The 2013 International Roots Festival is returning this spring to the Gambia. It’s a biennial event in which the West African nation reaches out to Africans in the Diaspora with a simple two-worded message:
The festival itself is built around the work of American author Alex Haley, who traced his familial heritage to the Gambia in his book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The fishing village where Kunta Kinteh was born (and where his descendants remain) is still where, as is the island fort where he and other African captives were held before being shipped to America as slaves.
It’s also where a select number of festivalgoers will symbolically embrace their own African roots in a symbolic initiation ceremony called the futampaf.
I attended the festival in 2011, my first time on African soil. Those will forever be ten special days in my life. The YouTube slideshow above is the product of those ten days.
For more about my Gambian experience, look on the AFRICA page under West Africa, where you’ll find a series of articles titled WEST AFRICA JOURNAL.
And check IBIT in the days to come for more detailed information on this year’s RootsFest, and how you can be there yourself.