Facts About Gambia’s Culture, Geography, and History
Right on the westernmost point of Africa lies the Republic of Gambia. Its coastline is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the River Gambia flows through the center. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa.
Its capital city is Banjul. The history of this country has been shaped very much by colonialism and slavery. Despite all of this, the Republic of Gambia has survived and continues to forge ahead. Read on to find out more about this resilient group of people called Gambians.
11. Gambians believe that boys just circumcised are most vulnerable to attack by evil spirits and witches
Before Gambian boys hit puberty, they must go through circumcision in order to be initiated into manhood. The Kankurang, a respected elder in the community, is the one who performs this operation.
He leads the children into the bush and is also responsible for teaching the boys about herbs, their uses and their responsibility as men in the community. The Kankurang duties also involve using magic to protect the boys from evil spirits and witches.
Gambians believe that boys who are just circumcised are most vulnerable to evil spirits and witches who might want to possess them.
11. Baboon Islands in The Gambia is a rehabilitation center for chimpanzees
In 1969, English woman Stella Brewer Marsden started the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project (CRP) to return rescued chimps back to the wild. Rehabilitated chimps were given homes on the Baboon Islands.
The Baboon Islands consist of five islands located on River Gambia. Baboon Islands are now home to hundreds of chimpanzees. Visitors can view the chimps from the mainland but are not able to go closer as humans are prohibited from going on the island.
9. The Gambian national sport is a form of wrestling known as ‘Borreh’.
The Gambia’s national sport is Borreh. Borreh is a form of wrestling, not all that different from the wrestling you see on TV. The goal of the wrestlers is to eject their opponent out of the ring, take them off their feet or to knock them on all fours in order to win.
The sport is played in a ring delineated by sandbags. As this is a popular sport in West Africa, the best fighters get the chance to compete with fighters from other West African countries in international matches.
8. People cast their votes in elections in The Gambia by dropping stones in holes.
On Election Day, Gambians go to vote with stones or marbles in hand. Gambians vote by dropping their stones or marbles in a drum with the picture of their preferred politician. Officials count the number of votes at the end of voting by dropping them special trays with home.
This unique system came about 60 years to include illiterate Gambians in the election proceedings of their country. Before you try to bash it, the electoral officials boast that their “electoral commission is more transparent, credible, and fair.”
7. The national football team of The Gambia is nicknamed The Scorpions.
The Gambia has a national football team, controlled by The Gambia Football Federation and coached by Sang Ndong.
Gambians nickname the national football team is The Scorpions. The national football team despite their name has never qualified for the World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations final. They really should start living up to their nickname and start with some stinging wins.
6. The official title of The Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh ever since taking office gave to himself a number of titles. There is no explanation of the Sheikh title but it is alleged that the President bestowed upon himself Professorship after saying that he found the cure for AIDS and several other diseases.
The Doctor title he assumed after being awarded an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws by a Canadian university. Succeeding presidents also have to take on these titles, therefore, the official title of a Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
5. In 2007, Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh announced that he had found a cure for Aids made from boiled herbs.
In 2007, the Gambia’s president shocked some people when he announced that he had found the cure for AIDS.
He claimed that he had concocted several treatments from herbs and bananas that could be used to effectively treat AIDS. His overall treatment consisted of applying the herbal paste to the body and drinking a herbal concoction consistently for thirty days.
A UN representative subsequently questioned his cure and was thrown out of the country. This is a heads up on not what to do if you ever find yourself in the Gambia.
4. The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake
To put it simply, the Gambia consists of the banks on both sides of Gambia River and the Baboon Islands located on the river. The country’s area is so small that Senegal surrounds it on all sides except for the westernmost point. This is where the Gambia River empties itself into the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Tourists visiting The Gambia enjoy sunbathing on pristine white beaches whilst bird watchers are attracted by 569 species of birds.
With its coast on the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia is blessed with white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Situated in the tropics, this country has warm sea water and palm trees dancing on un-crowded beaches.
The beaches attract tourists who want to catch a tan before or after going Chimpanzee watching. The Gambia also attracts bird lovers with its over 500 species of birds. There are many sites that visitors can go to bask in the beauty and sounds of The Gambia’s birds
2. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa.
As previously stated, The Gambia is very small. It is really a narrow strip of land with a river running through the center. It covers an area of 10,689 square kilometers (4,127 sq mi) has a population of 1,882,450 people. The Gambia is slightly smaller than the island of Jamaica found in the Caribbean.
1. In 1964, the prime minister of The Gambia said that one of the reasons they like to have ‘The’ in their name is to avoid confusion with Zambia
Gambia? Zambia? One might get them confused right? Well in 1964, the then president took measures to prevent persons from confusing The Gambia with Zambia? He added the “The” to Gambia so that the country was now officially recognized to as The Gambia.
Another reason the president added the was to differentiate the Gambia River from the country.
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