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Gambia's First Music School graduates its first badge of students

The Mandingmory Foundation for Performing Arts (MANFOPA) in The Gambia recently produced their first badge of   graduating students from the academy. The ceremony was  held at the Alliance Franco Gambienne on the 27th March, 2014.

The official opening ceremony was attended by dignitaries namely the Minister of Youths and Sports – Mr. Alieu K. Jammeh, Executive Director National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) – Mr. Baba Ceesay, Executive Director for the Mandingmorry Foundation for Performing Arts (MANFOPA) – Mr. Ibrahim Ceesay, Director General Alliance Francaise , The President of  the Gambian Musicians Union Mr. Oliver Mboge, Representative of the Collecting Society of The Gambia, CEO/ Artistic Director – Ebunjang Theater Mrs. Aunty Janet Badjan Young, Legendary Super Eagle performer Ousu Njie Senyor, Hon. Members of the National Assembly, Deputy Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), Technical Advisory Committee members of Mandingmorry Academy of Music, Musicians, Music Producers and Promoters and friends of the Media and MAM students.

In his welcoming remarks, the Executive Director of MANFOPA who doubles as the Project Manager of the Mandingmorry Academy of Music Mr. Ibrahim Ceesay gave an overview of the  Mandingmorry Foundation for Performing Arts (MANFOPA) as a non-profit charitable arts organization whose main aim is to enhance professionalism, build capacity and create opportunities for making a living through performing arts. According to Mr. Ceesay, the primary objectives and purposes of his foundation is to promote performing arts (music, film and theatre), African cultural heritage and practices through training and capacity building with a special focus on young talents. “12 months ago, MANFOPA embarked on an ambitious journey by establishing the Mandingmorry Academy of Music (MAM) supported by the Roskilde Festival Society of Denmark which is the biggest music festival in Scandinavia. The Mandingmorry Academy of Music (MAM) is a one (1) year youth pilot music training project undertaking by MANFOPA. We realized the need to establish a Music Academy for the aspiring talents providing them with professional music training and mentorship towards their development as self-employed youths. The direct impact of the project is an increase in youth employability and the creation of decent job opportunities for youths in the Billion Dollar creative industry.

He hastens to add that these skills cannot be developed quickly, nor can they be mastered at the Music Academy. But a beginning must be made, and starting this process is part of the mission of MANFOPA. The Mandingmorry Academy of Music training programme 2013-2014, was an intensive (5) months theory and (7) months practical’s. Training contents included the following;

Music Theory (Music language and music notes)
Vocals and Songwriting (Singing, Harmony, Speech and Ear Training, Arranging, Musical Communications and Performance)
Drumming (Drum Set and Percussion)
Guitar (Acoustic, Rhythm and Bass)

The Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) – Mr. Baba Ceesay in his statement gave a brief account of the role of NCAC which is an arm of Government tasked to promote the arts and culture sector of the country overseas by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Mr Ceesay informed the gathering that “The MANFOPA music school is highly recognize by my department as it contributes to the infrastructural development of the performing arts sector and that my office puts much importance of its training and nurturing skills and talents through music education to the young people by providing a means to improve their livelihoods. During the inaugural ceremony of the Mandingmorry Academy of Music (MAM) on the 3rd December 2013, I told the gathering that NCAC will continue to support and provide the enabling environment for arts organizations like MANFOPA whose efforts complements the development of the arts and culture sector of the Gambia.”

For his part, the President of the Musicians Union of The Gambia Mr. Oliver Mboge, thanks MANFOPA for establishing a school of music which will go a long way in fostering and developing the skills of young artists to become professional musicians.

According to Mr. Mboge, “in the 1900s, the Gambia was proud to have so many musical bands like Ifangbondi, Gelewar, Super Eagels, Magadan, Oliver and Brother just to name a few performed in big festivals around the world. During that period, the Gambia was a music hub in the sub-region and that being the case the most popular musicians in Africa pass through the country in search of music knowledge Mr. Mboge lamented.

The Honorable Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Alieu K. Jammeh recognized the presence of all the invited guests stating that “today, more than ever before, my Ministry is calling for greater youth’s participation in national development efforts. The Gambia Government developed a National Youth Policy that bears in mind that Youth are not only the future, but also the present. He informed the August gathering that with a well-tailored National Youth Policy, formulated via a thorough consultation between the Government, the Youth Organizations as well as stakeholders the future looks bright.”

He reaffirmed music as a lucrative business around the world today with the increasing number of young Gambians taking up music as their career. The Minister indicated that, more than 300 youths are participating in music and a few among them are fully recognized in the trade due to the fact that they lack the necessary skills to reach the level of prominence.

To the music industry players, the Minister said collective involvement is needed to coordinate, guide, develop and implement strategies with all stakeholders for effective contribution of the Music Industry in national socio-economic development.

Soon after the Minister’s speech arrived the most anticipated moment of the night. The Mandingmorry Academy of Music graduates and other invited Gambian guest artists took the center stage entertaining the crowd to the fullest. After seven (7) months of instrument learning, MAM graduates performed three great songs that move the audience. Each student attached to their instruments of specialization and as a group, they showed the public what they love to do most. It was a memorable and a historic night for the music industry of the Gambia.

Guest performances were also done by renowned Gambian artists such as Silver P (an acoustic guitar performer and a former member of Aada Gi), Singateh aka Freaky Joe, Benjamin, T-Smallz, Sheriffo Kanuteh and Omid Wisdom.

The event ended with presentation of certificates to the graduates, picture taking and interaction between the students and their loved ones. 15 gallant graduates were awarded certificates of Achievements for their outstanding performance and for successfully completing all the training modules (Music Theory, Vocals and Songwriting, Musical Communication and Specialized Instruments learned) at the Mandingmorry Academy of Music from January 2013 to March 2014.



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