By Yankuba Jallow
Hamat NK Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, yesterday presided over the inauguration ceremony of the Technical Advisory Committee of the National Troupe, in a local Hotel in Banjul.
Speaking at the gathering, Hamat said it is a known fact that the country ceased to have a national troupe in the early days of the AFPRC regime, which used the re-establishment of the troupe as part of efforts to gain legitimacy; that this was unfortunately done without adequate reflection and planning.
“In spite of these historical insights, the Government of New Gambia under the leadership of President Adama Barrow, deems it necessary to re-establish a national troupe for many reasons. Firstly, there is no doubt that a troupe that brings together our diverse ethnicities to showcase the rich traditional performance of our people, could serve as a much-needed inspiration for the country to come together in this politically polarized time. In unity lies our strength, as was demonstrated in the coalition of political parties that finally rid us of the dictatorial regime of the ex-President, which thrived on ethnic patronage, whilst proclaiming otherwise”, he said.
Hamat continued that Gambia needs a national troupe that can represent the country at international cultural gatherings and to showcase its talents when the country receives visiting dignitaries; that there is no doubt that our artistic manifestations provide an indication of our national identity and that through the arts, Gambians can show people who they are as a nation; that such an outfit can be invaluable in marketing the tourism of the country.
“A national troupe with a diverse repertoire from all the ethnic groups of the country, can also serve as a vehicle for preserving our performance traditions and inspire youth who dabble in the arts, to take pride in what is genuinely ours and minimize the infusion of foreign elements in their creative productions. It is important to note that when copyright matures, with its ethos of reciprocity, the more Gambian productions we have, the better. Otherwise the better part of the collections and monetary remunerations will accrue to foreign artists on whose behalf, we are also obliged to collect royalties”, he said.
He said the financial sustainability of a national troupe is a daunting challenge which they must overcome to make this new national troupe viable; that making recommendations to achieve this is the key task assigned to the Advisory Committee.
“There are many other tasks assigned to the Committee which have been adequately covered in terms of reference and expected outputs that accompany the appointment letters of the members of the Committee. It is important to note that the members were selected based on informed decisions about their preoccupations and experience over the years in the relevant field. A lot of faith has been placed on your good judgment. I therefore expect that you will provide us with a report detailing advice on all the issues of principal concerns outlined in your terms of reference. I want to emphasize the need for consultation with a wide cross-section of stakeholders, as well as the need to have a national troupe that takes into account, talents from all the ethnic groups”, he concludes.