History of the Gambia

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Old map of the region from the Andrees General Handatlas (1881)

The history of the Gambia includes both the present-day West African state of Gambia , whose state was founded or independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, as well as areas that are not part of the state territory of the Gambia today. Gambia is in the seasonally dry tropics and with an area of 11,295 square kilometers, the smallest territorial state on the African continent. Its history is closely linked to the history of Senegal due to its geographic location .

Early days

Caravan through the Sahara

From the region of the Sahara , which was once fertile, as the rock carvings in Tassili n'Ajjer show, the peoples gradually moved south, around 2500 BC. The desertification progressed. The oldest skeleton finds in West Africa date from the Neolithic . It is believed that the pygmies lived in the 6th millennium BC. Lived in West Africa and later migrated to Central Africa or were displaced by peoples moving south. Even Herodotus reported a diminutive people beyond the desert. The fertile banks of the Gambia and Senegal rivers have been around since the 2nd millennium BC. Settled as recent excavations show.

In the 8th century BC The Sahel , then a lush green landscape, was still rich in wilderness . At this time nomadic tribes settled the region and the hunters and gatherers gradually turned into sedentary farmers and fishermen. Finds of paleolithic tools provide information about the early settlers.

Written records go back to pre-Christian times; the Carthaginian Hanno the Seafarer gave the first written testimony around 470 BC. In the report of his trip to the Gulf of Guinea . During his stay in Egypt , the Greek historian Herodotus (484–424 BC) compiled reports from North African travelers who were affected by the Trans-Saharan trade , which began around the 1st millennium BC. BC, had contact with the West African peoples. The connection to the Mediterranean area diminished with the fall of the Roman Empire and later with the spread of Islam . A Roman expedition, led by Polybios in 146 BC, is supposed to be carried out . Reached the waters of Senegal; there is a credible record of it.

The enigmatic stone circles of Wassu

The finds north and south of the Gambia estuary were dated to the 4th century AD, where large garbage dumps of mussels were found. The sea animals served the population as food - mussels are still collected in Oyster Creek (whose name is derived from oyster ) in the Tanbi Wetland Complex .

From the 3rd century BC Until the 13th century AD, the mysterious megaliths , the Senegambian stone circles , were erected. Their exact meaning is still in the dark - just like the origin of their builders. Scientists suspect that these are grave complexes. On the basis of grave goods , the age of these formations, which can be found hundreds of times in the Central River region and in neighboring Senegal, can be dated to around the year 750 (several sources also incorrectly indicate the 8th century BC).

The old empires

Since there was no tradition of historiography in the Western sense in almost all African empires for a long time, the tradition was oral . Further sources result from reports of the Islamic trading partners and conquerors, which are available in large numbers due to the long and extensive trading tradition of the empires.

The Ghana Empire

The Ghana Empire in its presumed extent

The legendary kingdom of Ghana, which has no historical connections with the modern state of Ghana , was probably founded by light-skinned Berber peoples around the 8th century, according to another source as early as the 3rd century. It had its peak in the 9th and 10th centuries under the leadership of the dark-skinned Serahuli (also Soninke) people . Their western influence as far as the Gambia Valley reached from the 10th to the 11th century and was ended by the conquest of Koumbi Saleh , the then capital of Ghana, by the Almoravids in 1076.

The basis of power was the Trans-Saharan trade, which had experienced a new boom under Ghana. So were gold , ivory , cotton and leather with North African merchants against copper , salt , silk and other goods exchanged. In addition to the salt trade , slaves are also said to have been traded northwards. The basis of the gold trade was gold deposits in Bambouk and Fouta Djallon , the mountainous region from which the Gambia, Senegal and many other rivers have their source. The reputation of the legendary gold country Ghana reached back to the caliph of Baghdad, Hārūn ar-Raschīd .

The Mali Empire

The Mali Empire in its presumed extent
Detail of the Catalan World Atlas (1375): Mansa Kankan Musa I holds a gold nugget

At the beginning of the 13th century, the Mandinka people took control of the lucrative Trans-Saharan trade from upper Niger. Sundiata Keïta , called the lion , founded the kingdom of Mali in 1235. This empire also has nothing to do with modern Mali - as with Ghana, a historical name was used here to find a name. Keita had it expanded to the Gambia Valley by his generals in a very short time. At its peak, the empire was larger in extent than the Ghanaian empire and encompassed almost all of West Africa. After the conquest of the territories, the Mandinka were intensively settled and numerous satellite states emerged, which were subordinate to the Mali emperor, and which in turn were subordinate to many small kingdoms.

Thus, among other things, the satellite state Kaabu of the traditional Mandinka clan of the Nyancho came into being in the west , which lay in the area of ​​today's Casamance and whose border extended to today's states of Guinea-Bissau and Guinea . The influence to the north was strengthened by the alternate marriage of the Nyancho family with the peoples in the more northerly regions, such as the Wolof , the Serer and the Bainounka . In the 16th century almost all small states in the Gambia were under the power of Nyancho. This is how the small states of Niumi , Baddibu , Eropina , Kombo , Foni (other spelling Fogny or Fogni ) and Kiang emerged on the river . Three large Mandinka families played a major role, the Jammeh, Manneh and Sonko. The Jammeh clan had its roots in the Nyancho clan and was connected to the Serer of the Saloum area . They settled Baddibu and founded the state of Niumi (in German sea ​​coast, called Barra by the Portuguese ) in the early 15th century . In Foni and Kiang the Manneh clan ruled, which also descended from the Nyancho clan Kaabus. These two clans united their strengths together with the Sonko clan in Nuimi, who settled in Eropina. Due to the strategically favorable location at the mouth of the Gambia on the coast (Nuimi was where the North Bank region is today), the Nuimika benefited from the lucrative inland and river trade. With the arrival of the Europeans, trade turned more and more towards the Atlantic . Nuimi was able to consolidate his power through the Afro-European trade, whereas the old empires, which had achieved their prosperity through the trans-Saharan trade, lost influence. With the Trans-Saharan trade, Islam also came to West Africa, but at the same time this trade lost the importance of earlier days. Nuimi had a strong position and dominance over other small states in the Gambia Valley until the 19th century. Only later in the wars of religion was the supremacy of the Mandinka states replaced by the Islamic Fulbe .

In addition to the rule of the Mandinka, the political influence of the Wolof in the Gambia Valley played a role. In the 16th century, most of the states on the north bank, apart from Nuimi and Baddibu, were under the suzerainty of the Wolof ruler, alongside Saloum. These were Niani , which separated as Upper Niani and Lower Niani , and Wuli . The center of this state was the Jolof empire , located between the Gambia and Senegal rivers , which had been founded in the 13th century and existed until the late 19th century. This landlocked country was initially governed by a centralized government until it was broken up into individual states.

Other small states on the south bank were: Jarra , Niamina , Eropina , Jimara , Tomani (different spelling Tomana ) and Kantora . Many of these states are still handed down in the names of the 37 districts of Gambia (two maps showing the approximate territories of the small states can be found on the website of Mariama Kanteh, see sources).

