HIGHLIGHTS OF THE INAUGURAL MBOKA FESTIVAL of ARTS, CULTURE AND SPORT IN THE GAMBIA AND ANNOUNCING 2018 DATES

The first Mboka Festival of Arts, Culture and Sport took place in The Gambia from 7 – 17 January 2017 to astounding success. The festival was organised by Camp Africa, Global Hands and SABLE Publications with support from our partners, ADEPT (UK), Asset Bantaba (The Gambia), Numbi Arts (UK) and the Organisation of Women Writers in Africa (USA).

Highlights of the 2017 festival include the visit of the esteemed Nobel nominated Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and the events presented in his honour : his play, ‘The Black Hermit’ produced by Ebunjan Theatre Troupe, the Opening Event for the International Book and Art Fair and “Good Market” Food Fair and the dramatisation of his short story, very apt for the time and environment in which arrived in, ‘The Upright Revolution’ , now published in three Gambian languages.

Other highlights include The ‘Ninkinanka Trail’ Gambia River Excursion organised with tourism students from Leeds Beckett University, UK and the conference ‘Questioning the Logic of the System: A Critical Look at Southern Perspectives’ at Manduar Development Hub where Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o gave a keynote talk alongside the spokesperson for the new coalition government, Halifa Sallah.

Every event was a success in its own right which can be seen via the photos, videos and commentary on our website and Facebook page, but also via personal stories. A new storyteller, Nzinga, emerged from our audience. Since his debut performance at Senegambia Hotel at the Opening Event, Nzinga has received other bookings, “ I can’t thank Mboka Festival enough. You’ve shown me opportunities to generate an income in The Gambia doing something I love and I’ve met another storyteller who I’ve admired for many years. I had no idea that Cornelisu Gomez would be here today.” As a thank you to Mboka, he has become Nzinga has become a volunteer at the African Poetry Library.

The visit of Ngugi wa Thiong’o from 13-17 January was further marked by his words of wisdom and encouragement to nurture and publish both written and spoken Gambian languages as a major factor in keeping Gambian culture and heritage alive. He described the purpose built Timbooktoo bookshop as “the soul of The Gambia.”

Mboka will be equally exciting and stimulating in 2018 as the festival bridged and embraced the ‘new dawn’ of The Gambia in January 2017. We intend to celebrate this ‘new dawn’ annually with the festival, showcasing and exhibiting produce from The Gambia, contributing to its creative and cultural economy.

Mboka 2018 will include the postponed sports activities from 2017 – the Bike Challenge and the Marathon. The festival will again include: an International Book Fair and Art Fair, a “Good Market” Food Fair, Gambian Cultural Activities, Conferences, music, and theatre from local and international artists. The festival will culminate in a Chefs Award competition and Fundraising Dinner.

ANNOUNCING MBOKA FESTIVAL DATES FOR 2018
Mboka Festival in 2018 has been extended from a 10 day to a 14 day festival, from 6-20 January 2018 offering festival go-ers a 14-day festival of distinction and diversity that celebrates Gambian cultural heritage alongside African diasporic cultural heritage. World renowned guest speakers have already committed their participation. An update of key partners and speakers will be announced in Spring 2017. We continue on the journey of a One World, Diaspora, Pan African experience!

ANNOUNCING A COMPETITION FOR AN EMERGING GAMBIAN WRITER!
At the poetry event on 9 Jan the 3rd anniversary of the African Poetry Library SABLE LitMag announced a new competition for a young, emerging Gambian writer. The prize will be to join a select group of young SABLE-ists during MBOKA 2018 to create new work. Further details to be announced shortly.

To see highlights from 2017
https://www.facebook.com/sable.litmag
For more information and regular updates visit: mbokafestival.org
email: [email protected]

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Mboka means ‘One Family’ in Wolof

Dates and Venues for 2018
Saturday 6 January – Saturday 20 Jan inclusive
Venues: Senegambia Hotel, Senegambia, Manduar Development Hub, Near Brikama, NCAC (Mango Tree) in Fajara (other venues may be added).

