By Omar Bah
The Gambia Soninkara Namasanou, a cultural association formed to revive Soninke music in the country in partnership with World Cola, recently held its fourth annual musical award in a colorful event at the Alliance Francaise Gambiene.
The award night which is meant to promote and motivate Sarahule musicians, brought together Gambians of all diversities at the Alliance Franco to witness what many of the spectators believe was the best ever award ceremony to be organised by the association.
Ousman Mpaja scooped both the best artist and video of the year awards, Mahaba Empire also won both best song and stage performance of the year, M Sarjo won the best album launching of the year and Banta Sahoneh grabbed the best cultural artist of the year.
Addressing the jubilant audience at the Alliance Franco, the president Soninkara Namasanou, Muhammed Tera, registered his profound gratitude to all his committee members and those who turned out to witness the event, adding that his association is working tireless to ensure they achieve their dreams of reviving their culture.
“I also want to reassure you that we will continue to do our level best to make sure that the event continues to grow. I will not do justice if I don’t thank our partners and all those who have contributed in one way or the other towards the success of this event,” he said.
Speaking to The Standard in the sideline after the award, the association secretary general, Yankuba Sissoho said this year’s event was arguably the best ever since they started organising the award night four years back.
“As you can see, I am very happy, happy in the sense that the program has registered a great success. The performance of our artists and the turn-out was just unprecedented,” he said.
He used the opportunity to thank World Cola, GSM Empire and S&S Properties for partnering them in their crusade.
“I also want to reassure all our artists that we will continue to mobilise efforts to ensure that the issue of video quality is addressed, before our next year’s ceremony,” he said.
He continued: “I would not conclude without thanking the entire participating artists, most especially Mahaba Empire for winning two awards competing for the second year”.
Meanwhile, Tala Camara, a teacher and a member of the Soninkara association, said though she is not a Sarahule but admires their love for one another. “I am going home today feeling very happy about what I have seen this night”.
“Yes, I am not a Sarahule, but I really like them (Sarahule) because of the love they have for their culture. Everything that was exercised here, was done in discipline and I believe everybody who attended this program can attest to that,” she said.
She called on the musicians to improve on their video quality while urging other tribes to emulate the Sarahules for their passion and love for their culture.
The Soninke, also called Sarakole, Sarahule, or Serahuli, are a West African ethnic group found in eastern Senegal and its capital Dakar, northwestern Mali and Foute Djalon in Guinea, and southern Mauritania.
They speak the Soninke language, also called Maraka language, which is one of the Mande languages.
Predominantly Muslims, the Soninke were one of the early ethnic groups from Sub-Saharan West Africa to convert to Islam in about the 10th century. The contemporary population of Soninke people is estimated to be over 2 million.