His Excellency, President Adama Barrow has called on the Festival International of the Soninke (FISO) to unite, promote dialogue among themselves, and culture and trade investments in member countries.
He was speaking at the official opening of the 6th edition of the Soninko festival held at the Independence Stadium on Thursday evening.
President Barrow advised the Soninkes to use their economic power to enhance investments in the import sector and manufacturing industries, citing the several Soninke elders as role models in running businesses.
He applauded the increase in the number of participants in this year’s festival, urging them to organise their resources to build headquarters and develop big business plans for joint investments. The Gambian leader encouraged the Soninkes to overcome their fear in having joint ventures by taking bold decisions to make major investments.
On behalf of his colleague Heads of State from the participating countries, President Barrow extended his gratitude to the delegations from Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and the Diaspora for choosing to host the festival in The Gambia.
Various Speakers at the ceremony emphasised the importance of promoting the Soninke culture as well as unity and solidarity. Amongst them was Honourable Muhammad Magassy.
Mr. Magassy gave a brief history of how the festival got initiated in France; the first edition held in 2011 in Haye, Mali and its trajectory to the 6th edition in The Gambia. He thanked President Barrow for gracing the occasion and described him as a role model they are proud of.
Acting President of FISO Mali, Mr. Jonkunda Drammeh described the Soninke as courageous and brave, thus urging the young ones to learn their history.
Honourable Musa Drammeh, representing Gambia Sumpu Do Hati, gave a history of efforts to unite the Soninkes in The Gambia since in the 1970s.
The President of FISO-Gambia, Muhammad Musa Njie appealed for land to build a FISO academy to address illegal migration, financial transactions and marital issues.
Mr. Ousmane Jagana paid tribute to members who passed away, including young Gambian activist and journalist, Sisi Sawaneh; and a Soninke leader Jajeh Sumareh, who was a pioneer in uniting the Soninke immigrants in France from different parts of Africa.
FISO was also initiated as an avenue for children of immigrants to learn and appreciate the Soninke cultures in Africa.
The opening was characterised by the various versions of the Soninke culture.
Office of The President
Republic of The Gambia