The training is one of the activities of the culture project funded under the UNESCO Participation Programme 2020 – 2021 and is being implemented by the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO and the NCAC. The Direction du Patrimoine (DPC), Senegal, provided technical support while the lead trainer Moussa Wele is a UHC expert.
The just concluded two weeks training held between 10th and 25th January also showed the importance of South-South collaboration, especially between Senegal and Gambia, two countries with a shared maritime history.
The training was the first underwater archaeology training benefitting young Gambian professionals selected from the key entities for the protection of underwater cultural artifacts. They were selected from National Centre for Arts and Culture (2) and the Gambia Navy (2) as they were trained on the basics for the protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (UHC).
The decision to hold this project with Senegal is justified upon its experience and advancement in the management of this lesser-known heritage.
Subsequently, the training, which took place in various sites of Dakar and Goree was accomplished with the involvement of researchers in underwater archaeology from Cheikh Anta Diop University and instructors from the Oceanium Diving Center (Dakar).
Sunkary Jarju, one of the participants, an agent at Gambia Navy, stated: “I’m delighted to participate in the very first training as a woman. The experience has given me a better understanding of our role as a security force for the preservation of our submerged heritage.”
Musa Foon, officer at the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) expressed delight, saying “I really appreciated the collaboration with our Senegalese brothers who spared no effort to share their experience with us in this totally new field.”
He added that “the experience acquired will allow me as a museum agent to participate in raising awareness among the Gambian public about the promotion and preservation of our submerged heritage.”
The training activity is part of the project’s sensitisation and capacity building on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in The Gambia, the very first of its kind in the country. It aims not only at building capacities for the preservation of underwater cultural heritage, but also to raise awareness on the value of underwater heritage and the importance of preserving it through the ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Convention. And the initiative is aligned with the objectives of the UNESCO Dakar Office for the protection of the submerged cultural heritage of the Atlantic coast of Africa.