Worth mentioning is the theory of the Malian playwright and radio play author Gaoussou Diawara, according to which the king of Mali, Abubakari II (r. 1310-1312), from Gambia with about 2000 ocean-going ships (half of them with drinking water and provisions) Crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed on the coast of Brazil or alternatively in the Gulf of Mexico. In a previous first expedition on his orders, in which he did not take part personally, Abubakari II is said to have sent 200 ships across the Atlantic, all but one of which sank by a violent storm at sea. Diawara's theory is based on several pieces of evidence. For example, two skeletons of around 30-year-old men were found in the Caribbean Virgin Islands who are said to have exhibited negroid characteristics. According to the soil samples, the men must have been buried there around 1250, long before Abubakari's alleged expedition. The bones have never been examined and have since disappeared, so that they can easily be used for all kinds of speculations.

The Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire in its presumed extent

From the early 15th to the late 16th centuries, the Songha Empire was the third great West African empire in history. The central power of the empire, which was based on the location on the Niger , emanated from the city of Gao . From there, the Songhaire empire stretched along the river to today's Nigeria in the northeast, to Mali in the north and to the west in some cases even as far as the Atlantic Ocean to Gambia. The name of the empire comes from its dominant ethnic group, the Songhai . The Songhaire Empire, which was weakened by numerous civil wars from 1582, was defeated by the Moroccan rulers in 1591 . Because of the size of the former empire, however, the Moroccans withdrew from the area and left the Songha empire split up into individual small kingdoms. In the Gambia Valley, however, the Songha Empire had little influence on history.

Pre-colonial period

The discovery by the Portuguese

Nuno Tristão, here on an old 50 escudos banknote, is considered to be the European explorer of the Gambia
Replica of a Portuguese caravel with a latin sail , as was common around 1500

At the beginning of the 15th century, the path of the first Europeans led to the western tip of Africa. Driven by the reports of Arab geographers and cartographers about the immeasurable riches as well as the legendary priest king Johannes , the Portuguese Heinrich “the Navigator” sent numerous expeditions from 1418 and in 1434 had Cape Bojador by Gil Eanes circumnavigated. Nuno Tristão and Antão Gonçalves reached Cape Blanc in 1441 , and Dinis Dias finally reached Cabo Verde in 1444 , the westernmost tip of continental Africa, where Senegal's capital Dakar is now. In 1446 António Fernandes advanced as far as today's coast of Sierra Leone .

Nuno Tristão was the first to reach the mouth of the Gambia in the summer of 1446 . The resident African peoples, however, feared the strange, fair-skinned people and believed that cannibals were now reaching the coast, so they first attacked the Portuguese and killed many seafarers; Tristão also died of an injury on the way back.

But rumors about immense gold deposits in the Gambia left Heinrich the navigator in no time. He sent the Venetian Alvise Cadamosto , who was accompanied by the Genoese Antoniotto Usodimare , to the Gambia again in 1455. But they failed again because of resistance from the locals. In the following year, Cadamosto was commissioned with a second expedition to continue exploring the Gambia estuary. On the way there he discovered the Cape Verde Islands in 1456 and after a short stay there he continued his journey to the Gambia. This time he managed to drive 100 kilometers up the river and make contact with the local residents. He was able to meet numerous kings, for example he signed a friendship treaty with Batti Mansa , the king of Baddibu, and also met Nuimi's king Nomi Mansa on the way back. Mansa was impressed by Christianity and had the Portuguese king ask in writing to send a priest. Cadamosto also traded and acquired gold dust and slaves. Serious febrile illnesses of his crew, from which about a third of his sailors died, forced Cadamosto to break off the voyage in 1456 and return to Portugal. They were probably infected with a tropical disease such as malaria .

Diego Gómez , who explored the Gambia in 1458, sailed up the river about 450 kilometers in three ships to Kantora in the east of today's Upper River Region . There he learned details about the gold deposits in the Fouta Djallon plateau and the gold mines of the Mali emperor. Gómez exchanged favors and returned to Europe with slaves, among other things. The slaves of this time were more likely to be presented as attractions in Europe or employed as exotic house servants, the extensive use as cheap labor came later.

In the period that followed, Portuguese priests - the first to accompany Gómez - settled in Nuimi at the request of Mansa and brought Christianity to Gambia for the first time. Mansa had meanwhile lost interest in Christianity again. For this purpose they built a chapel near the town of Albreda and named the town San Domingo . Since Islam had already gained a foothold in Gambia, the missionaries were never able to assert themselves successfully in this region. Further bases followed on the south bank with Bintang , on a tributary of the Gambia the Bintang Bolong , Tankular , Niani Maru and Kassan . And also Fattatenda and Kuntaur on the upper reaches of the Gambia, were founded by the Portuguese as trading posts.

Further expeditions followed and the friendly relationship was expanded. For example, the cries for help of the ruler of Mali, Mamadu , were heard when he was attacked by the Songhai in 1481. In order to maintain good trade contacts, the Portuguese sent him two ambassadors, but they could not achieve much. Another example of the friendly relationship is the visit of a representative of the Wolof Empire to Portugal in 1488. The Portuguese secured trade ties with the peoples on the banks of the river and a small number of them settled in the country. Not least through mixed marriages, they influenced the population. As the leading sea power at the time, they contributed to decisive improvements in the local boat building trade and fishing. They showed the Mandinka a more stately house-building style and imported numerous useful plants such as orange , banana , papaya , cassava (manioc), guava , maize and also the peanut , which is dominant in agriculture today . The rice found its way to West Africa before the 15th century through the Trans-Saharan trade. In the Mandinka language , the Portuguese language also left numerous words.

Through the papal bull Aeterni regis , which was issued on June 21, 1481, the Portuguese secured the acquisition of land on the African coast against Spanish interests. Twelve years later it was expanded to include the inter caetera .

The English start trading

King James I of England

In 1588 the Portuguese lost their trading rights in the Gambia Valley and on the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Portugal was then led by the Spanish throne in personal union, and when the Spanish Armada was defeated in the battle against England , Queen Elizabeth I obtained trading rights from António von Crato , who had previously tried in vain to regain the throne of Portugal. Elizabeth I later sold the trading privileges to English traders ( Company of Devon and London Merchants ), who had first visited the Gambia in 1587. But already in 1562 Sir John Hawkins had been to the Gambia and had stolen 300 slaves from the Portuguese. He sold these in Santo Domingo (today the Dominican Republic ) and thus founded the Atlantic slave trade .

In 1618, King James I granted the Company of Adventurers of London exclusive rights to trade with the Gambia and the Gold Coast. To protect English interests against Dutch and French influence on the coast of Guinea , as the entire region was then called, the Guinea Company was founded. The following year the first slaves arrived in the young colony of Virginia in America . Numerous expeditions were undertaken to finally discover the fabulous gold lands in the interior of Africa. The Gambia was also thought to be Niger at the time. A first British expedition by the Company of Adventurers failed, and the second Timbuktu expedition under George Thompson was also unlucky in 1618. His ship was attacked and sunk by the Portuguese, and many of his crew members were killed. A short time later he was killed by an African. Two years later than Thompson, Richard Jobson , who spent the years 1620 and 1621 in the Gambia and wrote numerous travel reports about the country and its people, reached the Barrakunda Falls .

