For information on festivals of
the Gambia, please visit the Upcoming Events and Festivals page.....
Association of Theatre (GAMAT)
The GAMAT is organising
a one day congress of all the stakeholders in the theatrical field
(Actors/Actresses, Dancers etc) at the Alliance Francaise de
Banjul, Kairaba Avenue on Friday 8th June 2012 beginning at 9am to
Bureng Koosee Festival
- Saturday 2nd June 2012,
Bureng Village, Jarra East, Lower River Region This festival
is a Mandinka community festival started in June 2011, organised by
the Village Development Committee as part of a quest to revive the
traditional cultural practices which bred unity and cohesion in
their society. The Mandinka communities, especially in the district
of Jarra, are renowned for having the largest number of masks and
masquerades in the country.
Koosee is a rare masquerade tradition that was performed during
harvest time when food as in plentiful supply and there was no work
to do in the fields.
read more on upcoming
events and festivals...
Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd June 2012, Kunkujang Jatta Jatta
The theme of congress is "A Call for Cultural Identification, a
requirement for Unity, Strength, Success, Patriotism and
Participation in National Development. The objective is to give
cultural education or orientation to the audience that positively
transforms the mindsets and lifestyles of the people, to
appreciate, embrace, maintain and uphold by displaying our cultural
values and belief systems by virtue of who we are as a tribe within
our cultural framework and context as Gambians and Africans.
EXHIBITION - THE ART
OF SAIHOU OMAR NJIE, 28TH MAY - 12TH JUNE 2012
Saihou Omar Njie a Gambian artist resident in the United States is
currently in The Gambia as part of project in which he is gathering
portraits of 100 African Americans to compare with that of 100
Africans with close facial resemblance.
Njie works mainly in batik but is a reputable photographer as well.
His work and biography can be viewed from his website (www.sonjart.com).
The National Centre for Arts and Culture has had a long acquaintance
with Saihou and his presence in the country is an opportunity for
budding artists and photographers to benefit from his wide
exhibition will be on from 28th May - 12th June 2012, at Alliance Francaise, Banjul
and will run simultaneously with a digital show of his photographic works.
Music Union hold congress
Under the support of the NCAC, the Gambia Music
Union held its congress on Thursday 24 May at Alliance Francaise,
Kairaba Avenue. Baba Ceesay, Director General, NCAC gave the keynote
address and exhorted musicians to associate in order to be able to
help harness the potentials of the Gambia Copyright royalties
mechanisms. He said the NCAC was happy to assist artists
associations in order that creators can unite for the protection of
Tijan Kamara, NCAC Chair and other NCAC staff
were at hand to assist in the elections of new officials, Dr Oliver
Mbodge, veteran Gambian musician was unanimously elected President.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHIEFS COMMEND NCAC
The Gambia National Council of Chiefs
under the Paramount Chief Alhaji Demba Sanyang on Friday awarded a
certificate of commendation to the NCAC for our support to the
activities of the Council. It was handed over to the NCAC during the
opening ceremony of the 2012 Mansabengo or chiefs meeting held at
Basse, Upper River Region (URR) 17-19 May 2012. Hassoum Ceesay, a
noted historian and senior NCAC staff was there to receive the
certificate on behalf of the Director General. Mr. Ceesay also
served on this years Mansabengo
as the resource person on the theme ‘Chiefs and the promotion and
development of culture’. His paper, which highlighted the role
that chiefs can play in cultural revival, was highly praised by the
chiefs who found it very instructive and purposely.
MUSEUM STAFF ATTEND WORKSHOP IN CALABAR, NIGERIA 6th - 9th MAY 2012
Hassoum Ceesay, Curator, Jainaba Jah, Museum Assistant and Bahoreh
Drammeh, Kachikally Musuem, Bakau were in Nigeria, 6th - 9th May
2012 to attend a workshop in children programmes in Museum,
organised by Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM).
FESTIVAL, 22nd APRIL 2012
The Dankunku Maribantang festival
took place on the 22nd April 2012 and the NCAC was well represented.
FORA, 18th - 22nd APRIL 2012
From April 18 - 22 2012, the NCAC
held a series of stakeholders fora to sound the opinion of artistic
groups (music, writers, drama, producers) on various issues of
interest including copyright and the proposed NCAC Strategic Plan
2012 - 2017. All the sessions held at the National Museum and
Alliance Francaise were well attended.
