Hassoum Ceesay in a brief interview with this medium disclosed that the year’s engagement and achievements started with the fifth edition of the Kankurang Festival in Janjanbureh.
“It is a high-profile event and it was a very successful festival organised by the NCAC, Georgetown community, GTHI, GTBoard, and other partners,” Mr Ceesay said. “The edition was graced by Her Excellency Dr Isatou Touray, the former Vice President of The Gambia, the Governor of CRR at the time of the festival, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honourable Hamat N.K. Bah, and different dignitaries within The Gambia and neighbouring countries.”
During the year under review, he said the NCAC started implementing a two-year project funded by UNESCO to take record or inventory of the Gambia Intangible Cultural Heritage, “which never happened until now with the support of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage”.
He also outlined achievements made in respect of Gambian artistes during the year, which include book launching, lots of films premiering, theatre productions, and art exhibitions. “All these have gained momentum in the year. So, it is an eventful year as far as art and culture are concerned,” the NCAC boss stated.
“Another very important and impressive step forward,” he noted, “is the ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Convention of Underwater Cultural Heritage by The Gambia with the support of our Honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture – Hamat NK Bah and the support of the National Assembly Select Committee and Gambia legislature with our partners at the UNESCO National Commission. This will help us to protect the Underwater Cultural Heritage in this country.”
Among other achievements pointed out are the digitalisation of the oral archive in Fajara, the UNESCO-ASCHBERG programme, the successful conduct of the Miss Gambia Pageant 2022, successful different in-house training sessions for the centre staff and also different competitions organised and hosted by a group of young artistes led by ML Sowe, a book fair by the Young Writers Association of The Gambia supported by NCAC.
The centre’s ongoing projects include rehabilitation of the Mungo Park Obelisk site, the Kunta Kinteh Island jetty supported by UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC), which is almost completed, while the challenges in 2022 included capacity building, and increases in tasks and responsibilities as the arts sector has become one of the most nationally eventful units, for which “everyone wants us to present in all the regions”, he said.
DG Ceesay’s listings from the centre’s expectations for this year include updating the management plan for Kunta Kinteh Island legacy, the UNESCO Heritage sites, completion of the Mungo Park Memorial Obelisk rehabilitation work with the site museum, mausoleum known as Sir Dawda Memorial Museum, and the Centre at the National Assembly (under construction).
“And also we are planning the International Cultural Festival for MacCarthy Island known as Georgetown,” he outlined, saying: “All these are urgent matters on our tray.”