Culture & Traditions Festivals
Gambia's bi-annual Roots International Festival (formerly Homecoming)
commemorates the forced enslavement and shipment of millions of
Africans to the Americas and the Caribbean region. Africans and
friends of Africa from the Diaspora are invited to attend and
participate in the festival.
It provides opportunities for atonement and reconciliation for
those whose ancestors were engaged in slavery and the descendants
of Africans forced into slavery.
Its rich programme of events includes cultural performances from
different ethnic groups, tours
to historic sites such as Juffure
& James Island, dance
& drum workshops, carnival parades, symposia, trade fairs,
traditional sporting events and religious services.
The Roots Secretariat:
The secretariat was created to facilitate, integrate and to culturally
enrich Gambians and Pan Africans who travel from the Diaspora,
to The Gambia exclusively, to reaffirm and reconnect with their
Roots respectively. Roots Experiences, The main festival, concerts,
merchandise and other Pan African Edutainment programmes are to
be implemented by the secretariat throughout the year.
The festival has its origins in the publication of Alex Haley's
novel called 'Roots' which was followed by the TV series. In the
wake of the interest generated by publication the Government of
The Gambia brought together a team of officials that visited the
USA in order to advance The Gambia as an idyllic tourist destination
for tourists from the African Diaspora. As a result of these efforts
visitors from America came to the country in force but the success
of the initiative was limited due to The Gambia's limited infrastructural
resources and competition from other destinations.
Since 1994 the Government initiated the Roots Festival with the
aim "To bring together Africans and the people of African
descent to commemorate the forced enslavement of Africans in the
Atlantic Slave Trade system and to celebrate the richness and
diversity of Gambian and African culture as a prelude to the establishment
of a Diaspora Heritage Centre at Juffureh".
The festival which originally began as an annual event is now