MISSION VISITS THE GAMBIA, 26th APRIL - 2nd MAY 2012
In our effort to establish a
robust copyright regime in The Gambia, the NCAC invited ECOWAS to
send a fact finding mission to the country to advice on the way
forward on copyright and the collecting society. The ECOWAS team led
by Director of Culture at ECOWAS were in Banjul from 26th April to 2nd
May 2012 to met and discuss with stakeholders on copyright matters. One
outcome of the visit was that registration of works has intensified.
VISIT TO THE GAMBIA NATIONAL MUSEUM, 13th APRIL 2012
The Taiwanese President Ma Ying Jeou
during his 5 days state visit to The Gambia 11th to 16th April 2012,
visited the National Museum of The Gambia on Friday 13th April 2012
for 30mins. His visit was historic as the first visiting president
ever to visit the National Museum.
National Centre for Arts and Culture under the Ministry of Tourism
and Culture in partnership with Gomis Promotions have been charged
with the responsibility to re-activate the once popular Miss Gambia
Beauty Contest after 10 years of dormancy.
This is with the view to selecting a
beauty that can represent and promote The Gambia at the Miss World
and Miss Universe contests and at major tourism fairs around the
Preliminary competitions in the Regions and Municipalities will
commence 15th December through to the 25th 2011, winners and
runners-up from each heat will compete in the finals which is slated for Saturday
The 22 member Copyright Commission was inaugurated by the Minister
of Tourism and Culture on the 25th November
2009 at the Ministry's Conference Hall, The Quadrangle, Banjul, The
The Copyright Commission
Publisher, Poet, Author
S. B Touray
Officer, Jazzist, music
Video Documentalist, TV
Arts, Theatre, Educator
Super Eagles fame
Musician, live performance
Copyright law lecturer
OF REFERENCE OF THE COMMISSION
•To advise the Copyright Office on the registration and licensing of
literary, artistic, musical, sound, audiovisual, choreographic and
derivative works such as translations and adaptations.
•To meet regularly to go through works deposited with the Office for
copyright license to confirm their originality and moral decency as
enshrined in Chapter 11 Part 1 (2) of the Act which states that for
a work to be eligible for copyright it must be ‘original in
character ’ and has been affixed in a definite medium of expression
(in a book, cassette, CD, DVD etc). t the Copyright Office in its
sensitization and public outreach activities.
•To assist the Copyright Office in public sensitization and public
awareness programmes in the radio, TV and other mass media.
In 2005, UNESCO Proclaimed the Kankurang as a “Masterpiece of the
oral and intangible heritage of humanity.”
The proclamation of Masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage
signifies UNESCO’s strategy for the safeguarding of the world’s
living heritage. The proclamation programme was created by UNESCO’s
General Conference in 1997, and was approved by its Executive Board
The main objectives of the proclamation are:
• To raise awareness on the importance of the oral and intangible
heritage and the need to safeguard it.
• To evaluate and list the World’s oral and intangible heritage.
• To encourage countries to establish national inventories and to
take legal and administrative measures for the protection of their
oral and intangible heritage.
• To promote the participation of traditional artists and local
practitioners in identifying and revitalizing their intangible
The programme thus, honours two categories of intangible cultural
1. Forms of popular or traditional expression
2. Cultural spaces, defined as “places in which popular and
traditional activities are concentrated.”
The Masterpieces are selected on the basis of six criteria:
(i) Possess outstanding value as a Masterpiece of the human creative
(ii) That they are rooted in the cultural tradition or cultural
history of the community concerned
(iii) Play a role as a means of affirming the cultural identity of
the community concerned
(iv) That they are distinguished by excellence in the application of
skills and technical qualities displayed.
(v) That they constitute a unique testimony of a living cultural
(vi) That they are threatened with disappearance due to insufficient
means for safeguarding or to processes of rapid change.
B. THE KANKURANG PROJECT (GAMBIA AND
In view of the proclamation of the Kankurang as a “Masterpiece of
the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” by UNESCO in 2005, the
latter had encouraged both the Republic of Senegal and The Gambia to
jointly put up a project proposal geared towards the preservation of
the Kankurang tradition in view of its outstanding value. The joint
submission was necessitated by the fact that the “Kankurang”
tradition traverses the borders of the two countries, and could in
fact be traced back to Guinea Bissau as well.
