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US Embassy funds Lovell Square Fort renovation

Jan 13, 2011, 1:24 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

In a bid to preserve the country’s cultural heritage, the US Government through its diplomatic mission has funded the renovation of the Lovell Square Fort in Banjul.

The renovation, which officially started yesterday after a brief ceremony held at the site by officials of the US Embassy in Banjul, will cost US$16,540.

Funded through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), the project is contracted to the Architectural Draughts Men and Technicians Association, who secured funding from the embassy.

Tula Orum, Public Affairs Officer at the embassy, who represented the US ambassador at the ceremony, said since its creation by the US Congress, the AFCP has provided financial support to more than 640 cultural preservation projects in more than 100 countries.

According to Ms. Orum, the AFCP is in its tenth year, and represents a contribution of nearly US$26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritages worldwide.

“More importantly, it shows the depth of the USA’s respect for the cultural heritage of other countries,” she stated.

The fund, she added, supports a wide range of projects to preserve cultural heritage, such as the restoration of historic buildings, assessment and conservation of museum collections, archaeological site preservation, documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques, improved storage conditions for archives and manuscripts and documentation of indigenous languages.

Tula Orum revealed that every year, the people of the US gather money to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the world, and that Banjul is lucky to get the funds to execute the project.

She noted that the ceremony is the beginning of the partnership, urging for closer partnership with the association, the Banjul City Council and the National Centre for Arts and Culture.

“It’s your own history and the renovation of this fort will be here for generations yet unborn to remember and enjoy,” she noted. 

Also speaking at the gathering was the Lord Mayor of Banjul, Hon. Samba Faal, who said development in any form needs joint partnership, adding that the funding provided by the United States government through it embassy will help a great deal in preserving the rich cultural heritage of the capital city.

Mayor Faal commended the US government for funding the project, and the Association for the brilliant idea.

“The idea as we all know started with older generation, then to younger generation,” Faal added.

The project, he noted, is about partnership, and the Banjul City Council is a social service delivery institution and not a commercial institution.

He urged the community to take ownership of the fort, and not to allow anyone to use it as a dumping ground, adding that the place belongs to them, and it is their mandate to preserve it.

Michael E.A Campbell, President of the Association,hailed the efforts of the US Embassy in their quest to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Gambia.

He gave a rundown of the association, which he said was established in May 2009 with the ultimate objective of contributing towards national development through sharing of architectural skills, experience and knowledge.

Nana Grey Johnson, a journalist and historian, who is also the initiator, gave a brief history of Fort Lovell, which he said was erected by Captain Commander Lovell, a French captain of a ship “La pore de dese”, who was brought to build Fort Lovell.

The captain, Nana Grey Johnson went on, was responding to a call by Governor Ramdol, who needed support to protect Bathurst, especially Melvin Town, where Fort Lovell was built.

The veteran journalist went on to give a comprehensive history of Fort Lovell and the composition of Banjul.

Baba Ceesay, Director of Cultural Heritage at the National Council for Arts and Culture, underscored the numerous support his office has received from the US embassy over the years.