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Georgetown Bicentenary Commemoration: A Big Success (I)

By Alassan Njie (Malcolm X Jr.)

Where would I begin? Certainly, I want to say that until we agree that history makes us understand the past, know the present, and help us prepare for the future, we will continue to yonder at the mercy of its custodians. Until we understand that history is not a mere story and that it is not a lie, we will continue to embrace the rhythm of its custodians. Until we understand that we need to do research, learn, unlearn, and relearn, we will continue to play the role of the boy in the house of its custodians. Until we understand that culture is as old as creation, nothing has changed and that there is only a deviation of trend, we will continue to demoralize what is divine and purely meant for us. Jimmy Cliff was right when he said “A tree is still a tree,
Though it sheds its leaves when winter falls;
But it blooms again in Spring
Because it did not lose its roots at all.”

Thank you, Ministry of Tourism and Culture with its satellite institutions, the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), and Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) for organizing such a magnificent event marking the commemoration of the two hundred years (200 years) since the contact of the historical Island of Georgetown with Europe and European cultures and traditions dated 23rd April 1823. Culture becomes intergenerational evidence when it is conjoined with foreign elements. Therefore, Janjanbureh is one of the Gambia’s greatest historical places entirely entangled with man’s most fascinating heritages.

Janjangbureh is not called the Home of the Kankurang for the love of the Kankurang festival, it is a bedrock of diverse people and cultures who live in harmony and embrace acculturation and inter-ethnic relationships. Janjangbureh as tiny as it is, many years ago housed the name of the whole Central River Region called McCarthy Island Division. We must not forget that the Island is a source of oxygen for Gambian history and that it stands at the center stage of exporting Gambian culture and tradition to the outside world. Hence, it is a hub for tourists because of the rich culture and beautiful lifestyle of the people.

We must hail the instrumental role the Island has played and still playing in the socio-economic and political development of The Gambia. It may be less significant to mention names. However, we are aware that people from the Island have served and are still serving diligently and tremendously well in different sectors of The Gambia government and highly respected NGOs. Additionally, Armitage High School has always produced some of the finest brains in the country who are not necessarily from the Island but have played pivotal roles in national development. Not only that, the Island was highlighted as one of the greatest places in West Africa to accommodate repatriated free slaves who were not all taken from the shores of The Gambia 200 years ago but across other countries in Africa. Could you imagine how those people integrated with the native people and lived a good and prosperous life? Janjangbureh is a blessed Island.

Adding to its geographical influence and tranquil environment among a host of reasons, it has inspired the transfer of the seat of power of the former kingdom of Fulladu from the Cassamance Region to the Central River Region, Kesser Kunda. Just like the length of a hand stretch, it is a hub for human civilization and has ever remained unshakable in its influence on regional, and national affairs.

Ultimately, I may want to draw the curtains here and bring you in my next episode the themes of the Bicentenary commemoration, experience, and significance.

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Yunus S Saliu

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