The president of the Republic has donated a cash amount of D50, 000 to the organising committee of the Bureng Cultural Festival.
The money is part of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh's contribution towards the successful hosting of the second edition of the Festival, slated for March 2nd 2013 in Bureng Village, Jarra East District of the Lower River Region (LRR).
The vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Wednesday on behalf of the Gambian leader, presented the money to the beneficiary during a brief presentation ceremony held at her office in State House.
The Bureng Cultural Festival, which is an annual event, is designed among other things to promote and showcase The Gambia's rich cultural diversity, thus promoting cultural tourism in the country.
Giving background detail of the gesture, the deputy permanent secretary at the Office of the President, Ismaila Sanyang, recalled that the organising committee of the Bureng Cultural Festival had earlier written to the Gambian leader, seeking for assistance to host the second edition of the cultural fiesta.
He noted that the organisation has been in existence for some time, adding that part of its activities is to showcase the country's rich cultural heritage.
He further noted that it was stated in the letter that the organisation hopes to showcase the country's rich cultural heritage through the Festival, as well as promote The Gambia as a potential tourism destination.
"It's on that basis that they wrote to the Gambian leader and he gave the approval that he will help them. Of course there were other developments that followed and eventually today we are here to grace the occasion," he added.
Sanyang said he felt honoured to be associated with the event, while urging the community to ensure its sustenance so as to strengthen and showcase the country's rich culture.
The National Assembly member for Jarra East, Hon. Bafai Saidykhan,
on behalf the community of Bureng and his entire constituency, welcomed the presidential boost.
The Jarra East NAM stressed that the annual festival has a lot of significance not only at the village or regional level, but also in helping to promote the country's tourism potentials.
He further remarked that the festival, among other things, is meant to promote old African cultures. He on behalf of the committee thanked President Jammeh through VP Njie-Saidy for the move. "We appreciate this D50,000 donated to the Bureng Cultural Festival committee and I want to assure him [President Jammeh] that the money will be put to good use," Hon. Saidykhan added.
Abdou Darboe, a member of the committee, on behalf of his colleagues, expressed similar sentiments. He also thanked the Gambian leader for the gesture.
The director of Performing Arts at the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Sheikh Omar Jallow, disclosed that the Council has identified the Bureng Cultural Festival in its calendar as one of the programmes of festivals in The Gambia.
He further disclosed that the Council worked with the organising committee for the first edition of the festival, adding that his institution has also studied the various festivals being staged in the country, especially the community festivals.
Jallow said they are trying to address one of the problems associated with festivals in connection to the tourism sector and that they are now focusing on promoting cultural tourism. "We took it upon ourselves as the institution responsible for culture, to really work with the community so as to develop eco and cultural tourism," he remarked.
Jallow then urged the people of Bureng to ensure the sustenance of the festival, as it is part of the national calendar of events.
Presenting the money, VP Njie-Saidy on behalf of President Jammeh thanked the community of Bureng for coming up with such an initiative.
She assured them that the Gambian leader has high regards for such ventures, citing the Kanilai International Cultural Festival and Roots Homecoming Festivals among a host of others.
"It's a good initiative and it is good for the younger generation to know their cultural norms and values. Our cultural values are linked to our development," she said.
VP Njie-Saidy also stressed the fact that no one is above his or her culture, no matter how educated that individual is, and called on people to promote the country's culture for posterity. She then prayed that the event would be a continuous one, while appealing to good Samaritans to support such initiatives.
"Yes, NCAC can support it and the government, but there is still need for people to come onboard as these institutions alone cannot do it," she further remarked.
She added that most tourists come to The Gambia to explore the country's rich cultural heritage, while further harping on the importance of cultural and eco tourism.