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By Momodou Torp

Tourism minister Hamat Bah said last week that there will be no begging for funds to stage this year’s Roots International Festival. Instead, the government will try to raise the funds by itself.

“We don’t want to see the government turn into a begging agency as was the case in the previous organising committee of Roots [under former president Jammeh],” he said.
The Gambia’s bi-annual Roots International Festival (formerly Homecoming) commemorates the forced enslavement and shipment of millions of Africans to the Americas and the Caribbean region. Africans and friends of Africa from the Diaspora annualy travel to The Gambia to attend and participate in the festival.

Aside from funds already given to the National Organising Committee, NOC of this year’s Roots, Bah said gala dinners will also be staged to garner more money.
“When we came to power, we found that the Roots festival was more of a Kanilai show than a national initiative. It was not reflecting the true nature of Gambian culture and we felt that as a government we cannot go into that. We need to give it [Roots] a new look, a look that every Gambian would be part of and not government-driven,” he said.

He challenged the NOC to work hard to achive goals of this year’s Roots. “All hands must be on deck as the festival falls directly within the national development plan of the government,” he told them.

The out-spoken minister assured the NOC of his ministry’s support.
“The PS has additionally injected a lot of funds for the 2020 committee to make sure that those funds are utilised for the purpose of the festival. We want to make this festival the biggest gathering of the Adama Barrow regime,” he said.