By Ndey Sowe
Joining the rest of the world to celebrate and commemorate the importance of International Women’s Day (IWD) in The Gambia, the Network of Women in The Arts in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture and Alliance Francaise, on Friday awarded twelve women for their excellent performances in the arts. The award night titled “Women In The Art Awards Night 2023”, took place at the Ebunjan Theatre in Kanifing, and was attended by the Minister of Youth and Sport, Bakary Badgie, Mayor Ahmed Talib Bensouda, Mustapha Njie, CEO of Taf Holdings among others.
The twelve women who were awarded in different categories included Ida Saine Conteh who received an award for excellence in fashion; Janet Bajan Young (AKA Aunty Janet) who received excellence in theatre and film; Sambou Susso, who received excellence in music; Grace Chapman for excellence in theatre and education; Lena Nian for excellence in photography; Patience Godwin Sonko for excellence in literary arts; Ruth Carol for excellence in painting; Isatou Fofana for excellence in culture management; Juka F Jabang for excellence in women life time achievement in thearts; Fatou Sowe for excellence in arts teaching; Gaye Njorro for excellence in women business in the arts and Ida Jobe for excellence in women cultural journalism.
In her opening remarks, Matty Jobe-Manka, founder of the Network thanked everyone for celebrating the remarkable day as she gave an in-depth background on the Network. She dilated on the award night saying it was meant to celebrate women and their contribution to the arts sector; That the it was also used to showcase Gambian women’s works from fashion to handicrafts and locally made and packaged products with a step forward in a longer-term cultural experiment that hopes to affect the way Gambians interact with art on a daily basis. She disclosed that she was inspired by the good works of some of the women in the arts sector to set up the network and as well the maiden award which will be held yearly, henceforth.
Hassoum Ceesay, Director of NCAC welcomed the general audience while applauding the people at the award night for taking their time to attend and celebrate with “our women.” That in recognition of women in the arts, the NCAC recently conducted a new regulation on the National Endowment Fund for women in arts and as well validated a first-ever nationwide study on the condition of female artists.
Speaking earlier, the Kanifing Municipal Council Mayor, Talib Ahmed Bensouda congratulated the awardees while thanking The Network members for the great initiative. He outlined some of the achievements of his Council in supporting the arts sector for the past five years and said among the projects undertaken by his Council to benefit the arts sector is a fourth KM park with projects to enhance the sector. That when completed, the project will allow writers, poets and artists in general a place to grow. That the KMC also established a community radio free of charge for the arts sector to benefit from and promote artistic programs.
On his part, the Minister of Youth and Sport Bakary Badjie, congratulated all the awardees saying “we have to continue celebrating them (women) in multiple years to come, for the good work they are doing.”