By Ndey Sowe
Hassoum Cessay, the Director for the National Center of Arts and Culture (NCAC) has disclosed that Gambians during the 18 and 19 centuries have contributed to the development of exploration in The Gambia.
“The site is important because it shows Gambian’s contribution to the development of exploration in 18 and 19 century.
Director Ceesay made this disclosure on Sunday, 22 November, 2020 during the ten-day tour of the Minister of Tourism and Culture hospitality and cultural sites across the country.
The delegation visited Mungo Park Memorial Obelisk located at Sami Karantaba Tenda in Central River Region (CRR).
The great Scottish explorer set-off his journey from the site in 1795 courtesy of the Royal African Society tasked to discover the source of River Niger. Mungo Park was killed in Nigeria in 1805 during his second expedition journey to discover the source of the River Niger.
The memorial Obelisk was built by the British Colonial Governor, Sir Hilary Rudoph Robert Blood, in memory of Mungo Park in 1944.
Director Ceesay, who is also a renowned historian, further said Hilary began the journey in May 1795 in The Gambia and after some months, the journey failed because the porters robbed him of his prosperities.
Hillary then went back to England, prepared and came back in 1805 to set out from Karantaba to find the source of River Niger. He almost succeeded but was killed just a few kilometers before the source of River Niger.
Ceesay said to the people of Scotland, Mungo Park was their number one hero and sees him as part of their history.
The Mungo Park is part of the projects that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is executing for Tourism Development Areas (TDA) across the country.
“Plans are on the way to refurbish the Mungo Park Obelisk and to construct a perimeter fence along the site as well a small museum and a ticket selling place. When we finish this project, the Marketing Department will also have a start to tab in that market”, Ceesay said.
For his part, Minster Hamat Bah said part of the plans they are preparing for the site is to collaborate with the National Road Authority and the Ministry of Works to have an access road to the said park.
Bah said the place is about three kilometers from the highway, thus he said a feeder road would facilitate access for users.
“The important thing to know as a country is, we need to value our past, and we need to value some of these very important assets”, he said.
Minister Bah said the current administration believes the country’s past should be used as a source of inspiration for the future.
“Knowing your history gives you the inspiration to move you forward in order to develop a country,” he said. “We believe that all these sites must be well preserved and protected. I think the hotel we are trying to get at Sami will serve really as an added value to Mungo Park.”