization of periodic cultural festivals to sustain and encourage the development of the performing arts as the policy paper recognized the potentials of festivals in reinforcing peoples’ identity while extolling and reaffirming the values of society as well as strengthening the fraternal bonds that bind its members.
“I believe in traditions; I believe in the idea of things being passed between generations and the slow transmission of cultural values through tradition.”