In a simple language culture is known to be a mode of expression of someone’s behaviour; belief, inheritance from the forefathers/ancestors, values, norms and of human work and thought to mention just a few. A nation without culture for its citizen at home and abroad to emulate and practice is nothing more than a dead nation.
For the Gambia our homeland is recognized and known worldwide for its instinctive warm smiles, peace loving nature, hospitality and culture as the citizens and the inhabitants live harmoniously in mixed communities, exercising its religious and cultural traditions freely and this, the citizens as well exported to other countries in Africa and beyond to showcase to everyone to follow and copy. Since culture isdescribed as ‘having its origin in the love of perfection’ by Mathew Arnold, taste is the capacity for recognizing and appreciating what is fitting, proper or showing good taste, thus the Gambian Association in Oslo, Norway has once again perfectly done it as they recently celebrated their annual Gambian Cultural Week in Oslo, the Norwegian capital city.
The Gambian Association resident in Norway organized this annual cultural event, which was purposely used to showcase and exhibit Gambian culture in Oslo.This year marked the 26th anniversary of the event, ‘Gambian Cultural Week.’ It was a complete week social occasion that took place between the 7th and 14th July 2012. This annual cultural event was meant for the promotion of Gambian culture to enhance inclusion and the integration of Gambians in Norwegian society. It was witnessed by different Gambians and top officials from the Gambia, among them are Benjamin A Roberts, Director General, Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard); Sheikh Tejan Nyang, Head of School, Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG); with other delegations in the likes of Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA); Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI); Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) among other.
The weeklong cultural show as well created a platform for Gambians in the Diaspora to meet, network and addressed some of the important issues of national development that affect their welfare in foreign lands. In addition to this, the event was also used to showcase the enormous opportunities that available in The Gambia in terms of tourism, investment and export promotion. The Gambian Cultural Week event, which is already a household name in Norway, other Scandinavia countries and among other Africans around Europe was first, organized in 1986. Since then it has grown from strength to strength and become the largest and most famous gathering of Gambians in Europe.
Gambian Cultural Week Oslo 2012 attracted lots of visitors from the neighboring Scandinavian countries; USA and other parts of European countries as they descended on Oslo in splendor and elegance to witness this extra ordinary cultural show. Numerous activities with different side of attraction were staged to mark this year anniversary of this weeklong event. The activities included Gambia traditional drumming, dancing and songs; children and youth program; seminar; ‘hawareh;’ reggae night; gala night; and football match with the ‘Ifang Bondi’ team in Oslo.
One of the major highlights of this year’s event was Sewruba Group that was invited from the Gambia to entertain the audience at the event. Beray Fatty of Sukutu led Sewruba Group. The group is now a household name among the Gambians in Norway because of their excellent performance. The Beray led group charmed the crowd with their typical undiluted Madinka songs and skillful dance as displayed. Gambia and some foreign women’s nationals took the suit in style as they dressed in the traditional ‘chossan’ dancing outfits.
It was an eye-catching moment that evoked nostalgia and brought home some good memories. Doudou Secka who sang at the ‘hawareh’, while the Aku Boys Club from Stockholm presented a fantastic fairy and hunting show also graced the occasion. Among the designed program for the event was seminar, it addressed the issue of pedophiles with focus on the role of the tourism sector and youth education. This is an issue of great concern to Gambians in Norway as it affects the community. The seminar was well attended and the presenters including Sheikh Tejan Nyang of ITTOG; Benjamin Roberts – GTBoard and Madam Kari – Janne Lidd, Head, Section against Violence and Sex Crimes, Oslo Police.
Madam Lidd highlighted the need for vigilance in identifying perpetrators of such crimes.On his own part, the ITTOG Head, Sheikh Tejan, spoke in detail as he talked about the socio-economic factors of tourism and the initiatives that have been implemented by the government and the tourism sector to combat pedophiles. All the speakers in turn emphasized on the need for a concerted effort and collaboration as it involve all stakeholders.
Delegations from the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) and Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) that attended the Gambian Cultural Week 2012 met with the Gambian Diaspora in Norway and other Scandinavia countries in other to facilitate and promote foreign direct investment, and as well as to support enterprise and export development. The meeting with the delegation attracted a huge crowd and relevant information and materials were provided. At the same time the audience also had the opportunity to ask questions bothered them particularly on investment, tourism and others. The questions and answers forum gave the chance to everyone to participate and contribute meaningfully to the meeting; it was a give and take forum that was one hundred per cent successful.
As the curtain of this year’s event dropped down on the last day to mark the end of this remarkable event, the Gambian Association in Oslo Committee member expressed their delight on the huge turnout of not only the Gambians but the well-wishers of other national, including the officials from the Gambia that flew into Oslo to witness and participate in the cultural show and the citizen of their host country.
However, the committee member thanked its membership, the sister organizations from Stockholm; Gothenburg; Copenhagen; Malmo; and Bergen, and all those who contributed to the success of this historic event.
By Yunus Salieu
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