For five days next February, the smallest country in Africa will host one of the biggest events on the Mother Continent…and you’re invited.
The word “Roots” has to do with:
- (a) The underground tendrils that draw nourishment to plants
- (b) The ground-breaking book by author Alex Haley in which he traces his family tree back to its African origins
- (c) An annual international festival in the Gambia that seeks to forge ties between Africans and African-Americans (among others) in the Diaspora
The correct answer, of course, is all of the above, but this is about (b) and (c).
For five days in early February, the Gambia will host its annual International Roots Festival in the the Gambian capital of Banjul.
The festival is five days of immersion into West African culture — food, art, music, dance, fashion, tradition, history, heritage — along with information on investment opportunities. Beyond that, it’s a chance to, in the words of Gambian president Yahyah A.J.J. Jammeh, “bridge the gap that has separated the sons and daughters of Africa for so long.”
At the heart of it is the bond between North America and West Africa traced by Haley, a bond forged by the iron chains of a slave’s past and an unbroken faith in the chance at a better future, a faith those chains failed to break. You will see what Haley saw when he came here, learn what he learned, and maybe feel what he felt when he came face-to-face with a history long thought lost.
If you’re not of African descent, the festival affords you an intimate look into a different world. If you are, it’s a chance to, in the words of festival organizers, “come home.”
In the coming days, there will be more information about this festival, including info on tour packages from the United States and elsewhere.
Watch this blog.
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