Feb 4, 2016, 11:02 AM
It was the 4th edition and brought participants from Guinea Bissau, Cassamance, Senegal and The Gambia, organised under the auspicious of KAKANDANG PULLUND Society.
According to the organizers, mindful that Manjago cultural norms and values are diminishing unabated, Manjagoes within the Senegambia region in 2011 came up with the initiative to revive them through organising an annual regional Manjago cultural festival where cultural diets, Manjago origins, norms and values are unveiled.
Speaking at the festival, Dodou Gomez, President of KAKANDANG PULLUND Society, expressed pleasure to welcome heads of delegation and their delegates from various communities within the sub- region.
He acknowledged and valued in no small measure their joint commitment in the crusade to revive the Manjago cultural norms and values that are diminishing.
The campaign was launched in 2011, and since then there has been tremendous commitment toward the realization of the dream, he said.
“It is in this regard that I want to place on record my sincere appreciation to those who have been with us since the beginning of this noble venture,” Mr Gomez said.
He added that the theme for this year’s regional Manjago cultural festival is: “Linking indigenous culture and wellbeing”.
He explained that the word culture carries many different connotations, but could simply be defined as those “customary beliefs and values that ethnic, religious and social groups transmit fairly unchanged from generation to generation”.
According to Mr Gomez, it was disheartening to note that these cultures and traditions have been considered by many in the present generation as old-fashioned, dirty, primitive and negative, and that they hold back progress in nation-building and, as a result, should completely be forgotten and new ways of life be adopted.
However, he went on, those with this misconception completely lose track that cultures and traditions help them develop and mould their attitudes and characters to be productive, useful, and purposely progressive lives.
“As a result of cultural indoctrination, many of us have rejected immoral living, corruption, laziness and conning,” he said.
He also stated that various studies have shown that the well-being of a people is enhanced when they maintain their indigenous culture.
Furthermore, a growing body of empirical evidence points to a range of beneficial impacts associated with maintaining a strong affinity with traditional cultures, ranging from self-discipline, respect for elders, prolong life expectancy rate, to abstinence from drugs and alcohol, to name a few.
He said cultural affinity or engagement acts as a protective factor against the problems of trauma associated with historical loss, discrimination, suicide and substance abuse (notably alcohol abuse) that beset many communities and populations at large.
Mr Gomez said cultural affinity promotes self-esteem, and that cultural identity combined with high self-esteem is a protective factor against alcohol and substance abuse.
It was important to note with great emphasis that when indigenous cultural threads that joins the past and present are cut, the future is lost, and individuals lose a sense of control over their future outcomes, he added.
He said without culture and traditions, ones memory is equal to having no education.
Mr Gomez thanked President Yahya Jammeh for the support toward the promotion and participation in cultural activities in The Gambia.
He values cultures and oraganizes the cultural jamborees annually, where delegates are drawn from all corner of Africa and the Diaspora, Gomez went on.
He implored all delegates to know that they all share a great responsibility for providing a dignified and open access to culture for future generations.
“We should be mindful of blending our culture with other cultures, for it has the potential of killing off our culture,” he warned.
“The challenge is to preserve our culture by practising and making it part of our lives. We must make an effort to sustain our culture and not to depend on others”.