By Yunus S Saliu
Joining the world to celebrate and commemorate the importance of International Women’s Day (IWD) in The Gambia, the Network of Women in The Arts in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture and Alliance Francaise on Friday awarded 12 women for their excellent performances in the arts.
The award night titled Women in the Art Awards Night 2023 took place at the Ebunjan Theatre, Kanifing, and was attended by high-profile people who include The Minister of Youth and Sports – Hon Bakary Badgie, Mayor Ahmed Talib Bensouda, Mr Mustapha Njie – CEO of Taf Holdings among others.
The 12 women awarded in different categories included Ida Saine Conteh who received an award for Excellence in Fashion; Janet Bajan Young (AKA Aunty Janet) received Excellence in Theatre and Film; Sambou Susso – Excellence in Music; Grace Chapman – Excellence Award in Theatre In Education; Lena Nian – Excellence in Photography; Patience Godwin Sonko – Excellence in Literary Arts; Ruth Carol – Excellence in Painting; Isatou Fofana – Excellence in Culture Management; Juka F Jabang – Excellence in Women Life Time Achievement in The Arts; Fatou Sowe – Excellence In Arts Teaching; Gaye Njorro – Excellence in Women Business in The Arts and Ida Jobe bagged Excellence in Women Cultural Journalism Award.
In her opening remarks, Matty Jobe-Manka, Founder of the Network of Women in The Arts thanked everyone present to celebrate the remarkable day with the entire women while she gave an in-depth background of the Network.
She dilated on the award night saying it was meant to celebrate women and their contribution to the arts sector. Also, the Women Art Fest was used to showcase Gambian women’s works from fashion to handicrafts and locally made and packaged products with a step forward in a longer-term cultural experiment that hopes to affect the way Gambians interact with art on daily basis.
Meanwhile, Madam Jobe-Manka disclosed that she was inspired by the good works of some of the women in the arts sector to set up the network and as well the maiden award which will hold every year.
Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of NCAC welcomed the general audience while applauding the high-profile people at the award night for taking their time to attend and celebrate with “our women.”
He explained that in recognition of women in the arts, the National Centre for Arts and Culture recently conducted a new regulation on the National Endowment Fund for women in arts and as well validated it – a first-ever nationwide study on the condition of female artists. He quickly added that more so, 100 female artists have been trained to make them better professionals.
Speaking earlier, the Kanifing Municipal Council Mayor, Ahmed Talib Bensouda congratulated the awardees while thanking The Network of Women In the Arts for the great initiative.
He outlined some of the achievements of his council while saying the KMC has been supporting the arts sector for the past five years and among projects undertaken by its council to benefit the arts sector including the recent 4th KM park with projects that will enhance the arts sector.
The Mayor noted that when the project for the arts sector is completed, it will allow writers, poets, and arts in general to have a place to grow. Also, the KMC-established community radio will be free of charge which the Gambian arts sector can benefit to promote artistic programs.
This arts and culture center project, he noted “will add value to the sector and provide an opportunity for digital artists and as well provide development.”
He, therefore, encouraged everyone to work towards supporting the women as their role is very important saying “I am happy to be part of the gathering to celebrate you (women) and your achievements,” while assuring them of KMC support towards arts and culture.
Minister Bakary Badgie as well congratulated all the awardees saying “we have to continue celebrating them (women) in the multiple years to come for the good work you (they)are doing.”
He added women in the arts are huge as it talks about women in general while expressing that the Women in Excellence Awards will serve as an inspiration and make them do more.