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NCAC Hosts Gambia-Senegal Kankurang Joint Steering Committee Meeting

Aug 28, 2009, 6:10 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah and Juliet Shardlow

The National Centre for Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, yesterday hosted the joint steering committee meeting between the Gambia and Senegal, at Baobab Hotel.

The meeting brought together experts and stakeholders from Senegal and the Gambia, aimed at discussing, among other things, about UNESCO Kankurang intiative.

The Permanent Secretary at Ministery of Tourism and Culture, Kaliba Senghore, who stood in for the Minister, noted that the importance of the joint steering committee meeting between Senegal and the Gambia cannot be over-emphasised. He said by establishing Kankurang centres cum museums in the two countries, the UNESCO funded project will safeguard the Kankurang area.

In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the Kankurang as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity, adding that the Kangkurang has fulfilled all the six criteria laid down by the organisation. These criteria proclaim forms of popular or traditional expression as masterpieces of the world's oral and intangible cultural heritage.

On the criteria, PS Senghore stated "they must possess outstanding values of the human creative genius, that are rooted in the cultural tradition or cultural history of the community concerned, that they play a role as a means of affirming the cultural identity of the community concerned, that they are distinguished by excellence in the application of skills and technical qualities displayed, that they constitute a unique testimony of eleven cultural traditions, and that they are threatened with disappearance due to insufficient means for safeguarding or due to the process of rapid change".

Mr. Senghore further noted that the Kankurang tradition is akin to both the Gambia and Senegal, saying that the establishment of a joint steering committee is imperative, considering the similarities between the two countries.

According to him, for the two countries to work together is significant, considering the common historical, cultural and social relationship between the Gambia and Senegal.

But he said "since the Kankurang tradition exists in some communities in our two countries, and are known and recognised nationally in both countries because of their outstanding cultural values." 

"It is but logical that the two countries work together in this process to share expertise and knowledge in the formulation of strategies and the adoption of measures that are safeguarding tradition and the establishment of the Kangkurang centres, cum museums in the two countries," he said.

He is of the view that at the end of the meeting, both sides would agree on some common strategies and measures that would contribute to the safeguarding of Kangkurang tradition in both Senegal and the Gambia.

For his part, the Director-General of the National Centre of Arts and Culture, Momodou C Joof, in his opening statement, spoke at length about the importance of the meeting.

He noted that the Kangkurang project is sponsored by UNESCO, geared towards preserving our cultural heritage for the future generations yet unborn.

The NCAC boss also noted that the Kangkurang project would go a long way towards preserving the Senegambian culture. He said it also helped in the protection and regeneration of associated sacred forests and sources of materials for Kangkurang costumes.

According to him, the proposed site of the Gambia Kangkurang centre is located in Janjanbureh (Tinyasita), adding that this site is classified by UNESCO as a cultural heritage centre.

The meeting was graced by Honorable Fodey Manka, the NAM for Janjanbureh, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Kangkurang Steering Committee.