From around 1652 the English exported more and more slaves in addition to skins , ivory, wax and small amounts of gold; the Atlantic slave trade developed into a lucrative industry. The need for cheap labor grew because sugar cane cultivation was successfully introduced on the plantations in the Caribbean, on the West Indies . The Atlantic triangular trade was favored by the wind and ocean currents. The Canary Current and the trade wind brought the sailing ships to the Gambia estuary, the north equatorial current drifted the slave ships towards the West Indies. For example, between January and June 1698, 3600 slaves were abducted from the Gambia by English traders. The human trafficking , participating in which African and Arab merchants, rose in the following decades to grow.

The German-Baltic period

Duke Jakob Kettler
James Island in 2004

Duke Jakob Kettler from Kurland wanted to strengthen the economic power of the German-Baltic country in the 17th century. He tried several times to promote the Courland colonization in the southern Caribbean on Tobago , for which he needed another trading post to provide labor. To do this, he sent Major Heinrich Fock on an expedition to the Gambia with two ships. He acquired from the King of Nuimi on October 26, 1651 a strategically favorable position in the Gambia, a small island which the Portuguese called Isla de Andrea during Cadamosto's second expedition (later St. Andrew Island ); there they had buried a Portuguese navigator named Andrea. From then on he called it Jakobs Island (later James Island, today Kunta Kinteh Island) and had a trading post in Courland ( Fort Jakob ) built there. At the same time he acquired a small piece of land on the north bank of the river, near the town of Juffure , where Fort Jillifree was built. He leased the island of Banjol (now St. Mary's Island ) from the king of Kombo, the empire on the southern bank of the Gambia estuary, where the West Coast region is today . A smaller trading post ( Fort Bayona ) was built on Banjol.

The German-Baltic settlers lived in friendship with the locals under Governor Otto Stiel . They were encouraged by Duke Jakob to learn their language and to respect their customs and religion. The duke treated the kings of the Gambian states as equal rulers and gave them rich gifts. The African rulers, who themselves sent an embassy to Mitau in Courland (today Jelgava ), thanked him with the active military support of the Courland forts against Dutch invaders. However, the Courland properties were occupied by the Dutch West India Company (WIC) between February 4, 1659 and June 10, 1660 and a second time between July 3, 1660 and August 2, 1660.

The presence of German-Baltic settlers and traders from 1651 onwards was short-lived, as the Duke was captured by the Swedish during the Swedish-Polish War (1655-1660) and the Courland colonialism thus ended. In the following years James Island changed hands several times, several European nations, private merchants and pirates were interested in this island. Since the island's water and wood supply was dependent on the mainland, the kings of Nuimi repeatedly intervened in the disputes with alternating sides.

The British-French rivalry

King James II of England (1684)
Sir Frescheville Holles (left) and Sir Robert Holmes (right) (1670)
Map of the region, excerpt from the Carte de la Barbarie de la Nigritie et de La Guinee by Guillaume Delisle (1707)
Fort James on James Island (1755)
Much like this replica of a Swedish East Indiaman (1745), the freighters sailed at that time

In 1660 a new trading company , the Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa, was founded in England . It was supposed to revive trade between West Africa and England. To this end, King Charles II granted the company a patent that gave the English crown all territorial and commercial rights, regardless of local rulers or the rights of other nations. In order to protect the interests of England and to protect the Company of Royal Adventurers, the English major and later Admiral Robert Holmes sailed with his flagship, the Henrietta , and four other ships off the coast of West Africa. He had a fort built on Dog Island in the mouth of the Gambia . He named the small island, which is strategically located, in honor of the king Charles Island . Jacob's Island, which was actually owned by Courland and was under Dutch occupation at the time, was occupied by Major Holmes on March 19, 1661 and named in honor of the head of the Company of Royal Adventurers, the Duke of York and later King of England James II . called James Iceland. Holmes' crew built a new fort there ( Fort James ) and stationed a garrison on the island. The branches in Gambia were under the administration of the Gambia Adventurers from August 1, 1669 .

At the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1665-1667) the Company of Royal Adventurers collapsed, but was re-established in 1672 as the Royal African Company (RAC). On November 17, 1664, the Courland trading posts were officially handed over to England. In a second expedition from 1664 on, Robert Holmes took numerous trading offices of the Dutch West India Company along the West African coast and also handed them over to the RAC. During the voyages, Holmes tested the pendulum clock developed by Christiaan Huygens at sea , with which he was able to navigate better at sea because he could better determine the geographical longitude thanks to the more precise time. The factories , as the trading posts are also called, at that time were Bintang, James Island, Juffure, Janjanbureh Island , Banjul Point on St. Mary's Island and in the far east Barrakunda at the Barrakunda Falls .

The French, who founded their first settlement in what is now Senegal in 1626, have meanwhile been able to establish themselves on the lower reaches of Senegal. The French trading company Sénégal Compagnie , founded in 1673, was able to conclude contracts with the local rulers in Nuimi, which allowed them to open a trading post in 1681 at Albreda near Juffure and James Island. Three years later, the RAC took over the Gambia Adventurers. The whole of Senegal was occupied by the English from January to July 1693. James Island, too, and with it the entire political and economic rule in the river, has remained the bone of contention of nations for a hundred years since the first fort was built in 1651. So it was captured on July 27, 1695 during the Palatine War of Succession (also King William's War , 1689-1697) by the French after a battle with English seamen, but not occupied, returned to England in September 1697 with the Peace of Rijswijk . The RAC then set out in April 1699 to rebuild the fort as quickly as possible, but previously lost the trade monopoly in the Gambia in 1698 and from then on had to compete with other companies.

During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), the French succeeded again in 1702 - and several times in the following years - to capture and plunder James Island. The administrators of the RAC were able to buy back the island. The trading companies of both nations considered converting the Gambia into a neutral zone, but the governments did not allow it. The James Fort garrison mutinied in 1708 because of the poor conditions resulting from the fragmentation of trade and the lack of supplies from London. The fort was abandoned on May 20, 1709 and remained abandoned until November 13, 1713.

With the Peace of Utrecht (1713) the previous status was restored and the RAC rebuilt Fort James in 1717, but was attacked by pirates in 1719 and, after unsuccessful resistance, robbed of all goods and slaves. Between 1720 and 1729 the British and French attacked each other several times. In an accident in 1725 the powder magazine of the fort exploded and partially destroyed it. In 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), Fort Albreda was destroyed and only built after the Peace of Aachen in 1748. Economically, the RAC went downhill from 1750 until it was dissolved in 1752. The management of the British trading offices was taken over on June 13, 1750 by the Company of Merchant Adventurers . The Kingdom of Great Britain conquered the trading posts in French Senegal on April 30, 1758 during the Seven Years' War (1756–1763).

The British colony

Crown Colony of Senegambia

With the Paris Peace of 1763 Gorée was ceded again to France. The French attacks continued, however, so that on May 25, 1765, the British Parliament placed the British possessions on the Senegal and Gambia rivers under the Crown and combined them as the Crown Colony of Senegambia , the first British colony in Africa. The administrative seat of the first governor Charles O'Hara was St. Louis at the mouth of Senegal, which was founded as a French settlement in 1659. During the American War of Independence (1775–1783), the British colonies in West Africa remained defenseless, so that at the end of January 1779 the French managed to recapture the trading posts in Senegal. They succeeded again on February 11, 1779, to take Fort James and destroy it to the ground. Since then, James Island has not played a significant role in Gambian history, during which the fort was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. From 1815 it was also abandoned by the British. An attack by the French in 1780 from the water on the trading post of a British trader in Bintang was foiled. The local population, which came mainly from the Diola ethnic group , prevented the French from landing and destroying the factory with a group of 400 men.

