By Yunus S Saliu
The residents of Barra/Niumi community in conjunction with the National Centre for Arts and Culture among other partners over the weekend celebrated the 3rd edition of the Niumi Barra Fort Bullen Festival in a grand style in Barra, North Bank Region.
The three days festival kicked started on the 2nd and ended on the 4th of January 2022 and was attended by different dignitaries Momodou Jang Jallow, Head of Liason Office Senegalo Gambia Secretariat in Dakar, Honourables Tamsir Cham Member of Parliament of Lower Niumi North Bank Region, Omar Jammeh Member of Parliament of Janjanbureh constituency Central River Region.
The festival which was supposed to hold its fifth edition this year was halted by the emergence of the Coronavirus which was later declared a pandemic by WHO in 2020.
Commenting on the festival, Honourable Tamsir Cham, National Assembly member for the Lower Niumi constituency said culture and tradition are one of their inheritance.
Among other things, he noted, “the Niumi Fort Bullen Festival is here to propagate our heritage because the festival is used to celebrate the culture of the region, especially that Niumi/Barra is one among the first communities in The Gambia to interact with the white people known as colonial masters when they arrived in the country.”
As a young teenager in those days, he remembered how inquisitive he and some other age mates were to know what Fort Bullen stands for but when they know about the history they used to be frightened of the place as regards slavery.
“So, when we were eventually escorted to enter inside we found that it is interesting because as per the history, it was built to combat slavery,” he remembered the olden days as a child.
Honourable Cham called on every resident of the Barra and Niumi communities to embrace the festival because “very important parts of the Gambia history begin from this community.”
He commended the organizer of the festival for a very good intention of creating the festival while he encouraged them to work with the Ministries of Youth and Tourism and Culture to make it a national festival.
Honourable Omar Jammeh Member of Parliament for Janjanbureh Constituency extolled the organizer of the festival and disclosed that a partnership between the communities of Barra and Janjanbureh is now formed to consolidate the gap. “Because when it comes to developing culture as a national product and the historical links between the two communities in terms of slave trade needs collaboration between the two communities,” Honourable Jammeh stated.
He, therefore, encouraged the organizer of the Niumi Barra Heritage Festival to work with the community to boost the festival.
Aba Hydara, Head Promoters of Artistic Creativity and Excellence who doubles as the festival initiator thanked everyone that attended the 3rd edition of the festival.
In an extension, he thanked all the supporters for helping to make the festival hold and partners who have been with them to date since it was launched in 2018.
This year 3-day festival was as usual celebrated with different activities while different cultural troupes from North Bank Region, Banjul, and other regions performed throughout the festival.