: HerMaP Gambia

Preserving Africa’s Rich Heritage: Our Initiatives

Photo courtesy of MyGambia

As the world celebrates African Heritage Day on May 5th, we highlight our initiatives aimed at conserving, preserving, and promoting Africa’s diverse cultural legacy. The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE), in collaboration with the Mellon Foundation and the European Union, stands at the forefront of conservation and community engagement, catalyzing efforts to safeguard and celebrate Africa’s invaluable natural and cultural heritage. Here are three important ways HERITΛGE is currently contributing to the preservation and promotion of African Heritage

  1. HerMaP Africa: HERITΛGE, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation, has embarked on a mission to fortify its country-specific programs across the African continent. A substantial $5 million grant, with support from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, has been instrumental in empowering local organizations and enhancing their capacity to preserve heritage and culture. Notably, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda, among other regions, benefit from this collaborative effort through initiatives like HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia program. This funding injection includes $1 million allocated for small grants to African organizations and a $450,000 fellowship program aimed at nurturing heritage leaders. Such initiatives not only safeguard Africa’s cultural treasures but also foster socio-economic development, ensuring that heritage remains a vibrant force for progress.
  1. Africa Grants Program: HERITΛGE is proud to announce the launch of its Africa Grants Program, designed to support grassroots heritage projects across the continent. Ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, these small grants target organizations, groups, and individuals committed to preserving and promoting local heritage for socio-economic development. This initiative, part of the broader HerMaP-Africa project, is made possible through the generous backing of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. We have already allocated the first 19 grants and are on track to announce at least 30 more by the end of 2024. By empowering local stakeholders and fostering community-led initiatives, the Africa Small Grants Program not only safeguards Africa’s cultural tapestry but also nurtures its potential as a driver of sustainable development.
  1. HerMaP Gambia: In a groundbreaking collaboration co-funded by the European Union, HERITΛGE spearheads the HerMaP Gambia initiative, aimed at elevating the cultural and creative industries within The Gambia. Since its inception in 2020, HerMaP Gambia has served as a beacon of progress, harnessing the power of culture to catalyze social and economic advancement.  At its core, HerMaP Gambia seeks to enrich the understanding and appreciation of Gambian cultural heritage while enhancing the capacity of key stakeholders in the cultural sector. By nurturing the management and appreciation of Gambian cultural heritage, this initiative paves the way for sustainable socio-economic growth, creating avenues for job creation and community development.

As we commemorate African Heritage Day, let us recognize the tireless efforts of local communities in Africa and their supporters to steward and harness the continent’s amazing heritage. Through collaborative initiatives, targeted grants, and visionary programs, cultural treasures are safeguarded and their potential is unlocked to catalyze progress and prosperity across the African continent. Together, let us celebrate and protect the invaluable legacy of Africa’s diverse heritage for generations to come.

HERITΛGE keeps up the pace of the HerMaP Gambia Program for cultural heritage

The participants of the 1st International Responsible Tourism & Heritage Conference

HERITΛGE is happy to share two important actions of its HerMaP Gambia Program, an introductory workshop tailor-made and delivered for officials of The Gambia’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and its participation to the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism Practices and Cultural Heritage Management. HerMaP Gambia is co-funded by the European Union to support the country’s heritage sector so that it can serve as a catalyst for social and economic development.

Within the framework of the program, in late January, 18 officers and managers from the NEA attended an Introduction to Heritage Management workshop, delivered by HERITΛGE’s director Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. The training equipped participants with a foundational understanding of heritage management principles while discussions on environmental impact assessment and heritage impact assessment provided valuable insights into safeguarding cultural and natural heritage, laying the groundwork for comprehensive heritage management strategies.

“In a fast-developing country such as The Gambia, it is important that decision-makers are aware of the importance of heritage for creating sustainable economic growth and of heritage management fundamentals,” said Dr. Kyriakidis.

The workshop was then followed up by the launch on January 24-25 of the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism Practices and Cultural Heritage Management, organized by the Institute for Travel and Tourism of The Gambia in cooperation with HERITΛGE, in the framework of HerMaP Gambia.

The symbiotic relationship between cultural heritage and responsible tourism was the main focus of the conference, showcasing community-driven initiatives promoting sustainability and providing valuable insights into leveraging tourism for positive impact and fostering sustainable economic development through heritage preservation.

“It is time to move on from being a paper tiger to scaling up the more active implementation of responsible tourism policy on the ground”, said ITTOG chairman and founder Adama Bah.

The conference featured a number of workshops and training opportunities that also highlighted examples from successful heritage management endeavors including the Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival, The Ninki Nanka Trail, various HerMaP initiatives, and more.