Ship that is similar to a British ship from 1797
Sketch map of Mungo Parks Travel in West Africa

With the Peace of Paris on September 3, 1783, which ended the American War of Independence , rule over Gambia was redistributed. The French got most of Senegambia and the British got the Gambia Valley. Only a small enclave around Albreda was awarded to the French; this was finally given up in 1857 and ceded to Great Britain. Since the crown colony had been dissolved, there were considerations in London to convert the Gambia into a penal colony , then the trading rights were transferred back to a British company.

Since Africa was still considered terra incognita , the thirst for knowledge about the African hinterland awoke again. The British wanted to develop further trading opportunities in the upper Niger. To explore the overland route, the African Association sent Major Daniel Houghton to Gambia. Houghton started in 1790 and has been considered lost ever since. His last message from West Africa contained important aggregated information. Through him it was known that Niger has no connection with the Gambia. With these findings, Mungo Park , which was also financed by the African Association, traveled to Pisania (now Karantaba Tenda ) in the upper Gambia, 330 kilometers from the estuary , after a short stopover in Jillifree . He spent five months there and learned the Mandinka language. On December 2, 1795, he left Pisania, set out for the east and returned after a year and a half. In the meantime he got the information that Houghton was probably robbed and then died of thirst or starved to death. He did not return from his second expedition, which Park carried out with a military escort on behalf of the British government in 1805.

Bathurst founded

Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst

It remains unknown exactly how many slaves were robbed by African and Arab traders before and during the transatlantic slave trade. These were each sold to Europeans. Some slaves were kidnapped, others were sold as prisoners of war in tribal wars, while others became slaves because of debts. In the early days of slavery, the people of Europe served as servants until the 18th century labor market in the Caribbean and North America saw more slaves demand. During the time of the transatlantic slave trade, conservatively estimated twelve million Africans, more than three million of them from the Senegambia region alone , were deported to America by slave ships such as the Lord Ligonier . Extreme estimates put up to 100 million Africans who perished in connection with the slave trade. After Britain lost the American colonies and no longer needed slaves, it stopped the slave trade. The abolitionist movement began. The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland had passed laws on this, which in 1807 completely banned trade on British ships and in 1811 the slave trade . On the British Isles themselves, slavery was forbidden as early as 1772. France did not prohibit the slave trade in the colonies until 1848.

From July 13, 1809 to January 25, 1817, Senegal was again in British possession. However, slave ships continued to appear in the Gambia, including numerous American traders who continued to rely on cheap labor. The French also continued to lead their slaves to Albreda and Gorée, the methods of the slave traders becoming increasingly brutal. Now the British, who had been boarding foreign slave ships from James Island since 1807, at the forefront among them the politician Sir Charles MacCarthy , wanted to prevent the slave trade in the Gambia even more effectively. To do this, they planned to build military bases on the Gambia, for this purpose Captain Alexander Grant leased the island of Banjol (other spelling "Banjulo") from Tomany Bojang , the king of the combo, from the Royal African Corps on August 23, 1816 , and named it Island now St. Mary's Island. The Bathurst settlement was built around the newly stationed garrison, laying the foundation for the modern colony of Gambia and the future capital of Banjul . At his urging, Christian missionaries also came to Bathurst, which was named after the then Colonial Minister Henry Bathurst .

British colony under Sierra Leone I

British West Africa flag
The peanut, grown in monoculture, developed into the Gambia's most important export good from 1830 (picture from 1949)

On October 17, 1821, all British settlements in the Gambia Valley came under the central colonial government of British West Africa in Freetown , Sierra Leone . Grant acquired another military post in 1823 with Janjanbureh Island from the King of Lower Niani and named it MacCarthy Island from then on. Here he had the Fort George built, around which the settlement Georgetown (today Janjanbureh) arose. The contract with the King of Kombo was renewed in 1827, so that Bathurst could be fully integrated into the colony. Grant acquired another post at Fattatenda in 1829 from the King of Wuli in the Upper Gambia.

In 1826 a treaty was signed with the Nuimika that allowed the British to trade freely within a mile of the waterways. On the opposite side of the Gambia estuary, within sight of Bathurst, near Essau , the capital of Nuimi, Fort Bullen , named after Charles Bullen , was built in 1827. The British settlement of Barra developed around the fort. With the establishment of Bathurst, the Nuimika lost influence in favor of the King of Kombo. The Nuimika became angry with the end of the slave trade, from which the King of Nuimi profited, and the unauthorized lowering of tariffs on merchant ships by the British. In August 1831 the charged mood in Barra escalated to the Barra War . Due to a small argument, the alarm was raised at Fort Bullen, which was also heard in Bathurst, and help was rushed to. At the beginning of the four-month Nuimika uprising, the British suffered heavy defeats and had to give up Fort Bullen. The colonial administration in Sierra Leone and even the French in Gorée were called in to help. When reinforcements arrived, Fort Bullen was retaken and the Nuimika had to surrender.

Slavery was finally abolished in the British colonial empire in 1833. In the years between 1832 and 1838 a large number of freed slaves were brought to the Gambia and now settled in Bathurst and under Governor George Rendall in Georgetown. Their descendants today form the Aku ethnic group . Although Great Britain had officially stopped the slave trade, this did not affect trade in Gambia for the time being. Beeswax accounted for nine tenths of the Gambian exports, later the trade in skins and tropical woods , for example mahogany, increased . Peanut export began in 1830, and almost twenty years later peanuts accounted for two-thirds of Gambian exports. The peanut oil for soap production was bought on a large scale in Europe.

British Colony Gambia I.

The governor's house (now the State House ) built in 1824 on a 25 Dalasi banknote
Old house in Janjanbureh (Georgetown)
Old colonial house in Banjul (2005)
The Compagnie Française d'Afrique Occidentale Building near Albreda (2006)

From April 11, 1843, the Gambia colony was no longer ruled from Sierra Leone, but from Bathurst.

The pan-Islamic movement now also reached Senegal and Gambia from the Mediterranean coast, and here, too, led to religious fanaticism against non-Islamic communities. Brutal religious wars broke out between 1850 and 1887, the so-called Soninke-Marabout Wars . Here civil war-like conflicts took place between the natural religious Soninke , a subgroup of the Mandinka people, and the Muslims under the leadership of the marabouts , who also belong to the Mandinka. Marabouts were Islamic advisers, preachers or secretaries who had lived in almost every royal court in West Africa since the 15th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the area of ​​the upper reaches of the Gambia found itself in battles between rival kings. The imamates of the Fulbe states took advantage of this and invaded the states. Ma Bah , born in Baddibu in 1809 as the son of a marabout, became their leader. He took advantage of the conflicts between the British and the King of Baddibu and in 1861 proclaimed jihad , the holy war, against all Soninke. He also invaded Niumi, fanatical Muslims burned down one place after another. The revolt quickly spread to Barra and triggered a wave of refugees. Many of the fleeing Niumika sought protection from the British, who let them settle near Serekunda . Few states were spared from Bah. For example in the east, in Wuli, where the Soninke and Muslims continued to live in peace. After six years of tyranny, Bah was killed in an attack in the Sine Saloum area in 1867.