Thus, in 2006, The Gambia and Senegal submitted a proposal to UNESCO
for the safeguard of the Kankurang, requesting for funds from the
“UNESCO/JAPAN Deposited Funds for the Protection of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage” to the tune of US$146,992.
In view of the foregoing, UNESCO approved for The Gambia, the sum of
US$63,027 in July 2007, and a contract to that effect was signed by
the NCAC on 25th July 2007.
The project essentially entails the following:
a. Establishment of a synergy between National Institutions and
Communities where the Kankurang tradition exists.
b. Creation of a Kankurang Centre cum Museum to be managed by a
c. Protection of forests including re-afforestation of the trees
that are associated with the Kankurang.
d. Provision of informative and promotional literature on the
e. Establishment of a National and Local committee to oversee the
implementation of the Kankurang Project.
f. Establishment of a joint Senegalo-Gambian Steering Committee for
the safeguard of the “Kankurang”.
C. ACTIONS UNDERTAKEN BY THE NCAC FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
• Sensitization of regional governors about the project.
• A first ever workshop on Kankurang traditions in The Gambia was
organized in Janjanbureh from 8 – 11 May 2008, with representation
from all the regions, except the North Bank Region, Banjul and KMC.
• The different Kankurang types and their cultural spaces and
cultural significance, role and functions in society have been
identified and documented.
• The location for the future Kankurang centre has been identified
and agreed upon by consensus.
• A Local Committee has been established.
• The National Committee has been established.
• The second workshop of the National Committee was held at the
Independence Stadium in Bakau on the 11th April 2009. The purpose
was to bring together the National Co-ordinating Committee on the
Gambia National Committee of the Kankurang.
D. JOINT SENEGALO – GAMBIAN STEERING
COMMITTEE FOR THE SAFEGUARD OF THE KANKURANG
Since The Gambia and Senegal both share the Kankurang traditions,
and since the project on the Safeguard of the Kankurang was jointly
submitted by the two countries, it was felt necessary that the two
countries should constitute a joint steering committee, to oversee
the implementation of the project in the two countries. The Steering
Committee will include in its membership all the different but
relevant national institutions and representatives of the
communities involved (practitioners, initiators, etc).
Joint Senegalo-Gambian Steering Committee meeting was held from the
27th to 29th August 2009, at the Baobab Holiday Resort.
The Republic of The Gambia was represented by:
Mr. Momodou C. Joof - Director General, National Centre for
Arts & Culture (NCAC)
Mr. Baba Ceesay - Director of Cultural Heritage, NCAC
Mr. Bakary Sanyang - Deputy Director of Research, NCAC
Mr. Sananding Sonko -
Hon. Foday Manka - Chairman National Committee
Mr. Ousainou Cham
The Republic of Senegal was represented by:
Dr. Hamady Bocoum
Abdoul Aziz Guisse
Prof. Balla Mousa Daffe
The meeting was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary,
Ministry of Tourism and Culture on behalf of the Honourable
D. THE GAMBIA KANKURANG CENTRE CUM MUSEUM
It will be located in Janjangbureh, at a place called Tinyangsita,
the site for Kankurang Ceremonies and rituals Janjangbureh.
Construction work on the site has begun in earnest, and work is
expected to be complete by mid January 2010.
When completed, the Centre will house a Museum, an educational
room, a bantaba area, offices and visitor facilities.
The Centre will be managed by the National Committee and overseen by
the local Committee in Janjangbureh, with the NCAC providing
technical and advisory services.
of James Island, the CFAO Building at Albreda and the Stone
Museum, Kerbatch,The Gambia
In December 2008, the Prince Claus Fund under its Cultural Emergency
Response Programme approved a grant of € 35,000 to the National
Centre for Arts and Culture to assist with the immediate restoration
of James Island and the related CFAO Building at Albreda and for the
rehabilitation of the Stone Circles Museum at Kerbatch. The
structures which are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
suffered unusual damage to their fabric during the storms of the
previous rainy season. Following the signing of a contractual
agreement, and the first disbursement of 25% of the project funds,
work started with the rehabilitation of the Kerbatch Museum and the
mobilisation of building materials for the James Island and CFAO
Building works. In accordance with the terms of the contract a
progress report for the period January to March was submitted
detailing inter-alia the results achieved at the Kerbatch Museum
which was completed in the first half of the grant period. Preparatory Activities
Work started soon after the receipt of the first grant payment. As
previously reported, because of the disbursement mode agreed in the
contract (25%-50%-25%) an early decision was taken to undertake full
implementation of the Kerbatch Museum works, and start mobilizing
materials for the James Island/CFAO Building works. Early
mobilization of building materials, especially boulder stones was
particularly important because vast quantities were needed and this
required a considerable period of time to quarry. In addition, the
transportation of the boulders, stakes and other building materials
by canoe to James Island was equally demanding. This process took
approximately eight weeks of the project time.