Keynote speakers, apart from Dr Kyriakidis included ITTOG’s Dr. Adama Bah, Baba Ceesay (HERITΛGE/HerMaP Gambia), Dr. Harold Goodwin (International Tourism Partnership), and Lucy McCombes (Responsible Tourism Expert).

HERITΛGE funding through its HerMaP Gambia program also enabled the participation of two nominated Gambian parliamentarians, Honorable Omar Jatto Jammeh and Honorable Alieu Baldeh.

Finally, it is worth noting that on January 23rd, HerMaP Gambia also held its steering committee and stakeholders meeting, with the participation of the National Assembly of The Gambia, NCAC, NEA, ITTOG, My Gambia, GYCC, the American Chamber of Commerce, JAYS, and a Barra VDC member.

About HerMaP Gambia: This HERITΛGE program aims to contribute to the enhancement of the cultural, creative, and sports industries as engines for social and economic development and job creation in The Gambia. Supporting The Gambia’s heritage sector, the management of Gambian Cultural Heritage is enhanced and valued. HerMaP Gambia is co-funded by the European Union and is being realized in partnership with Gambia’s National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC).

Digitizing Gambia’s Heritage: A workshop in Digital Tools for Cultural Heritage


HERITΛGE is pleased to announce the successful completion of a transformative workshop that trained heritage caretakers in The Gambia on the latest digital tools for cultural heritage management. Our “Digital Tools for Heritage Management” workshop took place in Barra, Gambia, from December 12th to 18th, 2023. It is part of the HerMaP Gambia program, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by HERITΛGE.

Led by HERITΛGE’s and HOGENT University’s Dr. Cornelis Stal, the week-long event was attended by 14 representatives from various leading heritage institutions in the country, including the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the National Environment Agency (NEA), ITTOG (The Institute of Tourism and Travel of The Gambia), the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC), the Juffureh & Albreda Youth Society (JAYS), CityWide Ventures International, and community members from Barra.

“I am genuinely delighted by the wholehearted enthusiasm with which the participants immersed themselves in this innovative workshop,” said Mina Morou, Africa Programs Manager at HERITΛGE and Project Manager for HerMaP Gambia. “The culmination of the participants’ efforts resulted in the impressive 3D modeling of two significant heritage sites, Fort Bullen and Kuntah Kinteh Island, a testament to the success of the workshop in translating theoretical concepts into practical and valuable outcomes.”

Dr. Stal, his assistants, and our trainees.Copyright: HERITΛGE

Dr. Stal, assisted by two students from HOGENT University, laid the foundation for an enriching learning experience. Participants were introduced to a broad range of 3D recording and mapping techniques, as well as methodologies to use and analyze spatial data. Geographic Information Systems were utilized to acquire, manage, and integrate spatial data for management and analysis purposes, and to publish the resulting data in cartographic deliverables for Fort Bullen and Kuntah Kinteh Island. The video forms part of the 3D modeling of Fort Bullen.

The initial three days focused on GIS fundamentals, 3D recording, and mapping techniques. The subsequent three days delved into theoretical training in photogrammetry, image-based 3D modeling, camera models, optics, and data processing. Following this, participants applied their knowledge practically to heritage sites.

“Many thanks to The Heritage Management Organization and HerMaP Gambia for bringing digital technology to Gambian heritage,” said Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of NCAC.

HERITΛGE opens new office in The Gambia

Barra and Fort Bullen

The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE) is happy to announce the opening of its local office and training centre in Barra, in The Gambia’s North Bank Region. The new office, part of HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia Program that is co-financed by the European Union, opened its doors officially on October 27th

The launching of this brand-new office will help to further achieve the objectives of the HerMaP Gambia program,” said Enrica Pellacani, Head of Cooperation for the European Union Delegation in The Gambia. Pellacani noted over the past two years, the EU and HERITΛGE have been collaborating and empowering civil society organizations as essential partners in promoting social development, inclusive growth, and sustainability within the cultural and creative industries.

“Over 250 people from the heritage and tourism sectors, from 6 districts have received training on Community Engagement, Oral History, Museum Redesign, Heritage Interpretation as well as Community and Economic Development,” the official added, noting that as part of the EU-funded program, over 30 heritage managers were also trained to serve as trainers and thus “help manifest a creative wave that will enable The Gambia to preserve its heritage and leverage it to create great quality jobs for its youth”.

“Opening up our office in The Gambia is a very important development for us…everything we do is always centered around working with local communities,” said HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. “We hope that this office is more than a workplace or a training location. For us, this is a place that should be alive, engaged, and relevant to the whole community and ultimately to the whole country,” he added. 

