Jetlag is an
For two weeks I lived in Banjul, Gambia with Professor
Adenike Sharpley and three other members of Dance
I studied small aspects of Gambian culture through
observation, interaction, and conversations with the
residents of Kotu, Banjul.
All of the sources I read from about the Gambia to
prepare for the trip spoke of only 6 tribes in the
Gambia. On this trip, I learned of 10: the
Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Jola, Sarahuli, Aku,
Sere, Manjago, Bananda, and Owsa. The
We studied dance and rhythms with
Kumba and Sene Jaila, members of a
family troupe called Nimba. My
teachers belonged to the Owsa tribe and
are SouSous, originally from Guinea.
On the days we did not have class, we traveled to the Birikama Wood Market
and Baka Batik Market where we got to observe master carvers and batik
makers at work.
James Island, Albreda
Aslave fort where African captives from the West cost were held before the
Atlantic voyage. We were told a story that after the slave trade was outlawed the
fort’s officials told the prisoners that if they could swim to shore they would be
freed. Weak from poor nourishment and mistreatment, many of the prisoners who
took the challenge drowned in the water. The ones that made it to shore were
The shore is home to a monument on
which “Slavery, Never Again!” is
written. It is a statue of an open
armed body wearing broken shackles.
We met the only female mayor in the Gambia, and visited the descendants of
Kunta Kinteh in Juffure.
The family is sustained primarily through tourism and
interactions with people who travel to Juffure as part of the
Roots Festival, which takes place every 2 years. Therefore the
family struggles financially. Alex Haley promised to help the
family but did not keep his word. Professor Sharpley brought
rice and gave it to the eldest member of the family-- who was so
overwhelmed with joy that she prayed for each one of us.
“This trip will be life changing!”
Its truly was.
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