Mobilisation of local building materials was followed by
mobilization of tools and equipment and additional building
materials such as cement and fired bricks which were obtainable from
Banjul, the capital city where the head office of the NCAC is
located. A truck had to be hired to take these materials to the
The journey to the site involved an 8 mile ferry crossing from the
south bank of the river to the north bank, and a drive of 35 Km. on
rough road. The transportation process lasted two days as there is
often a long queue of vehicles waiting at the ferry terminal to make
the same crossing.
Aerial view of the ruins of James Fort: The newly
consolidated walls discernible from the white mortar.
Work at James Island and the CFAO Building effectively started on
Monday 11th May 2009.
Historic Conservation practice dictates that a survey and recording
of the state of a site is undertaken prior to any intervention.
Consequently, with the assistance of the United States Embassy in
Banjul, additional funding was obtained to facilitate this exercise.
Between May 2, 2009 and May 11, 2009 a detailed assessment of the
remaining sections of James Island and James Fort, as well as
standing structures in Albreda (CFAO Building) were documented by
Liza Gijanto , an American Archaeologist with an interest in
colonial archaeology in The Gambia. The primary goal of this
archaeological assessment was to identify any possible features at
each site, in addition to documenting all extant structures related
to James Fort for site interpretation. The comprehensive report
provided by Ms Gijanto which includes suggestions for future
archaeological investigation and management of historic resources at
James Island and the CFAO structure at Albreda.
Other preparatory assistance came in the form of a civil engineer
who assisted with a structural assessment of the buildings and the
effectiveness of the planned interventions. The engineer was
subsequently retained as technical adviser throughout the period of
Clearing and cleaning of the grounds to remove the rubble of
collapsed walls, plant growth and all extraneous materials from the
sites took place between 11th and 12th May. This was necessary to
among other things reveal any structural weaknesses in the
foundations of the structures and minimize encumbrance during the
course of work.
Clearing also involved the demolition of later incongruous additions
to the sites such as the defunct toilet at James Island and the
concrete seating area which tended to encourage picnics on the
Island to the detriment of its conservation. The plan is to replace
the toilet with a prefabricated portable one, though this provision
is not included in the project budget. A new hut was constructed
around the concrete table in the previous seating area, maintaining
the table as pedestal for the model of the fort /Island.
The task was executed by a team of unskilled labourers under the
close supervision of NCAC staff . Wall works
This mainly entailed the re-filling of holes, consolidation of weak
walls, sealing of cracks, introduction of buttresses to support
free-standing walls, raising of destroyed foundations, reinforcement
of eroded foundations and walls, re-building of collapsed walls,
etc. Wall works at James Island lasted 4 weeks, whilst for the CFAO
Building it took the entire 6 week implementation period.
These works were executed with boulders and/or fired bricks and
mortar (lime, cement, sand). Very high walls were accessed with
metal scaffolding or ladders. The photographs below reflect the
situation before and after the interventions facilitated by the
grant. Sea Defence Works
Sea defense works were executed at both James Island and the CFAO
Building. At both sites the focus was on the most vulnerable areas
where the water laps on the structures at high tide. At James Island
the focus was on the northern side of the fort. The sea defense here
stretched for a distance of 70 meters. At the CFAO Building the
focus was on the shoreline to the east. The sea defense at the CFAO
Building takes a semi circular formation and is also 70 meters in
Construction of sea defenses was executed in the original method
used by the European occupiers, a method that also served to reclaim
the land to provide more building space. This was done by driving in
horizontal wooden piles in close proximity in two rows, filling the
space in between with boulders, and subsequently, filling-in the
front, in the case of James Island, and the back, in the case of the
CFAO Building. This method not only serves to protect the fabric of
the Fort and the CFAO Building from the impact of the waves , but
can be gradually extended to increase the available land space
whenever resources permit. In the case of the CFAO Building, the sea
defense forms a semi-circular platform round the building which can
be subsequently used for seating and other recreational purposes: Visitor paths
Designated visitor paths are important for directing the flow of
visitors and minimizing visitor interference with the fragile
historic fabric. They also prevent visitors wandering into unsafe
areas. Visitor paths should have a gradual gradient that not only
allows visitors to ascend or descend with ease,but also serve as
conduit for draining water out of the building. In addition, they
should not be slippery, and should be free of all forms of debris.
