Addressing a crowd of at least hundred students at an event organised by Relax Sahel Recreational Complex in collaboration with West Africa International School, the former MDI director-general, Mrs Jabang said: “We intend to give young people, young boys and girls the opportunity to do research and learn about their great people, great men and women of African origin, even ordinary citizens who have done great things in the history of Africa. In our days as students all we would learn was history of European imperialism, colonisation, evolution of trade unionism in England, the second world war, et cetera. There was very little information or very little teaching about our own people and our history to the extent that the history of our continent was written by aliens.
“It was written by non-Africans and naturally there are bound to be distortions. What we planned to do with the event which starts today and which we hope to replicate annually is to bring in our young people to go away and do research and come up with real things that happen in Africa. Not fiction. Not stories that conceal all the good things and exposed all the horrible things, the uncivilised things, cannibalism, human sacrifice and all the obnoxious things that they portray as Africans.”
Also speaking at the event, Gambian historian, Hassoum Ceesay told students about the importance of rewriting and preserving our history. “Not all the history of Africa is written. Much of it is in the form of memory. To know our history we must go and record it. We must go to the field to research and write our history which is very, very important.
“Until 50 years ago they were saying in the West that Africa has no history. We ask why? They said because African languages are not written, we cannot record our history. This is why historians in the ’60s started to go back and record the oral tradition. These were later put into book form to tell the whole world that even before the advent of Europeans; Africans had their own rich history. We had our own empires which were ruled by powerful African rulers.”
The general manager of Relax Sahel country club, George Gomez, said the idea behind the “important” event was to work with schools and do research based on the theme that would be selected every year. He explained: “The research will be divided into three components. Over a week, starting next year, we will present those components. The components will be on drama, culture and poetry. In five years, we expect to have enough materials for students to write a book on Gambian history.”
The aim of the occasion, he said, was to motivate the young people to know and be proud of the achievements of the great African kings, rulers, chiefs and in particular Gambian leaders. This initiative, Relax Sahel boss said, will give students an opportunity to rewrite the history of The Gambia, record and preserve the achievements and contributions of our ancestors to the development of the country and the continent respectively.
Author: Alagie Manneh]]>