By Ndey Sowe
Lamin Jarjou, Senior Programme Officer for UNESCO-NATCOM, has emphasised the need for culture to be an integral part of national development efforts.
“Among other things, it is only through the recognition of the cultural dimension of development that our country can chart a course of development that will meet the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people,” Jarjou said while reading a statement on behalf of the of the Acting Secretary General of UNESCO-NATCOM Maimuna Sidibeh.
Jarjou was speaking on Thursday, May 5, 2022 during a press conference held at the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in Banjul as activities marking African World Heritage Day.
The day was held under the local theme: “Schools, Community Guides, Teachers and UNESCO World Heritage: A Useful Discussion”, while the international theme is: “African Heritage as a Source of Humanity, Innovation, and Resilience”.
This year’s theme highlighted the importance of youth engagement, as organisers believed it is through the involvement of youth that heritage will continue to be the lifeblood of contemporary African culture.
Since the proclamation of African World Heritage Day in 2015 by the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, every 5th May, African culture and natural, tangible and intangible heritage is celebrated across the globe with the aim of raising awareness of the benefits of its promotion and preservation, as well as the related challenges the continent faces.
To celebrate this day, UNESCO in collaboration with African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and their partners, organize a series of events across the continent that will highlight the resilience, opportunities, and wealth to be gained from African heritage, as well as explore solutions to the challenges facing the continent.
In this regard, Jarjou explained that there are different activities in their envelop of celebration such as; Jazz Music was celebrated as a World cultural heritage on March 30th, a press release was made on April 26th, and on May 12th they will be engaging with students of Budduk and Chamen Upper and Senior School respectively at the Stone Circles in Kerr Batch, CRR.
“In the face of climate change, armed conflict and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, among other challenges, African countries must ensure that their remarkable heritage is able to adopt and thrive in today’s environment. In this light, the African Union (AU) declared the year 2021 as the “AU Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the African We Want,” Jarjou outlined.
He also thanked UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office in Dakar for funding the series of activities that mark their celebration of African World Heritage Day this year 2022 May 5th.
Jarjou assured that the UNESCO / NCAC partnership shall continue to accentuate and see a new day at every moment.
Mamat Sallah, Assistant Director Museums and Monuments at the NCAC, noted that African World Heritage Day is an opportunity for the world, particularly Africans, to celebrate the continent’s unique cultural and natural heritage.
Sallah reminded that in 2003, the Kunta Kinteh Island and its related sites were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list; in 2006, the Stone Circles of Senegambia were also inscribed into the World Heritage list as a trans-boundary property.
“The Gambia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites have great potential to improve livelihoods and support strong and sustainable resilient communities against hunger, unemployment and negative effects of climate change,” Sallah remarked.