Gambian arts and culture is characterized by heterogeneity and diversity. As Gambia subscribes to most of the UNESCO culture conventions, our activities continue to be guided by the spirit of these Conventions which call for the safeguard and development of both the tangible and intangible aspects of cultural heritage, including the arts, for a more peaceful world. We are particularly keen on utilizing our cultural diversity as a source of strength, to galvanize our people to common understanding and mutual respect of each other’s values and traditions. Hence our support of festivals as a means to achieving this end.
In the realm of material heritage we are most proud of our UNESCO World Heritage Listings, Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites (2003) and the Stone Circles of the Senegambia (2006), testimony to the outstanding universal significance of these sites. Our National Museums continue to increase, serving as not only repositories for representative samples of the movable aspects of our cultural patrimony, but centres for study and cultural motivation.
We will continue to strive to attain international recognition for our intangible cultural heritage, which reached a milestone with the proclamation of the Kankurang as ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005 by UNESCO. Our next target is the inscription of our invaluable oral archives in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
Since 2004 copyright administration has also come under the purview of the NCAC. A copyright office has been established under the NCAC and charged with sensitization registration and enforcement. The Board of the Collecting Society of The Gambia, mandated under the Copyright Act, 2004, has also been inaugurated. We are currently working with all stakeholders to ensure implementation of an effective copyright regime in the short to medium term.
Culture must be seen as an integral part of our national development efforts. It is only through the recognition of the cultural dimension of development that our country can chart a course of development that will meet the needs and aspirations of The Gambian people.
National center of arts and culture
The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) is a semi- autonomous institution established by an Act of Parliament in December 1989 to preserve, promote and develop Gambian arts and culture. The 1989 Act is now superseded by the NCAC Act of 2003.
The department is headed by a Director and is responsible for tangible and intangible cultural heritage, including the operation of museums, the conservation of historic monuments and cultural sites, and research and documentation into the country’s history, arts and culture.
The first copyright law in The Gambia called the Copyright Ordinance was enacted by the colonial government in 1911. Noticeably, it only addressed texts and written documents, as at the time these were the main creative products coming out of the colony, and the bulk of it was indeed material published by the government such as sessional papers, gazette entries, reports and speeches.