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Banjul: Sierra Leone carnival in The Gambia becomes tourist attraction

By  | 5 May 2013 at 06:29 | 3656 views

The Sierra Leone 52nd Independent carnival celebration in Banjul was greeted with glamorous performances from the Sierra Leonean community in The Gambia. This street carnival has now become a tradition to bring together Sierra Leoneans and non-Sierra Leoneans alike to celebrate in unity regardless nationality, political background, religioun, region and ethnicity and an attraction to tourists.

The Sierra Leone Independence carnival, which has now become part of The Gambia’s tourism celebration was greeted with respect and honor in order to rejoice in harmony with both Gambians and Sierra Leoneans alike and this celebration has been the biggest street carnival to bring together some members from the west African community presently residing in The Gambia ranging from Sierra Leoneans, Gambians, Guineans, Nigerians, Ghanaians and Bissau-Guineans.

The All-Walks-Of-Life (AWOL) in collaboration with Central PADDLE, the oldest Sierra Leonean organization in The Gambia for over 30 years, organized the carnival. The Central PADDLE was formed by Sierra Leoneans who came to this country to work during the first Republic (After Pre-Colonial days) and those who came as kola nut business people and predominantly living in Bathurst (Banjul) and AWOL which was originally formed in The Gambia in 2001 by Sierra Leoneans during the days of their refugee status in the country. AWOL was formed at a popular Restaurant called Heart Of Gold to bring together socially those Sierra Leonean refugees and non-refugees alike that were believed to have come from different backgrounds and all walks of life.

For them to rejoice in harmony, they thought it is wise to organize something traditional and cultural that will make them happy and relieve them from stress, so they introduced the ‘JOLLAY’ which is now called ‘Asequo’ and PADDLE respectively. A proper documentation has it that ‘JOLLAY’/’Asequo’ was introduced by a Sierra Leonean called Mr. Kargbo, who was brought to The Gambia as a Police Officer. He might be one of the people behind the creating of Central PADDLE in The Gambia. Today, there are Gambians with Sierra Leonean background all coming together to organize this carnival in memory of their parents’ legacy.

AWOL-PADDLE Independence Carnival is one of the biggest and finest programmes ever celebrated in The Gambia to be organized by a single national community, which brings together all other communities residing in The Gambia including Gambians with the slogan ‘Nor vex lef’ and ‘Woman tote Man’, which signifies that ‘behind any successful man, there is a woman’.

It has been the significant cultural and traditional carnival of the Sierra Leonean community in The Gambia. The PADDLE masquerade was accompanied by members of staff of the Sierra Leone High Commission and the Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone High Commission in The Gambia Mr. Kamara who gave his blessings and warned the exuberant crowd to conduct and comport themselves well.

The AWOL/PADDLE masquerade processed through the main streets of Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) from Kololi Jago through SOS Highway to Seyerr Jobe Avenue (London Corner-Saffie Deen) through Dippa Kunda to Bulle Falleh and then Dippa kunda Jago through Latri kunda German and then Kotu Silo to Manjai kunda and then to Kololi Jago.

This year’s celebration was covered by the international press including journalists that came from Freetown, Senegal and England and it was aired on satellite TV’s world-wide and other social websites such as facebook and You-tube.

The celebration was started with Muslim prayers for Sierra Leone on Friday 26th April 2013 at the Sierra Leone Muslim Jamaat in The Gambia followed by Christian prayers by the Association of Sierra Leone Pastors in The Gambia on Sunday 28th April 2013.