Category: Africa

Democratic Republic of the Congo History of Exploration

Democratic Republic of the Congo History of Exploration

The general survey of the Congo course, carried out by the memorable expedition of H. Stanley in the years 1874-77, represents one of the last great achievements of African geography. Moreover, the existence of this mighty river had already been known for almost 4 centuries, although attempts made repeatedly to go up its course had always failed. The first notion of the mouth of this river is due to Diogo Cão (Diego Cam; v.), Who arrived there on his journey to the western coasts of Africa in 1482-83. To commemorate the event, a large pillar or “padrão” was erected, according to the custom of the time: hence the river called Rio Padrão. The cosmographer Martino Behaim, who was mistakenly believed to have been part of the expedition, would have given him the name of Rio Poderoso, corresponding to its real power. A century later (1578) the Portuguese Duarte Lopez arrived there on his journey to the coast of Angola, and described it as an immense river that the natives called “Zaire”, a name that Portuguese writers then kept for him also because, as Stanley observes, it was consecrated by the Camoēs.

According to SUNGLASSESTRACKER, the name of Zaire – again according to Stanley – would not be a proper name, but a corruption of the word “Nzara-Nzavi” which in the indigenous language means water. However, the name of Congo prevailed in common use in Europe, which was that of an indigenous realm existing on the left of the river and where, from the earliest times, Catholic missions were established that exercised a large influence there. The first widespread information on the towns crossed by the river in its lower section is due to the work of the missionaries who were employed there, especially Italians (GF Romano, Cavazzi, De Carli, Zucchelli, etc.). But the attempts made, as mentioned, to go up its course beyond the first stretch of a few tens of kilometers in which it remains navigable, were unsuccessful, both for the difficulties of navigation, as for the unhealthy climate and the hostility of the residents. No better success was reserved for the great expedition organized in 1816 with great breadth by the British Admiralty to solve the problem of the origin of the river which some thought might have some relationship with Niger, whose delta had not yet been recognized. The English expedition, placed under the command of Captain Giacomo Tuckey, and which included numerous specialists in the various branches of physical and natural sciences, embarked on the ship Congo and on 6 June it reached the mouth of the great river. However, it only managed to go up its course for 100 km., Since the fever that affected most of the crew and which cost the life of the commander and sixteen members of the expedition, forced them to desist from the enterprise. However, we owe it to the first regular topographical and hydrographic survey of the lower Congo.

Later attempts always had unfavorable results and the total reconnaissance of the river had then to proceed starting from its source region. The first trips made in it were those of Dr. David Livingstone (v.), Who in the years 1866-73, exploring the regions west of Tanganyika, recognized the course of the Chambezi, discovering the lakes Moero and Bangueolo, near whose banks he then left his life miserably on 1 May 1873 The intrepid missionary had thus revealed the sources of the Congo, while he believed he had discovered those of the Nile. The following year, Captain V. Lowett Cameron, sent to track down the indefatigable explorer and having learned the news of his end en route, continued his work by reconnaissance of the banks of Tanganyika and discovering his emissary Lukuga, whose course he could not follow but which, due to the information received, he believed he had to unload into the Lualaba and then turn westwards, contrary to the hypothesis that the Lualaba itself belonged to the Nile basin. Although the Cameron could not, as proposed, follow the course of the river from Nyangwe station to its mouth, in the journey he made across the river region between the Zambezi and the Cassai up to Bihé (Angola) he recognized most of the tributaries of left of the great river. It was then up to Stanley the fortune and the merit of putting the design into effect, managing, through difficulties of all kinds, to descend the Congo from Nyangwe (27 October 1876) to Boma (8 August 1877). The course of the river could thus for the first time be traced on the map of Africa.  Stanley’s enterprise led to the constitution of the “Committee of Studies for the Upper Congo” and to the formation of the “Independent State” which in 1908 became the great Belgian colony. Limiting ourselves here to mentioning the main events that led to the recognition of the river and its basin, we will recall the journey that in 1879, on behalf of the aforementioned committee, Stanley himself made going up the course of the main river up to the Stanley Falls and that of the its tributaries Coango and Fini; a journey that resulted in the discovery of Lake Leopoldo II; the company of ten. Wissmann who in his crossing of the African continent (1880-1882) from Loanda to Bagamoio extended the reconnaissance of the left tributaries of the Congo; the journey of dr. Wolf and von François, that they descended the Lulua up to the confluence of the Cassai and the Cassai itself up to the Congo; the fruitful explorations of A. Del Commune in the Lukenie and Sankuru basins (1888-89); the voyage of the Grenfell (1884-85), which went up the course of the Ubanghi; the new great journey of the Stanley, to rescue Emin Pasha, in which journey he recognized the course of the Aruwimi and reached Lake Albert, etc.

