Tourism Minister says Gambia to fight for return of stolen artifacts

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By Tabora Bojang

Tourism Minister Hamat Bah has informed lawmakers that the government is taking steps to partner with the Economic Community of West African States to bring back Gambian artifacts that were looted during the colonial rule.

“So far, our investigation has shown 86 items [art works] that belong to the Gambia, are found in France alone. It is believed that these are items that belong to our country and we will do whatever it takes to bring them back,” he said.

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He disclosed that since The Gambia “does not have the muscle” to do such repatriations alone, the government is resorting to a common approach to partner with Ecowas to bring back “looted” Gambian heritages taken away by the colonial powers.

“These 86 items are in France alone. We are not talking about Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and other countries. It means it is a huge task for us to do that and that is why we have a common approach with Ecowas,” the tourism minister said.

He however did not give a timeline as to when the process would begin.

“Our identity, our being a nation can only be real when our history, our past is used to build our people and we can only do this when we know the true value of our assets and how important they are to us. Unfortunately, this country [Gambia] has been left out for so long. Not much has been done. As we speak now, I am thinking of how we can get a national troupe. We are the only country without a national troupe or national theatre. However, the government has already allocated land for a national theatre at the Brufut Heights and we believe we should be able to raise funds to build the project,” Hamat Bah told lawmakers.