THE KANKURANG LIVES ON
The second edition of the Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival took place from the 18th – 20th of January 2019 in a three-day exciting event. 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 its inhabitants particularly young people through community based tourism. Janjanbureh is widely renowned for its significant role during the Atlantic slave trade where it served as a transit point for slaves being transported to the West. It is also noted for being the site of the first church in Gambia and the first high school (Armitage High). In 1995, both the city of Georgetown and McCarthy Island were renamed Janjanbureh respectively. It is also widely regarded as the town of the Kankurang due to its cultural significance in the town and currently houses the Kankurang museum.
The official opening of the #KKF2019 was witnessed by senior dignitaries including the Hon. Minister of Tourism and Culture, the EU Ambassador to the Gambia, the UN Resident Coordinator, the YEP Project Manager, senior government officials and community members amongst others.
The Kankurang 2019 saw the display of fifteen different masquerades drawn from diverse ethnicities across the country, witnessing thrilling cultural performances graced by locals and tourists in Janjanbureh. 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 is believed to heighten the power of the voice in strengthening the rules set out by the community.
The Kankurang festival is an event that goes beyond cultural revival but also serves as an event that brings together people with different religions, cultures and language together to help strengthen the already existing peace and unison The Gambia is renowned for. It also creates the platform for cultural awareness where people are availed the opportunity to have an understanding of the different traditional masquerades and the rich history behind them.
This year alongside the festival witnessed the implementation of the Community Based Tourism project in two communities namely Tabanani and Jamali. This initiative seeks to create employment opportunities for young people through tourism with local products and services. The product testing was done including 5 tour operators testing the products and providing input on their quality.
Youth participation was notable in the event, being the local organising committee comprised of young people. The committee highlighted the sense of ownership and leadership the community of Janjanbureh has taken in making the #KKF2019, which was considered a huge success.
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