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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Experience Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival, a unique opportunity to see, learn and take part

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Just a brief introduction to the Second Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival.

Friday 18th January to Sunday 20th January 2019

A one day, weekday Festival took place in January ’18, to coincide with a visit from 60+ Nature Friends International. In 2019 it is expanded to a three day weekend Festival allowing more people to attend, both Gambians, to celebrate their wonderful culture and giving tourists a chance to experience something new. Not only can you see ten different masquerades which have such deep meaning to the various ethnic groups but you also have the opportunity to take an extended experience of McCarthy Island, and villages off the island with cultural and historical tours and workshops. These tours will be led by highly trained Tour Guides local to their community who have developed them through Community Based Tourism principles over the last year. This means that income goes back into their communities and you take part in everyday life not just as an observer.


Recently a new committee has been formed and Head of Marketing and Publicity, Muhammed Saidykhan (Justice) provides a brief outline of the Mandinka Masquerade

"Janjanbureh is well known to be the birthplace of the Kankurang masquerade in the Gambia. The Kankurang masquerade tradition forms an integral part of Mandinka initiatory rites and rituals.

The term Kankurang is a combination of the Mandinka words “kango” and “Kurango” which literally translate as “voice” and “enforce”, respectively. These terms could be said to refer to the empowerment of the voice

in order to enforce the rules set by members of Mandinka society.

In essence, the Kankurang is a central figure in a complex ritual system which comprises traditional practices linked to the initiation of young people and the protection of society and the environment.”

Other masquerades will be seen from other ethnic groups and areas from the country.​

See more details about the tradition here


Intended Programme of Events

Highlights in addition to the masquerades

Friday 10pm Jaliba Kuyateh Jaliba Kuyateh has turned the kora music of Gambia into a very modern sound that he calls kora pop. Find out more about him here

Community Based Tourism visits to local villages off the island Friday and Sunday

These have been developed over the last year and their stages of development can be followed here and here

Historical and Cultural Tour of Janjanbureh Friday

Workshops in tie and dye, hair braiding and cooking on Sunday

More details will follow

SO! Plenty to do, see and experience!

Start planning now

For travelling to Janjanbureh see here

For accommodation see here.

For developments follow on

Contact Muhammed Saidykhan (Justice) +220 3646208

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