I've been in Gambia for just over two months now and bringing in the New Year, the opportunity to reflect and grow from my experiences here both personally and professionally boldly presents itself.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, the country has been buzzing with events despite the slow tourist season. The highlights for me have been Fashion Weekend and The Open Mic Festival.
Fashion Weekend was filled with creative Gambians worldwide strutting their stuff. A special mention has to go to Phuzion for wowing us all with flawless designs and it was great to see the event highlight their stance against skin bleaching by having only naturally skin toned models as well as a special video from my cousin Mariyann Jabang who I was very proud of for speaking out on the subject. Many Gambian women bleach their skin and it's refreshing to see the ones that don't standing up for the beautiful dark skin we were born in.
The Open Mic Festival hands down trumped any other musical event that took place. For local music by local artists and an event ran by locals for the locals to be successful to that magnitude, the organisers Xmyls and Waagan of Black Lynx definitely deserve all our gratitude, respect and support. The stadium was so packed I was speechless. The Gambians have spoken and supporting our own is where it's at! S.T's performance was one of the best with the crowd going crazy when he took to the stage. I really enjoyed working there and felt proud to witness what is undoubtedly a huge part of Gambian music history.
This past Sunday, I did Banjul Night Live and was so impressed by their work ethic. Having worked in telly for many years back home in the UK, I know the hard work and dedication that goes into making a TV show and being on the BNL set truly humbled me. They work twice as hard with what they have in order to make the show great and I salute the entire team for just how incredible they really are!
I've met a lot of industry players since I've been here and I'm enjoying making more contacts and seeing how it all goes! On a cultural playing field, as proud as I am of my Gambian heritage, it has been tough at times for me to understand the way of life. The differences between what I'm used to back in London and what I have to adapt to here is like night and day. One thing that has become very evident the longer I stay here is that culturally, I am definitely more British than I am Gambian and having grown up in London that may seem obvious but that in itself has been challenging. I think I'm learning and slowly but surely finding the path to a middle ground bridging the gap between the two...
Fanta Jarjussey is a British-Gambian freelance journalist