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Production of African identity: An explorative study of The Roots Festival

Journal article
Authors F. Y. Drammeh
Tommy D. Andersson
Published in African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure
Volume 8
Issue 1
ISSN 2223-814X
Publication year 2019
Published at Centre for Tourism
Language en
Keywords Destination capitals, Identity, Roots festival, Sustainable tourism development, The Gambia
Subject categories Economics and Business


The Roots Festival has been organized in The Gambia since 1996 in an effort to attract diaspora Africans who are interested in their own identity and Afro-American history. The festival is inspired by the story "Roots" by Alex Haley (1976) which has been a world-wide success as a book, as well as a film and a TV series. This study looks at the role of the festival in terms of identity formation for festival visitors and reflects on the production of festival activities in the context of the Roots Festival. The study is exploratory in nature and aims for a better understanding of the production of festival activities. The theoretical framework is based on a model of destination capitals by Sharpley (2010) adapted to a LDC context by Drammeh (2013). An explorative survey of 22 stakeholders provides data for a description and discussion of the Roots festival activities organized to build identities with the use of destination capitals. Stakeholders also suggested activities to enhance the value of the Roots Festival for participants. In the concluding section, the role of the festival for sustainable tourism development in The Gambia is discussed. Based on the survey and a discussion about the concept of the destination capitals for sustainable tourism development, Roots festival can be conceptualized as a mechanism for tourism development by bringing forth the culture and history of the people of The Gambia. The festival also stimulates cultural all year round tourism activities on the destination. © 2019 AJHTL.

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