The Illegal Migration Arts Exhibition, produced by Gambian and Senegalese artists, kicked off on Friday 11 July, 2008 at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne in Serrekunda.
Jointly organized by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Association des Artistes Platiciens de Pikine (Dakar, Senegal), the exhibition addresses illegal immigration through paintings that potray the dramatic reality taking place every day on the Atlantic Ocean.
Scheduled for the 11-18 July, 2008, the exhibition is meant to reflect the perilous journey to the European citadel, as experienced by young Gambians and Senegalese. Some of the art pieces on display not only include images and messages dealing with illegal immigration, but also intend to capture the essence of the theme centred on ‘‘Painting migration in the sub-region’’.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Mambanyick Njie, deputy permanent secretary at the Department of State for Youth and Sports ( DoSYS), indicated that thousands of would-be sub-saharian migrants risk their lives to reach Europe by sea. Economic hardship in their countries of origin, he explained, pushes them to embark on dangerous journeys towards Europe, hoping for a better life. ‘‘But African youths have to beware of the subsequent disappointment, because the everyday life of illegal immigrants inevitably falls short of their hopes and expectations,’’ he advised.
He went on to say that there is an urgent need to raise awareness amongst children in the sub-region on the dangers of a perilous trip by sea or across the desert. ‘‘It is disheartening to see our Gambian and African youth fall prey to the deceit of many who assure them that they are making a journey to the Promised Land,’’ he said.
In a similar vein, Ansumana Krubally, deputy permanent secretary at the Department of State for the Interior, outlined the fact that illegal migration is a very important and indeed problematic for the youth in The Gambia as well as in Africa.
Acknowledging the fact that the complexity of the phenomenon of illegal migration renders the fight against it difficult, he pointed out that there is need to put in place a linkage of all actors who can make a contribution towards its eradication. ‘‘In our quest to curb illegal migration we need to look for new ways to raise awareness amongst the youth population. They should be allowed to express their views on the subject. In my view, this painting exhibition has proved an excellent forum for such an interaction to take place,’’ he noted.
Meanwhile, the art exhibition seems to have evoked an emotional response. AFG continues to be stormed by a big crowd. Other speakers included artists such as Momodou Camara, Mor Faye, Dié Fall-Kane. Oko Drammeh was the master of ceremonies.
The ceremony was graced by Laurent de Boeck, IOM Deputy Regional Representative, the Unicef Country Rep in The Gambia, officials from the Department of State for Basic Education, Kanfing Municipal Council as well as the City of Pikine (Senegal) and representatives from the Senegalese High Commissioner.