Ministry of tourism, NCAC set for ‘best-ever’ Roots Festival


Speaking during a press conference with the media fraternity at the Kairaba Beach Hotel she said: “His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh and his government have contributed 90% of our budget. So far we have had support from other institutions such as Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation. We also have support from Gamtel and Gamcel and also Gambia Civil Aviation Authority. We received help from Gampetroleum and they will hold fund-raising for the African gala dinner and awards night. Trust Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank  are also going to give us some funds. It’s like everybody is doing something to make sure we have a successful event. Africell are also helping with radio and newspaper adverts. They are also doing sms for the musical jamboree.

“The musical jamboree is on the 10th of May at the Independence Stadium. We invite our very own artistes like Sagarr Singhateh and Jali Madi. We have Manding Morry, Musa Philly Jobarteh, Samba Bah, the Holy Family Band, Five Star Band, Jaliba Kuyateh, Jali Kebba, Faateleku Band and the Humanity Stars Band. In terms of international artists, we have in our midst Sizzla Kalonji, Muta Baruka and Erica Baadu. We have more of our own with only three international artists.

Asked why they have not invited any African artistes for the bi-annual event, minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie retorted: “Some African artistes or top figures said we should pay them half-a-million just to appear at the occasion. It is very disheartening because Sizzla Kalonji and others are saying ‘just get me to Banjul, pay for my crews’ ticket fees and I would do the rest.” 


For his part, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Modou Joof, said the event will feature displays and performances of the rich Gambian culture to the participants.

“There will be the showcasing of traditional masquerades and masks of ethnic groups by different cultural groups from regions across the country. Other masquerades and masks will come from neighbouring Senegal and other West African countries like Nigeria and Guinea Bissau. Other traditional musical instruments will be displayed such as the kora and balafong singphones. There will be a Roots pilgrimage to Juffureh on the 12, the home of Kunta Kinteh and the rite of passage of the Jola tribe known as Futampaf will take place in Kanilai on the 14.

Mr Joof also spoke on how culture contributes in reconnecting people of a common identity of which Roots is a clear manifestation. He called on the general public to fully participate in the upcoming event while offering assurances of the “best organised roots to have ever taken place”.

His concluded: “We believe that we can use culture as a platform to unite our people and to forge closer ties with our brothers and sisters in the diaspora for meaningful cooperation and development. This is why we always use the theme ‘celebrating unity through culture. “While it’s a cultural celebration, we are not just celebrating our culture for celebration sake; we are celebrating our culture because we want to preserve those cultural values and norms and our heritage which accounts for our identity as a people, country and continent.”


By Alagie Manneh and Essa Njie