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Gambia: Heritage Management Organization Opens Office, Training Centre in Barra

By Yunus S Saliu

Heritage Management Organization known as Heritage has officially opened a new office and marvelous training centre at Barra in North Bank Region (NBR) on Saturday, 27th October 2023 with the utmost aim of bringing together the local communities to learn more about cultural heritage management best practices.

The newly open Heritage office and training centre is part of the Heritage’s HerMaP Gambia Program co-funded by the European Union and the place will give birth to new ideas and projects, network, and others.

The inauguration brought together different stakeholders from the region and beyond with lots of tourism, culture, and heritage icons.

Ms. Enrica Pellacani, EU HoC expressed delight about the opening of the new office and the training centre.

Ms. Pellacani who experienced her first ferry journey from Banjul to Barra to see the area that she had heard so much about disclosed that the EU-funded program ‘Initiative for Heritage Conservation – HerMaP’ was designed to strengthen local civil society and local authorities as partners and stakeholders by developing cultural heritage management skills.

This project, she emphasised, is implemented by the Heritage Management Organization, and NGO which aims to transform the world’s heritage assets into dynamic sources of learning, community identity, and sustainable economic development.

She noted that over the past two years, they have been collaborating and empowering civil society organizations as essential partners in promoting social development, inclusive growth, and sustainability within the cultural and creative industries.

“Over 250 people from the heritage and tourism sectors, from 6 districts have received training on community engagement, oral history, Museum Redesigning, Heritage Interpretation as well as Community and Economic Development,” she informed the gathering.

More so, over 30 heritage managers were also been trained to help manifest a creative wave that will enable The Gambia to preserve its heritage and leverage it to create great quality jobs for its youth, she mentioned.

However, “the launching of this brand new office will help further to achieve the objectives of the project, as it will serve as a co-working hub, a training centre and a tourist information centre for the local area. And also open to partners to conduct training courses,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ms. Enrica Pellacani was pleased to see that their implementing partner, Heritage Management Organization, put the local communities at the centre of its activities.

Delivering a speech on behalf of Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture, Mamat Sallah, Assistant Director of Museum and Monuments – NCAC described the new office as a center where the past meets the present and encouraged them to be the guardians of the country’s collective memory.

“Our heritage is not just a collection of buildings, artifacts, and traditions; it is a living testament to the stories of those who came before us. It is a window into our shared history, a source of inspiration, and a bridge that connects us to our roots. It is a treasure trove of knowledge, waiting to be unlocked and shared with generations yet to come.

In a world that constantly evolves, it is vital that we actively preserve and cherish our heritage. The Heritage Management Office has been established with a singular mission: to be the guardians of our collective memory, to safeguard our historical treasures, and to promote an appreciation for the unique tapestry of our culture,” Mr Mamat stated.

The Assistant Director of Museum and Monuments said their team of passionate experts, historians, and preservationists will work tirelessly to ensure that the country’s heritage is not only protected but also celebrated, adding “We will collaborate with local communities, scholars, and organizations to research, conserve, and promote the rich legacy that makes our community special.”

He made it clear to the stakeholders that the newly opened office is not just a physical space; it is a promise to forebears and a gift to descendants.

Mr Ismaila Sambou – Director of Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) urged community leadership members, stakeholders, and heritage-related organizations to continue working together towards accelerating the actualization of heritage development in the country.

Preserving heritage, he said, fosters a dynamic economic landscape triggering a pyramid of opportunities for sustainable development, and “heritage tourism, driven by historical sites and cultural event, not only generate significant revenue but also fuels jobs creation.”

Maria Kagkelidou Press and Communications Manager for the Heritage Management Organization thanked the attendees while announcing some of their future online heritage management workshops for 2023-2024 which include interpretive writing for natural and cultural heritage, climate change, community engagement and interpretation, project management for heritage managers, temporary exhibition design: agile exhibitions, community and economic development, communication strategy and strategic marketing for cultural organizations, fundraising for cultural heritage organizations, conservation II: first aid for finds, strategic planning for heritage manages, conservation I: introduction to the general principles of cultural heritage conservation.

Amadou Danso of Juffureh-Albreda Youth Society (JAYS), Aba Hydara-Barra Community Committee Member, Muhammed Sonko of Berending, Yahya Al Matarr Jobe, Gambian former Deputy Head of Mission UNESCO, Dr. Adama Bah Board Chairperson of Institute of Tourism and Travel of The Gambia (ITTOG) among others delivered a remarkable speech at the opening.


Yunus S Saliu

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