McCarthy Island also known as Georgetown would in April clock 200 years of occupation, the Hounourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, on Thursday, 14th December 2022 inaugurated a National Organising Committee (NOC) for the 200 Years Festival for MacCarthy Island Homecoming Festival, at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute, Kanifing.
In what he called a response to national duty at a short notice, Honourable Hamat N.K. Bah welcomed the selected members of the NOC and thanked them for being part of the ambitious and unique project that his ministry with the support of the entire government set to a hold a big cultural and artistic festival to mark 200 years of the occupation of MacCarthy Island which is now called Georgetown or Janjanbureh.”
This bicentenary, he said, cannot go unnoticed or uncelebrated “because it marked the beginning of the arrival into this region of one of the most productive segments of our population, now called the Krio, also Aku, as the Liberated Africans.”
Minister Bah narrated that following the purchase of the settlement then called Lemani, the British did not only change the name of the Island to McCarthy Island after Sir Charles MacCarthy, who was the British Governor General for West African Settlements. “But they also quickly went about establishing a new settlement which they called Georgetown and this place soon gained significance as a refuge for our brothers and sisters liberated by the Royal Navy from marauding slave ships. These lucky souls who almost were but never became slaves, were settled among other places in The Gambia, at MacCarthy Island.
He narrated further that the Island became the capital of the British possessions in the River Gambia and for many years was ruled separately from Bathurst, now Banjul. The settlement soon became a melting pot of Liberated Africans, and other ethnic groups living side by side with the European colonizers, in harmony.
The Tourism and Culture Minister disclosed that the Ministry’s task is to use this interesting history of resilience and determination and survival using cultural expressions and manifestations in a two-day festival to coincide with the 200th anniversary of these events which fall exactly on 23 April 2023.
Although, “I have been told that due to Ramadan calendar exigencies, this exact date will be untenable for the start of the festival but we can do the events immediately after the fasting period, and I am optimistic that we can pull off a wonderful festival,” Minister Bah noted.
He thanked and commended the members for their acceptance to be part of the committee while assuring them of his ministry’s full support.