The newly appointed Ambassador of the Republic of The Gambia to the United States of America, His Excellency Momodou Lamin Bah, on Monday 14 November, 2022 officially assumed his duties at the Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Bah was appointed Ambassador on 8 July, 2022. His appointment came on the heels of the untimely demise of the late Ambassador H.E. Dawda Fadera on 20 February, 2022.
With his appointment, Ambassador Bah is now the thirteen (13) appointed Ambassador of the Republic of The Gambia to the United States of America since the Embassy was established in 1979. He is tasked to solidify diplomatic relations between Banjul and Washington, Canada, Federative Republic of Brazil and Mexico.
The Embassy in Washington, D.C. was established by the Government of His Excellency Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in 1979. According to Mr. Hassoum Ceesay, Historian and Director at the National Centre for Arts and Culture, culture formed the basis for the establishment of The Gambia’s first-ever diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Ceesay recalled that the idea of opening an Embassy in the United States came to the Jawara Government following the publication of Alex Haley’s book – The Roots. He said before the publication of the book, the film on Roots was released in 1977. This, he added, made The Gambia popular in the US and the Government was advised to exploit the publicity that The Gambia could gain from the publication of the book and the release of the film which has its subject ‘Kunta Kinteh of Jufureh’, The Gambia.
Mr. Ceesay said as a result of this development, in 1977 The Gambia Government decided to send a Cultural Mission to the United States of America. The aim of the Cultural Mission, he said, was to utilise the publicity that Alex Haley had created, thus giving The Gambia a better image and a better presence in the United States of America, and in North America and in the Caribbean.
He said twenty-one (21) member Cultural Mission was dispatched and headed by Dr. Lenrie Peters, the then Chairman of the National Museum and Monuments Commission, who was accompanied by the following officials: Mr. Bakary Sidibeh, Culture Officer at Office of the President, Mr. Charles Thomas, Assistant Secretary at the Office of the President, Mr. Sime Kinteh, a high ranking officer at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Junydi Jallow, a Tourism officer at the National Tourism Office of The Gambia. The team was also accompanied by great Mandinka singer and kora player, Mr. Nana Sakliba and Mr. Jali Nyma Susso; and great Wollof Halam player, Mr. Abdoulie Samba.
He said the amount of money spent by the Jawara Government on air tickets and perdiems and the total cost attached to transporting 21 member delegation to North America shows how determined and ready the Government was to start to dialogue with the people of America.
He said that the trip was successful and the delegation visited 13 States in America before going to the Caribbean where they also did a presentation on The Gambia. Mr. Ceesay explained that in each of the States, the delegation met with the Governor (now Congressman) of that State and other influential black Africans in media, politics, and business and in diplomacy.
He said when the delegation returned to Banjul, they submitted a report and recommended that The Gambia should make best use of Alex Haley’s book which gave the country a big name by opening a diplomatic representation in the form of an Embassy in the United States of America.
The recommendation for opening of an Embassy, Mr. Ceesay revealed was very appealing to the then Secretary General Office of the President, Mr. Eric Christensen, who he said advised the former President His Excellency Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara to approve the opening of The Gambia’s first Diplomatic Mission in Washington, D.C. He concluded that the process to open the Embassy took the Government some time before finally opening it in 1979.