Delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the 11th edition of the International Roots Homecoming Festival at Arch 22, Banjul, last evening, Mrs Isatou Njie-Saidy said in a world that is becoming more globalised, there is the tendency for the long-held cultural values of Africans to be swept under the carpet in the name of modernism and “so-called democracy”.
“Africa’s value systems stand threatened and call for deep reflection as to which way Africa and Africans want to go. We owe it to our future generations to preserve those cultural values that are pivotal part of our heritage on which hinges our identity as a people and provides us with the strength, courage and wisdom to continue to deal with neo-colonial nuances and hegemony that manifest itself in diverse ways and threatened our value system as we march forward for political and economic emancipation.
“In spite of Africa’s wealth and resources, the continent continues to grapple with the contradiction of being one of the richest continents in the world, and yet her subjects continue to remain poor, undernourished and under-educated. Therefore, it behooves all Africans to rise up in unison and address all these challenges and bring the continent out of the doldrums of poverty and other forms of underdevelopment in the context of the AU Pan-Africanism and African renaissance 2063 agenda.
“The Gambia, the Smiling Coast of Africa, is home to all people of African descent. As an untainted gem, preserved from all forms of pollution, we maintain this country as a land of peace, tranquility and harmony. We pride ourselves as a model for peaceful coexistence between different religions and ethnic groups. As we herald the much awaited African renaissance, The Gambia beckons all Africans to this smiling coast as a knowledge hub and a platform for the propagation of authentic African culture. Here we nurture the roots of creative African intellectual power and we support genuine African heritage out of which shall blossom the fruits of our minds.”
The vice president averred that the dreams of past and present generations of the black race are now taking a life of their own and posited that the world now realises that “Africa is the next frontier for socio-economic transformation especially in the demographic dividend emerging from our young population”. She added that the doors of The Gambia are open and Gambians will remain friends of all races, but warned that Gambian heritage and dignity will not be traded for any bait be it economic or ideological.
Other speakers at the three-hour event included Julius Garvey, the son of Marcus Garvey, Mutabaruka, and Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie. The ceremony was interspersed with cultural performances.
By Alagie Manneh
& Essa Njie]]>