This is particularly important for preventing accidents during
ascent or descent as in the case of the bastions of the fort at
James Island. Both the north east and north west were extensively
worked on as well as other areas in the visitor circuit shown in the
map and photographs below.
Signage, Safety and Interpretative Works
Visitor Circuit on James Island1755 drawing by Justly
impression by CRATerre-ENSAG
Prior to the intervention there was very limited site interpretation
on the island. This consisted mainly of several small wooden signs
marking specific areas of the interior fort as well as the former
landing sites and slave yard area. Only one sign providing
background information on the island’s history attached to the west
entrance wall of the fort existed.
To provide a vivid impression of what James Island looked like in
its heydays, a scaled model of the Island and fort has been
constructed and is housed in a replica slave hut, another structural
element which records speak of abundantly, but have been totally
lost since the final abandonment of the island in 1829.The model is
based on a survey and drawing of the Island executed by Justly
Watson, Director of Engineers, in 1755; and artistic impression
extrapolated from the drawing by CRATerre - ENSAG.
With regard to safety for visitors on site, the most precarious
areas were the bastions of the fort where visitors can easily slip
and tumble over the edges. These areas amongst others have now been
protected with wooden barriers with signs warning visitors to be
A series of six interpretative panels will be produced as part of
this project. Two will describe the storehouse foundations and slave
quarter area. The remaining four will be placed strategically within
the remains of the fort in order to describe the former rooms of the
fort for visitors.
Because of the mode of disbursement of the funds certain works on
the CFAO Building remain to be completed. These are mainly, the
doors and windows, roofing, the completion of wall works and
plastering of the walls. These are to be completed when the final
25% grant fund are received.
Another important expected outcome of the project is the adaptive
re-use of restored CFAO Building. The plan outlined in the project
application to turn the building to community use as a restaurant,
accommodation facility and retail outlet for local produce, still
subsists. This has been borne in mind during restoration phase by
making provision for additional doors and windows in the appropriate
spaces to increase ventilation/air circulation within the building.
Talks have also been initiated with the Village Development
Committees of Albreda and Juffureh with a view to establishing a
modus operandi for such an enterprise. The initial plan is to work
on a project that will empower the women of the two villages
financially and serve as a good example of community empowerment
A caretaker has been assigned the specific duty of regularly
inspecting and cleaning the CFAO Building which still stands without
a roof. His duties also include clearing the vicinity of any plant
growth and ensuring that water does not percolate within the
building, albeit, the floors of the building have been treated with
cement plaster in a gradient that will allow all rain water to drain
out of the building.
Continuous assessment of the integrity of the structure and size of
James Island including annual mapping of the shoreline and island
perimeter at high and low tide will be undertaken as well as
systematic surface collection whenever deposits are exposed and at
risk to collection by tourists visiting the island. Conclusion/Results
On the whole the project objectives have been achieved. It will be
recalled that the project was conceived against the backdrop of the
devastation caused by the heavy rains and storms of the 2008 rainy
season which inter-alia led to the collapse of the north east
bastion of James Island and caused extensive damage to the roof of
the Kerbatch Museum. The destroyed James Island bastion has been
reconstructed and the Kerbatch Museum completely refurbished. Apart
from the sea defences which have been introduced at both James
Island and the CFAO Building to retard the devastating effects of
wave action on the historic fabric, both structures have been
consolidated and do not stand any risk of deteriorating further. The
restoration of the CFAO Building once completed will provide a
facility that will enable the communities of Juffureh and Albreda to
make use of the building and derive direct benefits from the
heritage that have stood within their midst for centuries. In
addition visitor safety at both sites have been improved, and site
interpretation, especially at James Island have been greatly
enhanced with the introduction of a model of the fort and Island.