The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and UNESCO NATCOM have once again joined efforts to celebrate the beauty, splendor and value of The Gambia’s World Heritage Properties on the occasion of African World Heritage Day ascribed by UNESCO as an International day worthy of commemoration. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘African Heritage as a source for Humanity, Innovation, and Resilience’. In 2003, the Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List; in 2006, the Stone Circles of Senegambia were inscribed into the World Heritage List as a trans-boundary Property.
The Gambia therefore boasts of World Heritage Properties which have the potential to strengthen our humanity through forging closer ties with and between communities to nurture and sustain peace and calm. World Heritage Sites are sites of reflection for the betterment of the communities through skills acquisition, reconciliation and education. Through the World Heritage Sites, youths can be supported to innovate and thereby make the sites even more relevant to the needs and aspirations of the host communities. The role of World Heritage in building community resilience is also important and can be achieved through using the World Heritage Sites to equip youths, women and marginal groups with skill sets such as tour guiding, souvenir making, cultural performances, gardening, arts and craft and leveraging their interpersonal and intercultural dialogue skills to respond to the needs of the visitors and enhance income generation.
Therefore, The Gambia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites have the great potential to improve livelihoods and support strong and sustainably resilient communities against hunger, unemployment and the negative effects of climate change.
Accordingly, the theme for this year also indirectly urges for continuous community participation in the management and conservation of World Heritage Sites. Community participation and involvement cannot be an afterthought; it should always be a forethought so that our World Heritage Sites will always be in a winning situation.
This year, NCAC and NATCOM will mark the events at Kerr Batch Stone Circles site at Nianija with a series of school/community activities with Chamen and Buduk schools, including debates, quiz, work sheets and cultural performances and cleaning exercises. Jazz as an African heritage was celebrated as a run-up activity with the collaboration of the Alliance Francaise and Jazz Lovers Gambia on March 30th 2022 with UNESCO Associated schools in the Greater Banjul.
On May 5th a press conference will be organized at the NATCOM office while the actual celebration will be belatedly held on May 12th at Kerr Batch site, Nianija.