Gambia: Janjanbureh Celebrates 7th Kankurang Festival in Grand Style

The 7th Edition of the Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival which was celebrated from the 26th to 28th of January 2024 has been described as one of its kind in the historic Island of Janjanbureh also known as McCarthy Island and Georgetown.

The three-day festival that brought together thousands of visitors, tourists, and lovers of culture allowed everyone to mingle, and enjoy themselves while it also created chances of business opportunities for investors especially those who want to invest in the tourism and culture sector.

Presiding over the official opening of the festival on Friday on behalf of Governor Ousman Bah, Deputy Governor Sainey Mbaye said the story started in 2018 when the community was supported by the government through the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) while the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) decided to revive this great festival.

In 2008, the Deputy Governor narrated, UNESCO listed Kankurang as a Masterpiece of Humanity which of course remains a source of pride “to all of us,” while noting that the island is the home of Kankurang.

He pointed out the significance of culture, saying it helps to build a self-identity and pride, and it is “our languages, foods, dress and belief systems that make us as real people and not robots. So, the stronger the cultural heritage we have, the more robust our identity.”

Through a shared heritage such as masquerades, languages, and rituals, he said, the country can always arrive at solutions for its political and social differences. “Through our shared cultural heritage we can build a united and prosperous Gambia. Jobs can be created in the creative heritage industries. This is why the government of His Excellency President Adama Barrow will continue to support culture and this community.”

Deputy Governor Mbye thanked the board and staff of the NCAC; the Gambia Tourism Board and the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute for offering the much needed support.

He hailed NATCOM UNESCO for its support to NCAC through various interventions such as the Kankurang Centre on the island and also the Event Management Committee (EMC).

Honourable Omar Jammeh, National Assembly Member for Janjanbureh applauded the EMC members for organising the event without any hitches, while thanking all the supporters who contributed to making it a one-to-reckon-with festival in The Gambia.

He outlined the importance of the festival which included investment opportunities in different areas such as accommodations, utilisation of the river Gambia, and job creation to stop or curb urban and rural migrations.

Mr. Lamin Jarjou, a senior programme officer of the NATCOM UNESCO, dilated on the importance of the Kankurang, while applauding the community of Janjanbureh for initiative.

He noted that the Kankurang tradition is being affected taking into consideration the climate change issue as the trees in the bush that are used to dress the Kankurang are felled in the forests.

Mr Sanna Jarjou, speaking on behalf of the Director General of the NCAC, expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, its satellite institutions as well as the attendees from near and far.

He highlighted the challenges facing the Kankurang tradition and urged the people to have its chains maintained.

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