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NCAC publishes The Gambia Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory Catalogue

By Yunus S Saliu

Following the Gambia’s ratification of the UNESCO 2003 Convention on the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and with its commitment to the safeguarding of ICH element in its territory, The Gambia through the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has presented the published Gambia Intangible Cultural Heritage inventory catalog on Wednesday, 20th December 2023 to the general public.

The presentation of this national pilot inventory catalog with the participation of different communities in The Gambia was held at the National Museum, Banjul.

Safeguarding The Gambia’s ICH was a project based on strengthening national capacities for safeguarding ICH and contributing to sustainable development in The Gambia and was developed, while the implementation commenced in 2022.

The project was implemented within the framework of the Culture Programme of the UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar, in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in The Gambia, and in line with the objectives of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Commenting on the process of the completed project, Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of the NCAC explained that the capacity-building component of the project included a series of training and technical guidance provided by two international ICH facilitators, held an introductory meeting for relevant stakeholders to share general objectives and obligations of safeguarding ICH and followed with series of training workshops attended by government officials, technical staff and future trainers.

Also, “We conducted community-based inventorying to deepen the national ICH facilitators’ understanding of the concept of safeguarding, associated ethical principles and enhance their skills in developing realistic ICH safeguarding plans.”

So, the knowledge and skills acquired from these trainings provided a foundation for selected trainees to carry out ICH inventorying of 18 ICH elements in 6 regions in The Gambia.

Expatiating on the contents of The Gambia ICH Catalogue, the Director General of the NCAC said six elements of The Gambia’s ICH inventoried during the practical exercise from Banjul and Greater Banjul Area in December 2022, including the Hunting Devil, Traditional Wedding Ceremony, Baby Wrapper, Traditional Gardening Technique, Oyster Harvesting.

From the West Coast Region, he said it is 3 elements which are Community Tribunal, Kayegak/Ja Nyurak (traditional wrestling), the Cultural Practice of Kumpo, Butusob (traditional dance), and from North Bank Region it was 6 elements including Playing of the Tabulo, Bamba Malayandoo (the sacred crocodile pool), Koo Bondoo (salt mining), Sutoo Kankurang Aadoo (the night Kankurang), Tibadaa and Tibang Singo (thatching), Kayaa, Kojewo, Dolingo, Bamoo (traditional fishing techniques).

In the Lower River Region, it is also six elements. They are Foday Kabba Dumbuya La Tariko (the story of Foday Kaba Dumbuya), Nyansing Denkiloo, Barawuloo, Jiidaano and Korondo (rain rituals), Moofing Jaaraloo (traditional healing), Danayaa and Fayrlaa (traditional hunting). In the Central River Region, it was six elements are Lip and Gum Tattooing, Tabaah Ndaal (pottery), Munkutuwo (rice paste-cake festival) Bang Doikuwo (knitting of bamboo stitches), Ndewtungu (Fula traditional wedding ceremony).

He outlined further that three elements of the Gambia ICH were also inventoried from the Upper River Region which Wurundoo (weaving), Teng Dolo Soo, Kawa Wak, Jam Sengar, Chokgol Konjam The Nyejeh (palm wine tapping), and Wulakono Dutoo (wild mango).

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Yunus S Saliu

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