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NCAC Staff Returns From Underwater Archaeology Field Expedition

By Yunus S Saliu

With a commitment to enhancing the expertise of its personnel in underwater archaeology, the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has taken significant steps following The Gambia’s recent ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention. One of the NCAC staff members recently embarked on a 15-day underwater cultural archaeology field training school on Santiago Island, Cabo Verde.

The participant, Musa Foon, Site and Museum Attendant at Kankurang Centre, Maccarthy, explained that the field school was held in two sites, Ciudad Velha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Praia, capital of Cabo Verde.

The aim of the field school, he said, was to enhance the skill of young African professionals in underwater archaeology and museum collection management, and also to create a collaborative platform where participants can share their experience and knowledge in underwater archaeology. The field school also provided the opportunity to celebrate World Oceans Day in June which was used to highlight the role of underwater cultural heritage in achieving the objectives of the Decade of Ocean Sciences 2021-2030.

The Field School was organized by UNESCO and supported by the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Cabo Verde.

According to him, the Field School is in line with UNESCO’s program to train specialists in the research and protection of underwater cultural heritage.

Detailing his work and experience, “I work on an Island that has a vast resource of underwater cultural heritage including the jetties, boat wrecks, wells, and others linked to the famous trade and exploration of River Gambia. Above all, I believe that underwater cultural heritage can be a new asset in The Gambia, because of the important role of the River Gambia in commerce and navigation.”

Meanwhile, he thanked the UNESCO 2001 Convention Secretariat and the Cabo Verde authorities for supporting his participation in the course, saying “My sincere thanks go to Moussa Wele of UNESCO Dakar Regional Office for West Africa for actively supporting my participation.”

Musa Foon added that henceforth, NCAC would work with partners like UNESCO and Heritage Management Organization to hold small in-house seminars to enable him to share his experience and valorize underwater cultural heritage management in The Gambia. In addition, he commended the NCAC, National Assembly, and Ministry of Tourism and Culture for forward-thinking in ratifying the 2001 Convention.

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Yunus S Saliu

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