Mamat Sallah from The Gambia’s National Centre for the Arts and Culture, in partnership with which the HerMaP Gambia program is being realized, pointed out that “our heritage connects us with our roots. It is a treasure of knowledge waiting to be unlocked and shared with the generations still to come.” 

“The Heritage Management Organization Office has been established with the simple ambition to train heritage managers to be the guardians of our collective memory and safeguard our historical treasures and to promote appreciation of the rich tapestry of our culture”  he added.

A number of esteemed guests attended the opening and addressed participants, including the Alkalo of Barra, Dr. Adama Bah, Director of ITTOG (Institute of Travel and Tourism of Gambia), Amadou Danso from the Jufureh Albreda Youth Society (JAYS). Aba Hydara (Barra Community Committee Member), Ismaila Sambou, Director of GYCC (Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce), Ebrima Krubally form the Wassu Stone Circle Association, Fatoumatta Jatta representative of the Crafts Market Federation, HERITΛGE Focal Representatives Malick Kujabi, Khadijatou Badgie, and Ebrima JammehLumana Kamashi, Development Cooperation / International Aid Officer of the EU Delegation in The Gambia, and Representatives of Geniere, Janjanbureh, Basse, and the greater Banjul area.

To celebrate the opening of this brand new facility and showcase the region’s cultural heritage, the local community put together a dance and music performance and served local delicacies. 

About HerMaP Gambia: The program is aimed at developing the business skills of heritage and cultural managers to enable them to establish and better support heritage and cultural enterprises. Supporting The Gambia’s heritage sector will promote community solidarity and provide high-quality employment opportunities for local talent. 

The program is co-funded by the European Union

Strengthening Partnerships: HERITΛGE visit The Gambia

An extended HERITΛGE team was in The Gambia in August to  assess the progress of the Organization’s capacity development initiatives and explore how local communities are taking on board the heritage management training. HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia program has delivered in the past three years, including HERITΛGE’s Training of Trainers (ToT) program that has been disseminating knowledge, and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders who play a vital role in cultural heritage management. 

“Meeting with stakeholders underscored the effectiveness of our training programs in empowering trainers to pass on their knowledge to a broader audience in the Gambia,” says Mina Morou, HERITΛGE’s Africa Projects Manager. “To build on this success, we have scheduled another cycle of the  “Train the Trainers” program for this autumn, aiming to continue expanding the reach of heritage management education in the region.”

During the visit, our team was happy to reconnect with a range of existing partners and new ones, who play pivotal roles in heritage management and preservation in The Gambia. These include the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG), the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the National Assembly and the Gambia Tourist Board, EU Delegation, the Juffureh Albreda Youths Society (JAYS), My Gambia, National Environment Agency (NEA) and more.

HERITΛGE is also happy to announce that our new Gambian office in Banjul is now operational and will soon start hosting activities.

The program is co-funded by the European Union.

Training the Trainers in The Gambia

HERITΛGE is very proud to have trained two groups of heritage practitioners during its Train the  Trainers workshop in The Gambia in June, in partnership with the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia. The 29 practitioners completed the first phase of their training and are now ready to go ahead and train a new generation of heritage managers in The Gambia.

“The Train the Trainers workshop is of great value as it promotes ownership among local people by creating an enabling environment that empowers them to design and deliver courses in heritage management, while at the same time encouraging community participation and ensuring the sustainability and significance of their contributions.,” said Mina Morou, Africa Programs Manager for HERITΛGE.

The Train the Trainers workshop is a transformative program that empowers participants to become influential multipliers in the field of heritage management. It provides participants with the essential skills and knowledge to design and deliver effective courses for adult learners in this domain.

The workshop covers various critical aspects including course design principles, assessing student needs, tailoring instruction, building trust with learners, providing feedback, and implementing continuous evaluation processes. It promotes a culture of critical thinking and highlights the significance of understanding cultural nuances in training delivery. Practical exercises and real-world examples are incorporated to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for the participants.

By the end of the workshop, participants are equipped to disseminate the acquired knowledge and make a positive impact in the field of heritage management.

During the training, HERITΛGE was happy to host the Honorable Omar Jatto Jammeh as a guest speaker. The workshop is part of HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Gambia program.

About HerMaP Gambia: The program is aimed at developing the business skills of heritage and cultural managers to enable them to establish and better support heritage and cultural enterprises. Supporting The Gambia’s heritage sector will promote community solidarity and provide high-quality employment opportunities for local talent.

The program is co-funded by the European Union.


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