By Yunus S Saliu
National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) in partnership with the NATCOM UNESCO and other stakeholders from the Banjul community and other institutions, on Monday, 16th October 2023 validated the report of the inventories heritage of Banjul.
The validation forum was held at the Methodist Church Hall in Dobson, Banjul, and was attended by different stakeholders across Banjul.
Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of the NCAC thanked participants for their large turnout at the validation forum.
He stated that in early 2023 NCAC benefited from a UNESCO Participation Program to inventorise the heritage of Banjul to have confirmed data on its significant origins and states of conservation so that it can allow the government to make an informed decision to protect and valorise them to build tourism, provide employment for Banjul youths and cultivate a sense of pride among Gambians, “because Banjul as the capital belongs to all.”
After six weeks of work, he disclosed, 150 heritage sites and visuals were identified and inventoried including wharves, krriting houses, churches, mosques, buildings, fanals.
“Our partners included Banjul City Council, NATCOM UNESCO, Banjul NAMS, BCC Councillors, religious leaders,’ historians, architects, Department of Lands and Survey,” he noted while thanking UNESCO for the funding, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and the Gambia Tourism Board, elected representatives of Banjul for their supports.
Speaking on behalf of Ms. Maimuna Sidibeh, acting Secretary-General of the NATCOM UNESCO, Mr Lamin Jarjou, Senior Program Officer of NATCOM UNESCO expressed gratitude to participants and all those who partaken in the document for validation, in an extension the NCAC for coming up with this valuable and important project.
He said the inventories of the Banjul Heritage Sites is very dear to the heart of UNESCO and apart from that, it is the capital city of The Gambia which makes it more important, saying in the past Banjul played the role of garrison where slavery was stopped and among other positive roles.
He described Banjul as a unique place in The Gambia noting that Banjul city and McCarthy known as Janjanbureh are the only two places in the country that are planned towns, cities, or settlements in The Gambia whereby people live according to designated areas.
Therefore, he urged stakeholders to try and see what is left of Banjul – the history is kept alive and Banjul has produced a lot of legends that need to be documented.
“We are happy to be associated with this project and we hope more ideas can be generated. From this, we can promulgate the historic Banjul and take this to sensitization for people to know about the city. We are also happy that the National Centre for Arts and Culture and Ministry of Tourism and Culture will want to present Banjul as a tentative list for enlisting in UNESCO Heritage Site and pray that it becomes part of the UNESCO Heritage Site.”
He, therefore, congratulated the MoTC, and NCAC for this final product whose expectation of everyone is that Banjul be enlisted on the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Mamat Sallah, assistant director of Museum Monument and Heritage thanked all who participated in the exercise right from the beginning to the validated stage.
He highlighted the process of the inventories starting from orientation, mapping, identification, and data creation among other stages, noting after the validation “we will continue to improve on it and come up with policy on all these places that we want to documented.”