Mar 5, 2009, 4:30 AM
The first-ever "Jamoral" meeting and festival to be held on Gambian soil took place at the weekend in the village of Bujinga in the Foni Kansala district of the West Coast Region under the distinguished chief patronage of Her Excellency Ajaratou Fatou Asombi Bojang, first mother of The Gambia.
Organised by the three families of Bojang, Manga and Badjan, in a bid to promote unity and cohesion among themselves, the festival brought together regional and municipal representatives from across the country.
Previously held in southern Senegal in order to reaffirm their kinship ties, the festival, according to the organizers, symbolizes the cultural unity in diversity of the Senegambia region.
The three families are believed to have originated from Manding and share the same ancestral lineage, totems and other cultural beliefs.
Speaking on the occasion, President Yahya Jammeh noted that the festival stands out among many others, which are held annually, in that besides the usual cultural displays and manifestations, it seeks to primarily bring together families who by reason of colonial rule and the artificial borders it created, have been divided into two or more countries.
According to President Jammeh, to fully appreciate the significance of the event, "we must remember that clan and lineage relations are the bedrock of the African social set up".
"In Africa, the family and lineage are the anchors we rest on in times of turbulence and need. It is a sort of a safety net, a social security outfit which assures us of support and security," he said, describing the family as the most basic unit of the African society.
He noted that "when we seek to foster unity, peace and understanding in our societies and communities, we should start from the family. When we are able to bring families together and discuss their commonalities and other shared virtues and customs, we are right on track in our quest for a peaceful environment," he added.
The Gambian leader stated that events such as this should teach a lesson or two to those who are serious about sub-regional, regional and continental integration and cooperation.
"The usual thing is to attempt to bring about closer cooperation among countries and regions starting from the bigger picture; this seems like a false start," he said, adding that the prudent thing to do is to start by fostering oneness among the most basic unit of our societies, clans and lineages, and then move up from there.
"In such events as this one, we are also making a loud and unequivocal statement that the African view of the clan and relations is a far cry from those of the West," Jammeh stated.
He further stated that the event should task all Gambians to evaluate the role that family lineages and ties can play in fostering peace, fighting poverty and unemployment and ensuring a healthy and happy populace.
Mrs Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture, in her statement underscored the significance of the festival.
According to her, the festival is a showcase of not only the diverse cultural norms of the Senegambia region, but indeed that of the entire West African sub-region.
Also speaking on the occasion was Lamin Sanneh, Governor of the West Coast Region, who described the organization of the festival as not only timely, but as adequately necessary since societies are dynamic and complex.
While commending the first mother of the nation, Aja Fatou Asombi Bojang, and the Gambian leader for making the festival a success, Governor Sanneh underscored the need for people to appreciate the dynamism of our societies, especially our traditional norms and values.
Others speakers included the alkalo of Bujinga, Baba Bojang, and Pa Jambo Bojang.