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The Gambia to stage another International Roots Homecoming Festival

Dec 31, 2010, 12:20 PM | Article By: Picture: Aja Fatou Mass Jobe

Preparations are in high gear to host the International Roots Festival, which is to kick start from 4 to 10 February 2011.

This year’s festival is expected to bring visitors from the African Diaspora and participants from other countries.

Speaking at a press conference held at the National Mesium last Tuesday, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture, said as the Gambia is poised to celebrate another International Roots Homecoming Festival. “It is my singular honour as Minister entrusted with the portfolio of Tourism and Culture spearhead efforts geared towards the successful hosting of the 10th Edition of the International Roots Festival.

Fatou Mass Jobe added that this biennial festival, which has been conceived to promote cultural tourism and attract visitors from the African Diaspora and other international participants, is already a well recognised event, and features prominently in the culture of the smiling coast.

Apart from being a celebration of the return of long lost brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, and between Africans on the continent, the International Roots Festival has the potential to foster understanding between people of diverse cultural orientations, and also engender international peace and understanding.

According to Madam Fatou Mass Jobe, this tenth edition, which is slated from the 4-10 February 2011, has therefore adopted as the theme, ‘Celebrating African Unity’.

She said the festival would also accord the esteemed participants the golden opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Gambian people, and would expose them to the unity in diversity of Gambian culture as well as the wonderful attractions of the smiling coast.

Among the main highlights of the festival will be the official opening ceremony and carnival that will take place at the July 22 Squar in Banjul as well as the pilgrimage to Albreda and Juffureh, where festival participants will experience the Roots heritage trial that entails visits to the heritage sites of Juffureh, Albreda and James Island, a world heritage site.

There will also be the Futampaf African rites of passage ceremony that will take place in Kanilai.

Towards this end, a National Organising Committee and various sub-committees have been established, comprising public and private sector operatives, under the stewardship of the minister for Tourism and Culture, who and her team are currently working very hard to put all logistics in place for a successful festival.

Other speakers during conference included Bala Saho, Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture, Amadou Touray, a board member, and Fatou Drammeh. The vote of thanks was delivered by Hasoum Ceesay.

In another development, the Gambia music carnival 2010 - 2011 is to be held at the Dream Park, Senegambia, on New Year’s Eve.

Organised by Alagie’s Promotions in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the event is meant to promote Gambian musicians in live band performances.

It is a competition to determine the Best Gambian male artiste, Best female artiste, and Best cultural group of the event.

A cash prize of D10,000 will be given to each of the winners.