Sunday, October 10, 2010

US EMBASSY HONOURS AFRICAN-AMERICANS



As It Marks 2nd Annual Black History Month Vendor Fair
By Kawsu Barrow
Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The American Embassy in Banjul paraded exhibitions of Art in honour of African-Americans as it marks its second annual Black History Month Vendor Fair at the Embassy’s Office along Kairaba Avenue on Friday 20th February, 2010.
The annual event is aimed at commemorating the transformational achievements by African-Americans in the form of an exhibition of products made by Gambian men and women who presented different types of local products such as art works, foods, and clothes among other things in a fair that lasted for three hours.
The United States Ambassador to The Gambia, Mr. Barry L. Walls noted that the accomplishment of the Black Americans should be celebrated all year long, but they selected February to celebrate it because, as he puts it “is the month when we focus on their contributions to the developments of the American society and February is marked annually by Americans in honour of the transformational achievements of African-Americans in all walks of American life”.
“The month of February was chosen because of the historical events that had taken place, which had a significant impact such as the 15th amendment, which gave Blacks the right to vote and also the birth of the late Abraham Lincoln.
He noted that the list of persons ranges from Martin Luther King Junior, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement and to the historic election and inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States of America, Barrack Husain Obama.
According to Wells, the reason for honoring such people boils down to the contributions of African-Americans whom he said have never been acknowledge in what he called ‘the shameful past of the country’.
Mr. Wells noted that the honoring started since 1926 by the late Carter G. Woodson, an African-American Historian and it was originally called “Negro History Week”.
Mr. Barry Walls also noted that with the epic work of the late Alex Haley, “Roots” has served over the last 30 years as a symbol of the slave trade in Africa and the suffering endured by many Africans who were enslaved during that time.
“Through Haley’s work, many Black Americans have known the history about the Gambia and many have the dreamed of one day being able to come here and witness a part of their own history. I have been moved during my trip to Juffereh by the memories that remain in that village and on James Island and places like Juffereh, James Island, Albrada and Georgetown have significant memorial sites dedicated to their memories,” he said.
The Kinteh Family used the occasion to thank Mr. Wells for inviting them to witness yet another event in honoring the achievements of Africans and praising him as the first ambassador to initiate this important event.
Lamin Ceesay, the Kinteh Family tour guide, narrated a brief history of the Kinteh family with specific mention of the book, “Roots” authored by Alex Haley, whom he said have enlighten lots of Blacks in the Diaspora about roots, more specifically in The Gambia where a Roots Festival is being organised in Juffereh in every two years.
According to Mr. Ceesay, the ancestors of the Kinteh family originated from a place called Manding, which is in present day Mali at a time when they were neither Muslims nor Christians, but later Kunta Kinteh’s father decided to go to Mauritania to receive Qur’anic education. He explained that after his arrival in The Gambia, he first settled in a village called Jafer and later went to Juffereh where he found the villagers to be farmers but were not having enough rainfall. He said that Kunta Kinteh’s father prayed to God to provide the people of Juffereh with rains, a prayer he said was accepted by God.
He later get married two wives whose names are Isha and Sirreh and that Kunta Kinteh was born in 1750. VOL:3 ISSN:96

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