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Sensitisation of School children on kankurang traditions underway in Janjangbureh

Mar 19, 2010, 1:37 PM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah in CRR

The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), in collaboration with UNESCO through its regional office in Dakar on Tuesday 16th March started a three-day sensitisation workshop on Kankurang traditions for Armitage Senior Secondary, and the upper basic and lower basic schools in Janjanbureh, CRR south.

The forum which targets 150 school children is part of a broader strategy, aimed at reviving the Kankurang tradition in the Senegambia region.

Speaking at the ceremony held at the Armitage School Library, the Minister of Tourism and Culture Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie stated that the Kankurang rites of  the Mandinka is one of  forty three cultural expressions and spaces worldwide that's singled out  by UNESCO in 2005 as Masterpieces of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity that deserves preservation for posterity.

According to her, the Kankurang tradition which is a trans-border phenomenon is practised in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau, and is a very rich cultural expression that needs to be safeguarded for the benefit of the local communities and humanity in general. The location of a Kankurang Centre in Janjanbureh is not far-fetched as Janjanbureh is undoubtedly a citadel of the Kankurang tradition, she added.

Hon. Jobe-Njie further urged the participants to utilise the opportunity offered to them to learn about the origins, meanings, historical and cultural significance of the tradition and the importance of preserving it in the face of rapid urbanisation and modernisation. She noted that it is very important for the school children to be taught the cultural norms and values of Gambian society to strengthen their sense of identity, and enable them to pass on positive aspects of their traditions to the coming generations.

For his part, the Governor of CRR Ganjie Touray stated that in proclaiming the Kankurang a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity UNESCO has demonstrated its recognition of the importance of the tradition and the need for its safeguard. The establishment of a Kankurang Centre in Janjanbureh will therefore provide a focal point for research, information dissemination and preservation of the tradition in the form of a museum cum education centre that could also be useful to the tourism sector.

Governor Touray further highlighted the link with the conservation of the natural environment which provides the costume for the Kankurang masquerade, as well as the space for practising the associated rituals.

The workshop is certainly an appropriate forum for sensitising children and adults on this important cultural expression of the Senegambia, whose merits are recognised worldwide.

The opening ceremony, which was presided over by the Director General of the NCAC, Momodou Joof, was attended by among others the Chief of Janjanbureh Seyfo Bakary Jam Jawo, the NAM for Janjanbureh Hon. Foday Jibani Manka, the newly appointed Deputy Governor of CRR, Momodou Bah and the Director of Cultural Heritage at the NCAC Baba Ceesay, who doubles as Coordinator of the UNESCO-Gambia Kankurang project.