THE KANKURANG FESTIVAL 2.0

The second edition of the Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival, is scheduled to take place from the 18th – 20th of January 2019. The festival which was revived in 2018 with support from YEP and its partners, is geared towards the promotion and preservation of culture as well as creating employment opportunities for the inhabitants of the island town of Janjanbureh, particularly young people through Community-Based Tourism.

The Kankurang is a traditional Mandinka masquerade associated with the transition of young boys to manhood, with values of respect, tolerance, independence and service to community instilled in them. The word ‘Kang’ and ‘kurango’ are Mandinka words and they translate as ‘’voice’’ and ‘’enforce’’ respectively and are believed to heighten the power of the voice in strengthening the rules set out by the community. The historic town of Janjanbureh, is a hub for tourism mainly because as an island, it used to serve as a transit point for slaves to be shipped to the outside world, during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, making it a UNESCO recognised heritage.

The revitalisation of the Kankurang Festival, is geared towards the preservation of the community’s rich culture as well as creating economic opportunities for its youth and those of surrounding communities. This year’s festival, will feature fifteen different masquerades drawn from different parts of the country, in a three-day event bringing together government officials, tourists, tour operators and locals amongst others. On the side lines of the festival, a musical jamboree will be featuring the country’s renowned and internationally acclaimed King of Kora, Jaliba Kuyateh and the Kumareh Band, to entertain participants with authentic Mandinka music.

This Festival is open to the general public and is free of charge to attend. Discover Gambia’s rich culture, see different masquerades have the opportunity to interact with the local people and visit historic places in the island. The island of Janjanbureh is in the central river region, it is a four-hour drive after crossing from the Banjul ferry terminal to Barra. The trading town of Barra offers commercial vehicles to Janjanbureh as well as comfortable private hires with drivers. The south bank of the country diverts the ferry crossing hassle and can take up to four-hours’ drive as well. Additional info can be accessed on http://www.accessgambia.com/information/janjangbureh.html.

Janjanbureh (Georgetown) is a sleepy, former colonial administrative centre. It is situated on the northern edge of McCarthy Island in the Gambia River. A walk around town does reveal a few historic buildings, including the old Commissioner's Quarter, a 200-year-old wooden house once inhabited by freed slaves, and the foundations of a colonial warehouse. The settlement also houses the country’s oldest boarding school (Armitage) high school. It offers bird watching, river cruising, wildlife spotting and architectural infrastructure amongst others. It is an all year round tourism destination that has a lot to offer outside of the Kankurang festival.

Youth participation is crucial in the success of this event, thus the setting up of a local organising committee with more than 80% of the committee being young people. This highlights the sense of ownership and leadership the community of Janjanbureh has taken along with its partners in making the second edition of the festival a successful one.


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