But other marabouts saw his successes in Baddibu and Niumi and rose against the Soninke. They received support from the French. From the Imamat Fouta Djallon, in today's Guinea, Musa Molloh invaded Tomani, Jimara and Eropina and founded the Fulani state Fulladu . Bah's time had a lasting political effect on Gambia. Soninke supremacy, an old Mandinka tradition, was broken. Bah's successors in the 1870s were Foday Sillah , a young gentleman from Gunjur, and the educated son of a chief, Foday Kabba Dumbaya, from Kiang. Kabba Dumbaya formed a confederation that exerted influence on Foni, Kiang, Jarra and Niami. They attacked the Diola living there on the south bank of the Gambia and killed many who had an animistic belief and consistently rejected Islam. Many Diola fled Foni to Kombo and settled there under the protection of the British in Bathurst. However, the revolt spread to Kombo and was now just outside Bathurst. All peace and mediation efforts initially failed. It only became more peaceful when the Bojang, the king of Kombo, surrendered and converted to Islam. Sillah was finally caught in Casamance in 1894 and died in Gorée, where he was deported. When two British agents were murdered in Sankandi in 1900 while attempting to mediate , the British fought back here. Sankandi was razed, Kabba Dumbaya was persecuted and killed. The Soninke-Marabout Wars were over and the British had acquired numerous territories through treaties with the Soninke, who sought protection from them.

British colony under Sierra Leone II

Main article: British West Africa

From February 19, 1866, Gambia was again subordinated to the Governor General of British West Africa in Sierra Leone. Fort Bullen was abandoned in 1870 and from 1875 France resumed negotiations to exchange the Gambia for other French territories in West Africa. Paris had already put this proposal on the negotiating table (1866–1870). In London, the renewed proposal was met with broad approval, not least because of the unpleasant Soninke-Marabout Wars. Resistance developed among British merchants and politicians in Gambia and the Gambians in Bathurst. France widened its offer to close its gap in the colony of Senegal and offered the French territories of Ivory Coast and Gabon up for grabs. From a rational point of view, the offer in London could not be refused, after which they had withdrawn part of the troops in the middle of the Soninke-Marabout Wars. But traders and settlers organized themselves and went into opposition, demanding compensation in the event of a handover to France. Liberated slaves, the liberated africans , refused to live under French law and demanded to be deported to other British colonies. The marabouts interrupted their jihad and, knowing that the French military would interfere in the fighting in a colony swap, spoke out against the swap. Suddenly all population groups in the Gambia Valley were peaceful and the Soninke-Marabout Wars were coming to an end. The British-French negotiations were broken off by the British in 1876. The Casamance, which was Portuguese from 1866, was ceded to France in 1886 and 1888.

British Colony Gambia II

British Gambia colonial flag 1888
Gambia Colony Postage Stamp (1922)
Gambia Colony Postage Stamp (1944)

When ownership was resolved in the 1870s, London began to show more interest in the colonies. The Gambia was separated from the colony of British West Africa on November 24, 1888, and became an independent colony, divided into the British crown colony Bathurst and, in 1894, a British protectorate . The protectorate gradually encompassed all areas of the interior of the country. In the British-French border negotiations on August 10, 1889, an agreement was reached on the course of the border. With the peace treaty with Musa Molloh von Fulladu, which was concluded in 1901, the last independent region was incorporated into the Gambia. The course of the border has not been changed since 1904. The British have thus enlarged their colonial area 60 times. The border followed the course of the river, and the land on the bank stretched as far as the range of a cannonball - ten miles.

The Gambia had now become a British enclave in French colonial territory. The British tried to introduce their social order into their protectorate, so in 1895 a vote was held among the local kings about the abolition of slave status. The slave trade had been abolished, but not the traditional African caste of house slaves. The protectorate was divided into five divisions and these were divided into several districts. This division has largely remained until today. Great Britain followed in the protectorate a policy that is known under the catchphrase indirect rule ( German  indirect rule ), that is, does not provide for any major interference in domestic politics. Control was solely with the local rulers. The main lines of this policy were laid down in 1843. The Crown Colony Bathurst, however, was directly subordinate to the Crown. In 1907 the West African pound was introduced in British West Africa and the Gambia colony . The British tried to keep the peace in Gambia without incurring great costs. The export of agricultural products, for example rubber, peanuts and cotton, was promoted.

Gambian troops fought in Cameroon and German East Africa during World War I and 38 of them lost their lives. In 1933, Deutsche Lufthansa set up an airfield in Serrekunda- Kanifing , which it used for six years for transatlantic flights to South America. For example, Heinkel He 111 machines were used to transport airmail to Brazil . During the Second World War , Gambian troops fought with the Allies in Burma . Bathurst served the United States Army Air Corps (now the United States Air Force ) as an airport for refueling and the Allied ships as a port. Fort Bullen was reactivated during the war and artillery was stationed there to protect against a possible attack by France, the colonial power of French West Africa . American President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Bathurst overnight in 1943 while passing through on the way to the Casablanca Conference . It was the first visit by an American president to office on the African continent.

After the war, the UK invested more in the colony's economic development. The infrastructure has been improved, roads have been paved, the water supply has been improved and a university has been set up. But there were also setbacks, so mining at Brufut was stopped again after a few years. A larger chicken farm near Yundum failed, as did a rice project. The failures kept other investors away, so the Gambia could not break away from the monoculture and remained dependent on peanut exports.

The British allowed the Africans to participate in government in the newly created House of Representatives in 1888. After the Second World War, the pace of constitutional reform increased. Since 1951 it was also allowed to elect representatives from the protectorate to parliament. Three African members in the House of Representatives were given ministerial status. Further constitutional improvements for internal self-administration followed. The first parties were founded, including the United Party (UP). The struggle for independence was driven by the largest ethnic group, the Mandinka. Dawda Jawara founded the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in 1959 , which he later developed into the leading force in Gambia as president. The universal suffrage was guaranteed in 1960, thus the active and passive right to vote for women was introduced. In the 1960 presidential election, when Gambian women were allowed to vote for the first time, Jawara was elected president. The following year the Protectorate was merged with the Crown Colony and, on the basis of a new constitution, the first general elections in British Gambia to win the PPP were held. A year later, the British commissioned the Fulbe Pierre Sarr N'Jie from the UP to form a commission with representatives of all parties to prepare the country for self-government. In the second general election in 1962 , the PPP won again and 38-year-old Jawara was appointed prime minister and Sarr N'Jie became opposition leader in parliament.

The Gambier received full internal self-government from the British on October 4, 1963, and for a transitional period the British Governor General was only responsible for internal security, foreign affairs and defense. The merger with Senegal, which gained independence from France in 1960, was discussed again. The United Nations also issued a recommendation in 1964 to unite the two countries. Probably the economic considerations of British trading companies and the Gambians themselves spoke against it.

With the Gambia Independence Act 1964 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom , sovereignty became final. The women's suffrage was confirmed at independence.

