‘Culture: integral in development’

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Nancy Njie, the secretary of state for Tourism and Culture, has said that culture is becoming more recognised as an integral component in the country’s socio-economic process.

SoS Njie made this remark as she delivered the opening statement yesterday at a four-day workshop on music, dance and drama, organised by the University of The Gambia (UTG), in collaboration with the Education through Culture and Communication Organisation (ECCO) and the Norwegian College of Dances, at the Sunset Hotel in Kotu.

The Tourism SoS said this trend is manifested in the weight given to cultural affairs by the government, through the support of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) - the institution mandated to coordinate research on the preservation, development and celebration of our national heritage.

"It is therefore my fervent belief that by the end of this workshop, the recommendations will encourage the setting up of ensembles, troupes and drama groups at the national level,” she told the workshop participants. She further pointed out that this will further encourage local artists by giving support to the development and dissemination of the performing arts, citing the significance of the involvement of the UTG and others.

The SoS stated her department’s continued support for arts and culture programmes that can provide access to and improve on the capacities of the young and old in the communities, to give creative expression to the diversity of our heritage and the promise of the future.

“The vision of the government of The Gambia, under the visionary leadership of Dr Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, is to integrate the country’s cultural assets into an essential fabric of governing the country. And, also, to integrate cultural heritage into our departmental planning for the economic well-being of our people in the long term,” she said.

SoS Njie, however, maintained that the government recognised the importance of tourism and culture and their linkages with the national vision for development.

For his part, Professor Andreas Steigen, the outgoing vice-chancellor of the UTG, said the purpose of the seminar was to mark the commencement of the process of establishing a faculty of music, dance and drama within the UTG. He described the development as an important element in the development and preservation of national culture - something he said was the responsibility of his institution.

“West African music, dance and drama are the roots to artistic expression all over the world. It is my sincere hope and ambition that an institution of such nature can contribute to bringing home multi-cultural expressions in the Diaspora,” Professor Steigen said. He went on to say that music is the most international of all languages, arguing that for one to be a musician or an artist, they needed to practise it.

The outgoing UTG vice-chancellor further noted that these areas were carriers of tradition as they represented the basic human cultural expression.
He thanked the Norwegian College of dance and ECCO Gambia for their foresight in organising such an important forum.

Babucarr Sarr, the head of ECCO Gambia, described the day as historic, citing the fact that it came as the country endeavours to achieve its Silicon Valley objectives.

Mr Sarr revealed that the whole idea was conceived some years back, but that due to the lack of funds, they had not been able to put the idea into action. He thanked their Norwegian counterparts for their support in the implementation of the programme.

Other speakers at the ceremony included Ann Kristin Norun, the principal of DNBH, and Guro GH Broste, and the general director of ECCO international.
The ceremony was attended by musicians, promoters, NCAC officials, a delegation from Norway, as well as senior officials of the UTG.

Author: by Sheriff Janko