By Yunus S Saliu
The Gambia Copyright Office under the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) over the weekend commemorated this year’s World Book and Copyright Day under the theme – Indigenous Language as a Vehicle for Achieving Sustainable Development.
The daylong event was held at the Arch 22 (Never Again Memorial Arch) and it brought together different guests, music promoters, film producers, intellectuals, collecting society, and a guest speaker from Canada.
Copyright Day is annually celebrated on 23rd April by UNESCO and its partners across the globe to promote the enjoyment of books and culture of reading, provides a link between the past and the future as well as a bridge between generations and across cultures.
In his opening remarks on behalf of Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of NCAC, Sanna Jawara, the Copyright Officer, gave a comprehensive meaning of copyright, its relevance to individual works, and also its importance to the economy of the country.
Expatiating on the theme of the celebration, he said, promoting indigenous languages as a vehicle for achieving sustainable human development, languages are not only methods of communication but also extensive and complex systems of knowledge that have developed over decades.
“For indigenous people, languages did not only identify their origin or membership in a community but also carry the ethical values of their ancestors,” he disclosed.
However, he reminded everyone of the meaning of copyright saying it is certain uses of the work that are lawful only if they are done with the authorization of the owner and it offered legal protection to stakeholders in the cultural and creative industries “Copyright protection offered both economic and moral rights,” he noted.
Mr. Jawara iterated that this year’s celebration marked the first event of the Copyright Office in the public domain of the Gambia since its establishment under the NCAC while he used the opportunity to disclose the Copyright Office’s readiness to launch its Software for Royalty Collection as the WIPO already approved, this will mark the beginning of Royalty Collection in the country.
The guest speaker who delivered the keynote address, Mr Edmond Allmond of UREEQA Music and Copyright Consulting Firm, Canada gave an in-depth knowledge on intellectual property (IP) registration and copyright. Also, he talked about his education, career, and businesses which all centered on music and as well as his consulting firm.
Speaking on the theme of the day, he said language is means of communication which is important for people to appreciate who they are as focusing on language will allow people to understand their culture from the food, dress, how you sing, and the respect for the culture, the people.
Saying the level of such respect is highly important and must be the most important thing in the recognition of communiqué “Everything we do is communication – how we dress the cloth we wear that bring out joys in us and make us happy, and seeing the English speaking English language, the French-speaking the French language, this is not just a joy but education for us.”
With copyright, we have to understand first that lots of respect come from understanding those indigenous languages and what they represent while everyone should understand the meaning of ownership.
Mr Oko Drammeh, a music promoter shared his experience in the world of music and copyright with the audience noting that most Gambian stories are written by foreigners “While many of our cultures are practiced by foreigners. If we don’t mind, a time will come Gambians will be going to England, and other parts of Europe or America to study Kora, Jembe.”
He explained that human communication with God is through nature, the instruments people used are from trees and most of them have divine connections with the musicians separate from the fears of struggling through life “to the story you are told by your parents and great things predicted by ancestors.”
The music promoter icon, therefore, urged people “to protect the gift that God has given to us and focus on what we own.”
Ms. Sainey Ceesay, Marketing Manager for NCAC on behalf of the Copyright Officer under NCAC thanked the official sponsor of the event, Trust Bank Plc and Africell for the support and also appreciated the staff of NCAC for their positive roles in celebration of the day.