The independence of the Gambia

President Dawda Jawara on a 1 Dalasi banknote
Flag of the Gambia

On February 18, 1965, Gambia was accepted as a constitutional monarchy as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state . With the new constitution, the flag , coat of arms and national anthem were introduced, and the state has officially been called "The Gambia" since then , with great emphasis on the article in the name in English usage. At the head of the coalition government stood the Prime Minister Dawda Jawara, who was made Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1966 and thus raised to the nobility by the Queen. In the 1966 parliamentary elections , the PPP again emerged as the clear winner. On the initiative of Swedish investors, the first hotels were built on the Atlantic coast this year and the foundation stone for tourism , the second most important branch of the economy in the 1990s, was laid.

A government proposal envisaged breaking away from Great Britain entirely and transforming Gambia into a presidential republic with an elected president as head of state in place of the queen . A referendum carried out in 1965 narrowly failed because the two-thirds majority that would have been necessary for this constitutional amendment was not achieved. Nevertheless, Gambia gained respect with the vote, as it went well organizationally. A second referendum was held in Gambia in 1970.

Senegal's President Léopold Sédar Senghor visited the Gambia in 1967 and an association agreement was concluded with Senegal and a Gambian-Senegalese secretariat was set up.

The Republic of the Gambia

After the second referendum was successful, the Gambia was solemnly proclaimed a republic within the Commonwealth on April 24, 1970. The first President of the Republic was the previous Prime Minister Sir David Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and he was confirmed in office in the 1972 and 1977 general elections. In 1971 the new Gambian currency, the Dalasi , replaced the Gambian pound , which had only replaced the West African pound in 1968 . As a sign of turning away from colonialism , the capital Bathurst was renamed Banjul on April 24, 1973 in the course of Africanization .

The coup Kukoi Samba Sanyangs

The relative stability of the Jawara era experienced a deep turning point in the early 1980s. Up until this point in time, the Gambia was regarded as a “model country” with an exemplary democracy by African standards. Political prisoners were unknown, the press free and without reprisals. But the country fell into a deep economic crisis: caused by high inflation, the cost of living almost doubled in the years 1979–1980. The poor peanut harvest of 1981 did not improve the situation. Other domestic political problems, such as drastic tax increases, formed a breeding ground for radical forces.

Left-wing extremists and anarchist forces brought Gambia into crisis. In October 1980, the deputy commander of the police force at the time, Emmanuel ("Eku") Mahoney, was murdered by Mustapha Danso . Initially, they did without an expensive professional army, because the Gambian-Senegalese defense agreement of 1965 enabled Senegalese troops to provide assistance. The two parties that called for violence, the Gambian Socialist Revolutionary Party (GSRP) and the Movement for Justice in Africa-Gambia (MOJA-G), were banned and their leaders arrested. The GSRP previously ran two unsuccessful elections. Since Libya was obviously involved, Libyan diplomats were expelled from the country on October 30th. Jawara accused Libya, which at the time was trying to destabilize governments in many African countries, of having recruited 200 Gambians for a future guerrilla war .

A year later, when Jawara was in London for the July 29 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana , a bloody coup rocked the country on July 30, 1981 . The number of those killed was estimated at 500, according to unofficial information even up to 2000 people. The three ringleaders of the rebels came from the ranks of the banned parties GSRP and MOJA-G, they occupied the radio station and took hostages. At the head of the putschists was the 28-year-old Kukoi Samba Sanyang from the GSRP. With the help of low-ranking Gambian officers from the paramilitary field force , he made himself chairman of the twelve-man National Revolutionary Council , suspended the constitution and proclaimed the dictatorship of the proletariat , and at the same time declared President Jawara deposed. With the support of many citizens, they accused the Jawara government of corruption , tribalism and despotism . Jawara again asked Senegal for military support and with 3,000 Senegalese soldiers the rebel uprising was put down after five days. Jawara was back in office on August 5th and ordered a state of emergency for four years , Sanyang was rumored to be able to move to Guinea-Bissau with loads of stolen state and private property.

Confederation of Senegambia

Map from 1988

In the aftermath of the coup, the Gambia and Senegal signed a treaty on December 12, 1981, which provided for the unification of the armed forces, the currency and the economic area in the Confederation of Senegambia . The President of the Confederation was the Senegalese and the Vice-President the Gambian President. The parliament met alternately in Dakar and in Banjul, the official language became the Wolof , which is spoken in both countries.

In the presidential elections in Gambia in 1982 , Jawara was able to assert himself clearly against Sheriff Dibba from the opposition National Convention Party (NCP). The NCP was alleged to be involved in last year's coup. A separate Gambian army was set up in 1983. Rumors of another coup being prepared against the government increased in February 1988. In addition to Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who now lived in Libya, supporters of the Casamance separatist movement Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC) were involved in the conspiracy .

The Senegambia Confederation existed from February 1, 1982 to September 30, 1989, when the Gambia left the Confederation. According to another source, Senegal had terminated the confederation. The expectations set, especially with regard to economic cooperation, were not met. The additionally created bureaucracy made this federation of states cumbersome and incapable of acting. Differences became apparent in the prioritization of construction projects; Senegal wanted to improve the infrastructure by building a bridge over the Gambia. Jawara, on the other hand, saw the need to build a dam.

In order to gain international political standing, Jawara acted in 1989 as a peace broker in the Mauritanian-Senegalese border war (1989-1991). In Liberia , the Gambia is also involved in an ECOWAS peacekeeping force led by the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) . The Gambian-Senegalese relationship was improved again in 1991 through a bilateral agreement. When the Gambian soldiers returned from the Liberian civil war , there were violent protests over outstanding frontline allowances. The army commander resigned because of the protests and a Nigerian was appointed as his successor. A bilateral defense agreement was signed with Nigeria in early 1992.

Yahya Jammeh's coup

Yahya Jammeh (2003)

Jawara was re-elected in the Gambia presidential election in 1992 . In the course of the reorganization of the cabinet , the powers of the president were restricted. There were more and more voices of the opposition criticizing the lavish privileges of the members of the government. Even the Roman Catholic bishop of the Banjul diocese joined this criticism. Jawara then set up an independent commission in January 1994 to investigate allegations of corruption in public life. Immediately after his return from a state visit to Great Britain, Jawara was ousted by a bloodless military coup . Until then, with 34 years of service, he was the longest-serving African head of state.

On July 22, 1994, soldiers returning from service in Nigeria again demanded their frontline allowances. They were disarmed at the airport by their Nigerian officers, who were ready to receive Jawaras. In Banjul, protests by the soldiers followed, they occupied the telecommunications center, the airport and other strategically important points. The 29-year-old Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh, head of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), dismissed Jawara and the rebels brought all political activities to a standstill. With a number of government officials, Jawara was able to leave the country for Senegal on board a US Navy ship that was at the time in the port of Banjul. He later went into (self-imposed) exile in Great Britain. Jammeh declared himself president of the republic in a radio address, suspended the constitution and banned all political parties. He convened a government made up of military and civilian representatives. The new military regime promised to take up the fight against corruption and, after reorganization, to pave the way for new elections.

