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Nigerian Diplomat Gives Gambians Thumbs Up

Jun 17, 2008, 5:51 AM | Article By: By Momodou Justice Darboe

As Francis Duru Ends Visit to Banjul

The Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, H.E. (Mrs.) Esther John Audu, has acknowledged that the people of The Gambia are a very resourceful people when it comes to creative arts, adding that the recent Roots Homecoming Festival has served as an extremely vital platform for showcasing this.

Speaking yesterday at her Garba Jahumpa Road offices during a courtesy visit on her by Francis Duru and executive members of Chartered House Production and Tradeplus, H.E. Audu admitted that The Gambia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have lots of similarities in terms of culture and that the two polities stand to share a lot and benefit more from each other by forming and consolidating smart partnerships and fruitful collaborations. " We are very much excited by the visit of Francis to The Gambia. He is here to promote the Nigerian culture, my own culture. He is representing Nigerian culture and I believe his presence will enable many people, especially those who want to be like him, to learn from him," she added.

Meanwhile, the visit of Francis Duru to The Gambia heralds the coming of some hot Nigerian actors to the country in July. Commenting on the subsequent visits of other notable Nigerian actors to the Smiling Coast as part of the activities marking the July 22 Revolution, the Nigerian diplomat explained: " July 22 is a day for us all to celebrate. Nigerians are proud to be part of the occasion and Nigerians listening to me will know that Gambia is a peaceful place, security ensured."

She gave the assurance that her country hopes to expand their scope of cooperation with Gambia from legal and heath sectors to the movie industry.

During his discussion with High Commissioner Audu, Francis Duru posited that he was in Gambia as a representative of Nollywood. He added that the ultimate aim of his visit was to prepare the ground for the arrivals of Aki & Pawpaw, Osufeson or Mama G and Nkem Owoh; icons in Nollywood.

According to Mr Duru, the stance of Nigeria in the sub-region is in line with Ecowas objective of fostering sub-regional integration.

"We in the Nollywood saw the absolute need to build capacities, expand the entertainment industry, foster good trade links and social cohesion," he added.

Head of Chancery at the Nigerian High Commission, Mr. Obase Okongor, recalled that Nigeria and Gambia have had cultural exchanges for a long time now and expressed the conviction that the movie industry will move the relationship to another level.

Dr. Samuel Wilcox of Chartered House Productions thanked the Nigerian High Commissioner for taking time out of 'her busy schedule' despite the short notice.

Meanwhile, Francis Duru, who arrived in Banjul on Saturday, is expected to leave Banjul today. During his three-day visit to Banjul, he paid courtesy calls on the Secretary of State for Information, Comium, among other engagements.

See our subsequent editions for more on Francis' visit.