By Ndey Sowe
World Heritage education was what kept students from Essau Senior Secondary School and Albreda Senior Secondary School last week engaged in a series of school-based activities centered around the outstanding universal values of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in the communities, namely, the Kunta Kinteh Island off Jufureh and the Fort Bullen in Barra.
Close to 60 students, tour guides and heritage site attendants highlighted some basic historical information about the role of Fort Bullen in the enforcement of the Abolition Act of 1807, which stopped trading in human beings in the British empire, and also the negative effects that slavery has brought on African communities from the 15th to 19th centuries.
Under the support of the German National Commission for UNESCO and Federal Foreign Office through their SoS African Heritage Project 2021, the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) engaged the students and the guides at Fort Bullen and Kunta Kinteh Island, Jufureh, in an interface to amplify World Heritage education through tour of the sites, answering of worksheets based on the significance of the sites and then drama sketches by the students.
At Fort Bullen UNESCO World Heritage Site in Barra, students of Essau Senior Secondary mounted a brief drama on the abolition movement led by Granville Sharpe and William Wilberforce to end the inhuman trade in slaves across the Atlantic.
In one scene, a student actor entered the House of Commons during their long debate on the Abolition Act to appeal strongly to the MPs to vote to enact the anti-slavery law.
“How can it be right for one human to sell another human? Are we all not created by God?” Asked the abolitionist, with some MPs shouting ‘Yea, yea’.
In another scene, a student acted as lord Mansfield who in his 1772 judgement said that an escaped slave cannot be enslaved again which legal decision made history and began the decline of slave trade.
At Albreda water front, overlooking the Kunta Kinteh Island Unesco World Heritage Site, students of Albreda Senior Secondary School staged a drama on the guilty Gambian chief or king who sold his own people to the European slave traders, and who became remorseful and apologized to his own people undertaking never to sell his own people again.
“This scene shows that our African chiefs and kings were also in some ways abolitionists as those who sold their own people later recanted and stopped dealing in human beings,” explained a history teacher.
In more depressing scene of the drama, the capture into slavery of Kunta Kinteh in 1767 at the bush in Jufureh was reenacted which brought tears to many eyes.
The two days event was very interesting, according to the students and guides who took part, as it showed them how Gambian UNESCO World Heritage Sites matter in improving educational attainment.