On October 24, 1994, Jammeh announced that he would like to keep the state of emergency until 1998. This prompted a joint protest from abroad. The United States , Great Britain and the European Union froze their financial aid to Gambia. When high-ranking officers attempted a counter-coup on November 11, in which several soldiers were killed, the Gambia was declared an unsafe country. The western foreign countries evacuated almost all tourists from the country. A number of opposition politicians were arrested in January 1995 and the death penalty was reinstated (not yet applied) in August.

Due to international pressure - perhaps in order not to endanger tourism, on which Gambia is economically heavily dependent - democratic elections were announced as early as 1996. Jammeh set up a provisional independent electoral commission to organize national elections.

The Second Republic of the Gambia

The Ruins of James Island (2004)
President George W. Bush meets with leaders of West African countries, including Jammeh (2003)

The presidential elections in Gambia took place on September 26, 1996, after the constitutional referendum had been voted on in August and the ban on political parties had been dropped. The AFPRC excluded the former parties that were friendly to Jawara from this election. Jammeh, who had previously resigned from the army, had successfully participated in the presidential election with his newly formed Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC). Opposition leader and main rival Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP) expressed criticism of the election results. On November 6, 1996, Jammeh was sworn in as President. And on January 2, 1997 parliamentary elections took place in Gambia , in which the APRC won 26 of the 45 seats in parliament.

The Gambia succeeded in stepping out of international isolation when it was allowed to take a seat on the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member from 1998 to 1999 . And from 1999 the Gambia mediated in the Casamance conflict and in the Guinea-Bissau civil war .

In fact, the years from 1996 to 2000 were marked by a certain stability and economic boom: Banjul International Airport and numerous roads were modernized, a new hospital ( AFPRC General Hospital ), a television station and a huge revolutionary monument (Arch 22) were built. In addition to new schools, the University of Gambia was founded and tourism became a good source of income again.

On January 15, 2000, the government reported that officers of the Presidential Guard had failed to attempt a coup with a dead person. On April 5, the ten soldiers involved were charged with high treason.

International observers such as Amnesty International (ai), however, see a deterioration in human rights since the takeover : Journalists, human rights defenders and opposition supporters have been arbitrarily arrested and mistreated by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). On April 10 and 11, 2000, at least 14 people, including a Red Cross employee who worked as a journalist, were killed and at least 28 others injured in a street battle between student demonstrators and the police. Organized protests targeted the mysterious death of a student allegedly tortured to death by firefighters in March, and protested over the alleged rapes of a 13-year-old woman by a police officer in March. Of the more than 100 students arrested, most were released the next day. Schools were temporarily closed, and patrols dominated the cityscape at night.

The second presidential election took place on October 18, 2001, and President Jammeh was re-elected for another five years. The following year, elections were held for the National Assembly and local governments, with the APRC winning. The opposition party UDP boycotted the elections, however, because Darboe organized the electoral system of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and, in their view, the electoral system was unfair.

One of the greatest maritime disasters of the post-war period occurred off the Gambian coast in September 2002 . The Senegalese ferry Le Joola , at that time the only ferry between Ziguinchor (Casamance region) and Dakar, sank in a storm, killing over 1,800 people.

In October 2003, strangers set fire to the offices of The Independent newspaper . The radio station Citizen FM had already been subjected to an arson attack, and both institutions have been the target of reprisals on several occasions. On December 16, 2004, the government-critical journalist Deyda Hydara was murdered. He had previously denounced the new media law, according to which journalists can be sentenced to at least six months' imprisonment for writing a “defamatory article” (for example: defamation, publishing inflammatory articles). Four days after the crime, hundreds of journalists protested against Hydara's murder and for the preservation of the freedom of the press.

Five opposition parties had formed a coalition in January 2005 as the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) and wanted to take on Jammeh together. They agreed on a common manifesto for the 2006 presidential election and the 2007 general election , but split after failing to agree on a common presidential candidate.

In August 2005 there were interstate tensions: Senegalese truckers blocked the border crossings on the Trans-Gambia Highway and were more willing to take the long way on the much poorer roads all around the Gambia than to pay the increase in ferry prices. Even a reduction in price in early October did not completely end the conflict. In the course of the conflict, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade threatened , with alleged support from the People's Republic of China , to build a 35-kilometer tunnel under the Gambia. Jammeh and Wade met for the first time since the conflict on October 21, 2005 and were able to reach an agreement on the price and how to proceed. The bridge building project was once again placed in the foreground.

When Jammeh was on a brief state visit to Mauritania on March 21, 2006, an attempted coup failed and several people were arrested in this connection, including Parliament speaker Sheriff Dibba, who was released a few days later, and high-ranking NIA officials. The UN Convention against Torture was signed by the Gambia on June 8th, but the United States canceled Gambia development aid because of the tutelage of the press.

On October 2, 2013, the Gambian government declared membership of the Commonwealth to be terminated with immediate effect. Like the human rights organization Amnesty International , Great Britain recently reprimanded the human rights situation in Gambia. The government in the capital Banjul announced that the West African country would “never want to be a member of a neo-colonial institution” or an institution “that stands for the continuation of colonialism”.

In the presidential election on December 1, 2016, the challenger Adama Barrow surprisingly triumphed against the long-time incumbent Yahya Jammeh . After Jammeh had initially admitted his defeat, he retracted this statement a week later and announced that he wanted to hold new elections because of alleged irregularities in the election. As long as he wants to stay in office. The international community ( African Union , United Nations, United States) condemned this behavior and called on Jammeh to resign. From mid-December 2016, the neighboring country Senegal as well as Nigeria and other countries of the West African economic community Ecowas tried in negotiations to convince Yahya Jammeh to hand over power to Adam Barrow in an orderly manner. These negotiations were unsuccessful and Ecowas then threatened military intervention. Jammeh called this a "declaration of war". After his regular presidency ended, Senegalese troops marched into Gambia on January 19, 2017 to force the transfer of power. On January 20, Army Chief Ousman Badjie refused to fight the Ecowas forces and recognized Barrow as president. Jammeh agreed to resign and go into exile. The next day Jammeh left the country on a plane bound for Guinea . On January 26th, Barrow returned from exile in Senegal, ending the crisis.

In July 2021, the country was hit by a storm disaster .

Epilogue - culture of remembrance

The enigmatic stone circles of Wassu

In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added "James Island and Related Sites" to the list of world cultural heritage for the Gambian culture of remembrance . It includes the island of James Island with the ruins of Fort James , which had changed hands at least ten times in history, the "Six-Gun Battery" in Banjul , Fort Bullen in Barra , the "Ruins of San Domingo" , "Remains of Portuguese Chapel ” , “ Compagnie Française d'Afrique Occidentale Building ” and the Maurel Frères Building near Albreda . The sites are estimated to be visited by up to 15,000 people annually. Including tourists , locals and African American US citizens who want to learn more about their roots and the African diaspora .

The Wassu stone circles , the African “ Stonehenge ”, were registered as a World Heritage Site in July 2006. An obelisk, the Mungo Park Memorial near Karantaba Tenda, commemorates the beginning of the journey from Mungo Park.

