The 11th Edition of the International Roots Festival officially opened Sunday evening at the Arch 22nd in Banjul, bringing together Africans within the continent and their counterparts in the Diaspora. The event is being organized by the Gambia government through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, under the patronage of the president of the Republic of The Gambia. The 11th edition of the International Roots Festival will be held in The Gambia from the 9th – 17th May 2014.
Among the international dignitaries are Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of the great Jamaican Pan-Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Dr. Rashidi Rukono, historian and author, Princess Beatrice of the Kingdom of Spain; Sizzla Kalongi, amongst a host of other ‘home-comers’.
Since 1996, the Festival has been creating the opportunity for Africans in Diaspora and those who trace their ancestral roots to the continent to reconnect with their roots to embrace the cultural norms and values and appreciate the natural beauty and endowments of the continent.It also gives visiting ‘home-comers’ the opportunity to be further enlightened about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which marks are still clearly visible at the various historical places such as the Kunta Kinteh Island formerly James Island, and so on.
The opening ceremony came hard on the heels of two major events – the ‘Night of the Griots’ and the Musical Jamboree, which were respectively held at the Ebunjang Theater in Kanifing and the Independence Stadium in Bakau as part of activities of the Festival.
The International Roots Festival is designed to encourage peoples of African Descent who reside within the Diaspora to further discover, re-affirm and re-embrace their ancestral identity through confronting a physical past.