Thousands of fans and other people including delegates of the 11th Edition of the International Roots Homecoming Festival were Saturday night through Sunday morning entertained by five international music icons and a handful of rising Gambian artistes during a grand musical jamboree held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
The event, attended by scores of dignitaries including Cabinet ministers, guest speakers of the 2014 Roots Festival, and National Assembly members was a major highlight of the 11th edition.
Fans were first thrilled by Gambian artistes – Jali Madi, Jali Kebba, Manding Morry, and Humanity Stars and so on, who did justice to the programme. But when their international counterparts took to the stage, it was all but a different night entertainment.
Big Jamaican names, Miguel Orlando Collins, widely called Sizzla Kalongi and Mutabaruka, Scratchylus and daughter, Empress Reggae, and African-American female pop star, Yewande Austin, left their marks at the Independence Stadium when they put everyone on their feet till the early hours of Sunday morning.
Jamaican poet artist, Mutabaruka, performed with a call for justice for Africans and expressed how significant it is to reconnect with their roots. He narrated a touching poem to condemn the episode of slavery and called for African leaders to eradicate ‘injustice because it is fraud’.
Sizzla Kalongi, backed by his band and the last to perform, thrilled the crowd with an amazing show punctuated by his fanciful demonstrations.
Night of the Griots
Saturday’s show was preceded by a ‘Night of the Griots’ at the Ebunjang Theater, which kicked-off activities marking the 11th edition. It enabled the guests to be exposed to the history of The Gambia, its culture, tradition, norms and values.
The griots, oral historians and storytellers who have since time immemorial been playing prominent roles in the court of kings and queens in traditional society, narrated the birth – christening – known in Mandinka as ‘kunliyo,’ the initiation to manhood and rites of passage known in Jola as ‘futampaf’, engagement in Krio; marriage in Wollof known as ‘chate;’ death in Manjago referred to as ‘ouchorse.’ All these narrations were done through live stage performances.
The official opening of the 11th Edition of the International Roots Festival opened yesterday at the July 22nd Square in Banjul, presided over by the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh.