Hasssoum Ceesay, Director General of the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC), made the announcement The point newspaper in a pre-festival interview at his office in The Gambia’s National Museum on Monday.
DG Ceesay announced that this year’s festival takes on a new dimension as the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), partners and authorities have learned and gained many experiences from past editions. “That’s why we’ve been working to enrich the content of the 2022 edition.”
He added that part of the festival’s new dimension includes ministers from across Africa and beyond taking part in this year’s celebration. Ministers from Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Kenya, among others, have been invited.
“We also expect many international visitors, more tourists, Gambians at home and in the diaspora because Janjangbureh is one of the oldest communities in The Gambia,” explained DG Hassoum Ceesay.
He also said that this year there will be an increase in the number of cultural groups.
According to him, NCAC will also work with YEP; GTBoard; GTHI and LOC set up a tourism forum to rejuvenate Kankurang as a cultural identity and also promote tourism.
Ceesay said the government will inaugurate the new youth center in McCarthy as part of the festival. The center has been refurbished by ITC-YEP and the Gambian government and is intended to serve as an information center for any visitor to the island and as an additional feature to make the island a tourist destination.
About the Kankurang
In short, kankurang is a masquerade tradition associated with the rites of passage or initiation into manhood in Mandinka communities in The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau. In The Gambia, the tradition is closely linked to the island of Janjangbureh, where a special sacred place, Tinyangsita, is dedicated to the practice of the tradition. In 1993, the Kankurang Festival started in Janjangbureh to preserve and honor the tradition.
The National Center for Arts and Culture announced the revival of the festival in 2018 after a hiatus of several years and with the support of the EU-funded Youth Empowerment Project and in collaboration with the community and other tourism stakeholders.