Presiding over the festival on behalf of President Adama Barrow, the vice president of The Gambia, Dr. Isatou Touray said it is “rather sad that certain historic monuments on the Island which form a critical role in the overall history of the Island of Janjangbureh is being insidiously destroyed.”
Historic buildings, she pointed out, are being pulled down in the presence of the community, “This is sad and it must stop.”
Looking for correction to this, “First and foremost, the community should find ways and means of stopping this destruction of heritage on the Island and we in government will do the legislation accordingly.”
Because “if the sites are destroyed, then a day will come when the tourists coming here will no longer have anything to see. And we all know that when you destroy the attractions, tourists will not come and that will weaken all the efforts that we have expended all these years to turn this community into a tourism hub,” she informed the community.
More so, lodges, guest-houses and similar eco tourism accommodation are being built on the island; then why should we sit and see the heritage being destroyed?” she asked rhetorically.
On behalf of President of The Gambia, the vice president expressed gratitude to participants; LOC; the various cultural groups from far and near, the technicians, press and all officials for their attendance while thanking partners - YEP, UNESCO NATCOM; GTBoard; GTHI; NCAC; governor of CRR and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture among others for their support.
However, she assured the community of Janjangbureh that “the government of His Excellency Adama Barrow, President of Republic will continue to work towards building an inclusive and dynamic culture-centered tourism sector where the needs of the communities are well taken care of.”
Hamat N.K. Bah, minister of Tourism and Culture expressed delight on the celebration of the festival and highlighted the importance government attaches to the island and the festival in Gambian history.
He noted that in 1823 the first free slaves landed on the island “and next year marking 200 years of the existence will be celebrated nationally and internationally on the Island.”
He reiterated that the government attaches importance to “our culture and heritage that shows who we are; hopefully, next year celebration will attract lot of dignitaries including presidents and diplomats. So we are looking forward to huge festival next year.”
Minister Bah enjoined the LOC to always make savings from their activities to enable them expand and venture into other projects for the benefit and development of the Janjangbureh community.