See also


Many facts, as in the old kingdoms, have only been passed on by oral tradition and supplemented by a few notes from travelers. The sources of the battle for the island of James Island are superficial and contradictory in detail. The Barra War is not mentioned in most of the sources and the Soninke Marabout Wars are only poorly reproduced or not reproduced at all. In the case of the Soninke-Marabout Wars in particular, the sources are contradictory in detail. Problems also arise with the spelling of places and personal names. Places that were drawn on maps three hundred years ago have changed their names or have become meaningless - they can hardly be found in modern literature and street maps. Due to the strong dominance of the British in Gambian history, the records are also heavily focused on the British point of view, which is particularly strong at the time of the "British-French rivalry".


General story

  • Thomas Baur: Senegal, Gambia: Discover, experience and enjoy Senegambia and the Bijagos Archipelago with this practical holiday guide. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2002, ISBN 3-8317-1112-7
  • Hartmut Buchholz: Senegal, Gambia. DuMont, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-7701-4189-X .
  • Jojo Cobbinah : Senegal / Gambia. Meyer travel guide, 2002, ISBN 3-89859-103-4 .
  • Werner Forman: Black Kingdoms: The Cultural Heritage of West Africa. Atlantis-Verlag, Luzern / Herrsching 1988, ISBN 3-7611-0715-3 .
  • Ilona Horn: Gambia. Small vacation paradise in West Africa. Horn Ilona Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-932084-19-5 .
  • Rosel Jahn: Gambia: travel guide with regional studies; with a travel atlas . Mai, Dreieich 1997, ISBN 3-87936-239-4 .
  • Colin McEvedy: The Penguin atlas of African history. Penguin Books, London 1995, ISBN 0-14-051321-3 .
  • Travel companion, The Gambia. FTI Touristik Publications, Munich 1999
  • Michel Renaudeau: The Gambia =: La Gambie. Delroisse, 1978, ISBN 2-85518-036-8
  • Donald R. Wright: The world and a very small place in Africa: a history of globalization in Niumi, the Gambia . ME Sharpe, Armonk NY 2004, ISBN 0-7656-1007-8 .

Primary sources

  • John Lang: The Land of the Golde Trade . TC & EC Jack of London, 1908
  • Mungo Park: Travels in the Interior of Africa. Vol 1, (e-book at gutenberg.org ) and Travels in the Interior of Africa - Vol 2 (e-book at gutenberg.org ). Cassell & Company edition by David Price, 1893 - corresponds to the report on the first trip in an abridged version
  • Anonymous: Life and Travels of Mungo Park in Central Africa. London 1838, e-book at gutenberg.org - contains not only explanations about the life of Mungo Park but also the full report of his first trip, Travels in the Interior of Africa.
  • Mungo Park: The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa in the Year 1805, with an Account of the Life of Mr. Park (by John Wishaw) , London 1815, e-book under gutenberg.org - describes the 2nd trip together with the report of the leaders Isaaco and Amadi Fatoumas


The journeys of Mungo Park, worked up in the form of a novel.
The fate of 17-year-old Kunta Kinte , who was abducted as a slave to the then British colony of Maryland in 1767 .

Film and television adaptations

Web links

Commons : History of the Gambia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


Early days

The old empires

Pre-colonial period

The British colony

The independence of the Gambia

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Jojo Cobbinah, ISBN 3-89859-103-4 .
  2. a b c Werner Forman, ISBN 3-7611-0715-3 .
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Ilona Hupe, ISBN 3-932084-19-5 .
  4. a b c AREION: Republic of Gambia: Chronicle ( Memento from May 14, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  5. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Rosel Jahn, ISBN 3-87936-239-4 .
  6. a b c d Hartmut Buchholz, ISBN 3-7701-4189-X .
  7. a b c travel companion, The Gambia , FTI Touristik Publications, Munich 1999.
  8. ^ Western Sudan. metmuseum.org
  9. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Gambia Historical ( Memento of July 11, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) and Senegal Historical, ( Memento of July 11, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) vdiest.nl
  10. ^ Mariama Kanteh: Gambia - General . ( Memento from February 6, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ^ Mariama Kanteh: Gambia - history . ( Memento from February 6, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  12. Africa's 'greatest explorer.' Joan Baxter BBC News December 13, 2000. - The theory was first developed in the 1920s and has been rejected by the scientific community as an Afrocentric myth.
  13. ^ Chronological list of Portuguese possessions in West Africa ( Memento of October 6, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Marco Ramerini
  14. The Atlas of the Gambia (English) by Dr. Malanding S. Jaiteh
  15. a b History of Senegal Austro-Senegalese Society
  16. a b c d The Gambia - Chronology. worldstatesmen.org
  17. Travelpoort Gambia
  18. Gambia . [colony] . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 11 : Franciscans - Gibson . London 1910, p. 437 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).
  19. ^ Armin M. Brandt: Courland's colonies . In: A story with a kick . Issue 7. Sailer Verlag, 1999, ISSN  0173-539X , p. 21 .
  20. a b c d e Michel Renaudeau, ISBN 2-85518-036-8 .
  21. a b The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO: James Island and Related Sites (Gambia)
  22. ^ The Gambia - People and History US State Department
  23. Ivon Mupende: What perspective Africa in the 21st century, Africa remains a disaster continent? ( Memento of February 16, 2006 in the Internet Archive ; PDF)
  24. a b c Timeline: Gambia zum.de
  25. June Hannam, Mitzi Auchterlonie, Katherine Holden: International Encyclopedia of Women's Suffrage. ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford 2000, ISBN 1-57607-064-6 , p. 9.
  26. Caroline Daley, Melanie Nolan (Eds.): Suffrage and Beyond. International Feminist Perspectives. New York University Press New York 1994, p. 351.
  27. ^ Mart Martin: The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 141.
  28. ↑ Collective of authors: Great Atlas of all African countries: Volume 2 , Lekturama Verlag, London 1986.
  29. Mauritanian-Senegalese Border War 1989–1991 onwar.com
  30. Mitikishe Maxwell Khobe: The Evolution and Conduct of ECOMOG Operations in West Africa ( Memento from April 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  31. ^ President Jammeh welcomes back the Former President Jawara . ( Memento of February 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) statehouse.gm, June 24, 2002.
  32. ^ German Foreign Office, Gambia's Foreign Policy
  33. Network Africa Germany e. V .: Gambia: Events and Developments ( Memento of January 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  34. Amnesty International Excessive use of force by the security forces April 12, 2000.
  35. Attempted coup averted, government says IRIN March 22, 2006.
  36. ^ US suspends Gambia from key development fund Sue Pleming, Reuters June 16, 2006.
  37. Gambia leaves the Commonwealth. (No longer available online.) Tagesschau.de , October 3, 2013, archived from the original on October 4, 2013 ; Retrieved October 3, 2013 .
  38. Ultimatum to rulers Jammeh: Senegal and Nigeria are preparing to invade Gambia. In: Spiegel online - Politics. Retrieved January 20, 2017 .
  39. Gambia crisis: Senegal troops enter to back new president. BBC News, January 19, 2017, accessed January 19, 2017 .
  40. Gambia's Jammeh agrees to go into exile as regional troops mass. reuters.com, January 20, 2017, accessed January 27, 2020 .
  41. ^ New Gambian president Adama Barrow returns home to joyous scenes. theguardian.com, January 26, 2017, accessed January 27, 2020 .