Festival Founders
The founders and co-ordinators of the Mboka Festival are three award winning organisations that operate internationally through their founders. Behind each organisation are enigmatic, productive personalities of international repute who have produced groundbreaking and inspiring programmes, events and material over the past 25 years. Each organisation supports a local charity. More details can be found on our website. Donations to the festival can be through SABLE Publications.

Adama Bah holds an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management and is an associate member of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism which he has been associated with since it started. Adama is the Chairman of the board of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism – West Africa which he founded and which is part of the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia. In 2004, Adama was the first person to win the award as the person who has contributed most significantly to responsible tourism in the prestigious World Responsible Tourism Award.
http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/winners/2004.htm
During this association, Adama has attended almost all the conferences organised by the Centre as a speaker. ICRT conferences started in Cape Town, South Africa in 2004 and since then have been organised in India, Canada, Oman, Ireland, Spain and the UK. The latest one was held in Cape Town in South Africa where Adama was a speaker and a judge for the first Africa Responsible Tourism Award. In The Gambia, Adama co-ordinated the University of The Gambia’s 23 scholarships to Gambians and other West Africans issued by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Through his engagement with the Travel Foundation as their Gambian Programme Manager (ended in 2013) he is well experienced on issues of tourism and community development: http://www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk/images/media/Roots_project_summary.pdf Adama serves as a member of the Advisory panel on the annual ICRT World Responsible Tourism Day at the World Travel Market in London. In 2015, at the WTM he was a speaker at the Change Makers session. He also organised and chaired events during the WRTD relating to issues concerning Africa: he organised the launch of an initiative he founded called Camp Africa and at WTM 2014 he organised an event to highlight the impacts of Ebola on tourism that was filled to capacity. For more information on Adama Bah: www.adamabah.info

Kadija George, FRSA is a literary activist, project arts manager and teacher/trainer of Sierra Leonean descent.
After graduating from Birmingham University, where she majored in West African Studies, she began her working career in travel, for the global student travel company, STA Travel, becoming the manager of their flagship store in London and then their Africa Specialist. At the same time, she became a freelance journalist, specialising in Black arts, Black British literature and women’s issues. She worked for a spell on Africa Economic Digest and Nigeria’s African Concord, creating Concord Lifestyle their ‘diaspora’, supplement, as well as guest editing for various publications and founding others. She combined her two loves of travel and writing to create the SABLE Writer’s HotSpot in 1998 to take writers of the African Diaspora on field trips to dialogue with writers and arts practitioners in other parts of the world. Consequently, she has travelled extensively around Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, South East Asia and the USA. As a project and event manager she has co-ordinated several African literary projects and events in the UK, USA and Africa, organising the first SABLE Litfest in The Gambia in 2007. Kadija has received several awards for her work in the creative arts. For more information on Kadija George: http://www.sablelitmag.org/kadijasesay/
@SABLELitmag.org

Dr. Momodou Sallah (PhD, MPhil, MA, FRSA) is a Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work at the Social Work, Youth and Community Division, De Montfort University, UK. He is also the Chair of the Board of Directors, Global Hands, which is an NGO operating in The Gambia and UK. In June 2013, he was named a National Teaching Fellow by the UK Higher Education Academy. In November 2015, he was named the “Most Innovative Teacher” in the UK by Times Higher Education Supplement. He has more than 20 years’ experience working with young people at local, national and international levels; from being the Youth Director of Gambia Red Cross Society to a Senior Youth Worker at the Leicester City Council, UK. Momodou teaches on the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at De Montfort University, leading on the Theory and Practice of Youth Work; Theory and Practice of Community Development; and Global Youth Work modules. Dr. Sallah has contributed to numerous publications in the field of work with Black youth, young Muslims and globalisation/global youth work. His research interests include diversity, participation and globalisation especially in relation to young people. He is actively involved in advocacy and has organised ten national or international conferences during the past five years bringing academics, students, policy makers and practitioners together, to develop curriculum currency and maintain a constant dialogue between theory and practice.

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