Sep 19, 2012, 10:48 AM
Speaking at the press briefing held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, Modou Joof, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, said the 11th edition of the International Roots Homecoming Festival is scheduled to take place from 9 to 17 May 2014 in The Gambia.
“We believe that through culture we can unite Africans in the Diaspora,” PS Joof said, calling on Africans both at home and abroad to uphold and value their culture.
He said the theme of the 11th edition is ‘Celebrating unity through culture’. The festival is expected to attract over 200 participants across the world.
According to him, on 9 May they will welcome a lot of guests from all over the world to celebrate the unique culture in the Smiling Coast of Africa.
Adama Njie, director of Marketing, Gambia Tourism Board, called on everyone to work towards the success of the roots festival.
Chief Superintendent of Police, Ebrima Jabang, said there will be enough security in place, while calling on the public to come in their large numbers to celebrate the festival.
“All security arrangements are in place so people can come in their large numbers, especially for the musical jamboree, at the Independence Stadium,” he added.
Captain Seedia Danso, Officer Commanding Tourists Security Unit, said there could not be any meaningful development without security.
“We are ready to protect our guests to enjoy the hospitality in a peaceful atmosphere and we assure everyone that everything is in place for security to protect all those who come to grace the festival,” he said.
According to tourism officials, this year’s activities include an African king and queen banquet, a carnival procession of masquerades and cultural groups, and a masquerade ball.
‘Futampaf’ (rites of passage) in Kanilai village, visit to Kunta Kinteh Island (James Island), the ancestral homestead of Kunta Kinteh and other historic and important sites, including the slavery museum.
This will be followed by a symposium, a visit to Makasutu culture forest and a traditional boat racing.
Organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the festival, which began in 2003, serves as a connecting point for Africans and those in the Diaspora.
It is also a period in which people reflect on the agony slaves went through during the triangular slave trade, in which millions of Africans were uprooted from Africa and taken to the ‘New World’ via the Atlantic Ocean. Many never made it to the plantation sites of the ‘New World’, as a lot perished across the seas.
“The roots programmes are designed to further enlighten people culturally about the historic significance The Gambia bears, and the rich ethical cultures that prevail in The Gambia, which will be introduced to ‘pilgrims’ as they integrate with various tribal groups in the villages throughout several regions in the country,” stated the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Embracing Gambian culture, customs and values, history and traditions, strengthens and reaffirms one’s faith in African cultural heritage, it added.