National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), in collaboration with UNESCO,
recently started a five-day workshop to review and update the management plan
of the Stone Circles of the Senegambia.
The opening ceremony held at the National Museum premises in Banjul was witnessed by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, heritage experts from Senegal and participants from both The Gambia and Senegal.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Baba Ceesay, director general of NCAC, said the workshop was a manifestation of the inalienable links that bind the two countries, Gambia and Senegal, and the Stone Circles are one such phenomenon.
He said the five-day workshop was the subject of the world heritage convention, which recognises monuments and sites of outstanding universal significance, and places them in the prestigious world heritage list.
He added that the Stone Circles were inscribed in the list in 2006, with two sites from Senegal (Wanar, Sine Ngayen) and two from Gambia (Wassu, Kerr Batch).
For a site to be inscribed in the list, it must fulfill one or more of ten criteria established by the world heritage operational guidelines, including the test of authenticity and integrity, which Ceesay said had been fulfilled by the two countries.
“The main objective of the workshop is to review the old plan, it’s successes and failures, and craft a new plan in the light of new developments.”
Declaring the workshop open, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Hamat Bah, said now that the 2005-2009 management plan is expired, a new one is long overdue, and this was to kick-start the consultative processes needed to have a new management plan for the sites.
He said one of the non-negotiable conditions is that all UNESCO world heritage sites have to fulfill periodically an updated management plan, which would show how the site would be managed.
It also to show how communities would be involved in the management and conservation of the site, and what is the role of government in the management of the sites.
Minster Bah added that the project is to be implemented in two phases, adding that the first phase is the workshop in Banjul and the second phase will take the form of a workshop in Dakar, in April 2017 where the features and contents of the plan will be finalised.
Abdul Aziz Guisse, current director of the Department of Cultural Heritage in Senegal, thanked the Minister and NCAC for cooperating with them in the project.
He said the four sites were selected due to the fact that they are the most significant sites for both countries, while thanking UNESCO for involving the communities in the process.