Jun 3, 2009, 6:54 AM
Speaking to journalists after meeting the elders, the Culture and Tourism Minister said the visit was held to meet elders of Kanilai and the local organizing committee for the Futaampaf, which is part of the activities of the Roots Homecoming Festival.
She added that it is a tradition because for every festival they would take cola nut to them and also explain to them about the programme activity.
She said they also told them that this year’s festival will be different from all the other roots homecoming festivals as they are well prepared to promote it across nations and continents.
The Culture and Tourism Minister further informed journalists that this year they are expecting over 400 participants to attend the festival, adding that the programme would be special because through The Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project of the World Bank, some funds were allocated to them to market the festival.
“We were able to do some tours to New York, Atlanta, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and even Senegal,” Madam Jobe-Njie said. “We were selling the Roots to the extent that we have had a group coming from the US doing twin destination. They will attend a programme in Senegal and later come to The Gambia.”
She also disclosed to journalists that they have appointed promoters of the festival and one of those promoters has contacted musicians like Sizwla, Mutabaruka, Chaichulo and Quiness, who are all expected to participate for a fund-raising concert at the Independence Stadium and those artistes will be joined by Gambian artistes.
She said a symposium will also be part of the activities as they are also going to bring the traditional board trade which will be funded by The Gambia Ports Authority at the GPA Ward.
“We will have series of rehearsals and we will provide them with all the materials,” she stated further. “We will also have a team that will ensure the cultural carnival does not last for more than two hours so that we will leave the opening ceremony on time and prepare ourselves to go to the stadium.”
She said that in terms of logistics, the Gambia Hotel Association is part of the national organizing committee and the Trade and Tours of The Gambia are also part of the national organizing committee, and each of them will be responsible for taking activities.
Some of the places they would use, with respect to logistics, are Djeliba Hotel, Kairaba Beach Hotel and Senegambia Beach Hotel, she said.
She said from the UK, they are working with Gambia Bird, which will be the carrier for those coming from the UK, adding that Nigerian television firm and other interested parties will take part in the mega festival.
Madam Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie thanked the Gambian leader for his support, especially in promoting culture, saying the President is in fact the chief patron of the event.
Minister Jobe-Njie told journalists that the Roots Homecoming Festival is a call for action for people all over the world to actually embrace their ancestral identity, through the weeklong programme of an ultimate experience engendered by the cultural tourism of The Gambia.
Tourism and Culture Permanent Secretary Modou Joof and the Kanilai Alkalo also spoke at the briefing on the upcoming roots festival.