May 5, 2017, 10:46 AM
Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, last Friday officially opened the Back To Africa Festival at a ceremony held at the village of Batokunku.
The festival, which started from 20 to 25 January, 2012 brought different traditional groups in the country as well as international musicians from the UK.
In her opening statement, Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie said: “At the outset, I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of His Excellency, The President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, to welcome all of you to The Gambia, the smiling coast of Africa.
“It is indeed a great pleasure for Gambians to welcome our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora and to say to you all that it is good to see you return home for a visit.”
According to the Tourism Minister, this is an indisputable historical fact that Africans as a resilient people ‘have weathered all storms and have remained strong while recognizing the umbilical bonds that bind Africans on the continent with those in the Diaspora.”
Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie added that in spite of the negative effects of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism on Africa and her peoples, Africans have proven resilient to all these vices and have emerged strong as ever.
Madam Jobe-Njie explained that The Gambia has institutionalised two major international festivals that are held here on a biennial basis, i.e. the International Roots Festival under the purview of her Ministry and the Kanilai International Festival, hosted by the Gambian leader at his home village of Kanilai.
She added: “I wish to request Mr Frasser and indeed all your collaborators including our esteemed brothers and sisters from the Diaspora here present to work with me and my Ministry for the promotion, publicity and development of the two festivals that I have mentioned, so that as many of our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora including artists will participate in the subsequent editions.”
Turning to the initiator and organizer of the festival, Madam Jobe-Njie thanked Mr Neil Fraser, aka MAD Professor, for having the wisdom and courage to come up with the brilliant idea of organizing the Back To Africa Festival in the village of Batokunku.