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French Embassy, Alliance Francaise hold youth theatre festival for Gambian students

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By Tabora Bojang

The French Embassy in Senegal and the Gambia in partnership with Alliance Francaise de Banjul and Association Djarama from Senegal holds the third edition of the youth theatre festival FESTHI drawing over 300 students from various schools in the Gambia.

The two-day event began on Wednesday May 22 with an opening ceremony that set the scene for multiple interactive and learning activities ranging from cultural and creative workshops to theatrical performances and team games.

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Students from schools including Glory Baptist, Ecole Française de Banjul, Nusrat, Sbec, Swallow and Marina International participated in the celebrations.

They showcase and demonstrate talent and skill in plays, drama, games, theatre, music and dance offering them a unique lens to explore human stories, emotions and ideas around themes.

The works were written in dramatic texts by 3 international playwrights who were invited for an artistic residency program at the Alliance Francaise last year.

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“This is a project organised by the French Embassy in Senegal and Gambia and the idea is to promote the Francophone language and cultures through theatre with the students,” said Camille Fournier, cooperation officer to the Gambia at the French Embassy in Senegal. “We invited writers to write the plays and the books distributed to the schools and to help the students learn and understand French through arts. You can learn French and also have fun at the same time and we are proud of it.”

She said the embassy will continue to partner with Alliance Francaise de Banjul to hold this annual festival for students in the Gambia in the spirit of cultural diversity and inclusiveness.

“I want to sincerely thank Alliance Francaise, parents, teachers and all the students.They are all really passionate and motivated,” Ms Fournier added.

Olivier Guillochon from Association Djarama, a humanistic innovation that facilitates access to culture and education for children, described culture and arts as critical elements that contribute to the general education and awareness of the children. Olivier is invited for a week-long artistic residency in Banjul to propose professional theatre shows and circus workshops for Gambian students. “For Djarama, culture and arts are part of our education curriculum to broaden the horizons of the kids who will be adults tomorrow,” she stated.

Abdoul Aziz Sidibeh, teacher from Glory Baptist French department said; “These demonstrations give courage and confidence to parents and guardians that French is developing in the Gambia. We want to thank Alliance Francaise and the French Embassy for bringing this idea and helping schools and French teachers in the Gambia to improve their way of teaching students. The students are very excited about it and I advise parents and teachers to encourage students to embrace it more because it gives you an advantage career wise.

Awards,trophies and certificates were awarded to multiple winners who participated in various contests.

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