But now with the foundation of the “independent state” and with the ever greater work that Belgium will carry out there in order to open up to civilization this immense dominion, already known as we have seen, in its general lines, the methodology will be undertaken regular exploration and the itineraries, the astronomical determinations, the topographic surveys will multiply, which will contribute to giving us an increasingly complete cartographic representation, while the reconnaissance and studies concerning the physical geography and geology of the territory, its climatology, will also progress. ethnography, plant and animal life, etc.

Democratic Republic of the Congo History of Exploration

Resorts in Cape Verde

Resorts in Cape Verde


One of the most attractive islands in the archipelago, famous for its beautiful nature and comfortable climate. Mountains covered with eucalyptus groves and plantations of tropical plants, rocks and canyons make up the unique landscape of the island. The island is one of the greenest islands – tropical fruits are grown here – bananas, papayas, mangoes, dates, coconuts, etc. Here, surrounded by a eucalyptus forest, there is a unique botanical garden with the world’s largest baobab. Santiago is the largest and most populated island of Cape Verde. The capital of the island – the city of Praia – is a rapidly developing administrative center. Interesting as the old area with preserved buildings in the colonial style, and modern areas. It is worth visiting Cidade Velha (Old City) – the first capital of Cape Verde. The city grew out of the fortified settlement of Ribeira Grande, which is the basis of the culture of the islands. Of the main attractions of the island, it is also worth noting San Jorge dos Orgaos, Assomada with its picturesque fruit market, Shau Bom, where you can visit the old prison, which now houses the Museum of the Resistance, Bahia di Tarafal. Not far from the capital is the medieval Portuguese fortress of St. Philip – the first buildings of Europeans in Cape Verde. Ship cannons raised from the bottom of the ocean adorn the fortress walls.


A charming resort island of volcanic origin, which has become world famous as the birthplace of the great singer Cesaria Evora. The National Craft Center is open here – a place where the traditional textile craft was restored, as well as the manufacture of jewelry from shells and stones.

The capital is Mindelo; major cities: Baia das Gatas, São Pedro, Callao. The best beach is in San Pedro.


The third largest island of the archipelago, the island of beaches and dunes, which stretch here for 55 km. In addition, this is one of the best islands for diving and surfing. The first settlement here is the village of Povoacao Velha, which in Russian means “Old Village”.

The capital of the island is the town of Sal Rey, whose whole life develops only around the harbor. Recently, several first-class tourist complexes have been built on the island, so there should be no problems with accommodation here. The island is famous for its unique scenic views of deserts, oases, dunes and beaches. For example, the Viana desert, Santa Monica beach, the old Morro Negro lighthouse and the old ceramic factory. Recently, off-road and ATV safaris and desert motocross have become fashionable entertainment on the island.

Great beaches are Santa Monica, Curralinho, and further south Lacação and Curral Velho (which are a bit difficult to access).


The most popular island among travelers. Most often, tourists stop here, and go on excursions to other islands only for a short time (usually for a day or two). The active development of tourism has changed the face of the island almost beyond recognition: over the past decade, the number of local residents has doubled, first-class hotels have been opened here. Basically, the island is covered with sand dunes, only in the north there are outcrops of rocky rocks of an extinct volcano. Sal is very popular among surfers. There are 6 surf clubs on the island. One of the world’s largest windsurfing centers is located in the city of Santa Maria. For diving enthusiasts, there are 32 dive sites on the island: Ponta Do Farol reef up to 40.5 m deep, Tchuklasta reef – 36 m, Blue Room – 30.4 m, Palmeira caves – Pesqueiro Ti Culao – about 23 m, cave Buracona – 22.5 m.

Visa in Cape Verde

Citizens of the Russian Federation do not need a visa to visit Cape Verde for up to 60 days..

There is currently no Consulate of Cape Verde in Moscow.

The Embassy of Russia and the consular department in Cape Verde: Praia, PO Box 31, Achada de Santo Antonio (Priaia, Achada de Santo Antonio, S.R. 31), st. OUA, tel. (238) 61-27-38, 61-27-39 (around the clock), fax 62-27-38, telex 6016.

from January 1, 2019, Cape Verde introduced one of the highest airport security fees – 31 euros (in local currency – 3400 escudos). It is paid at the airport upon entry.

On April 30, 2019, an Agreement was signed between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Cape Verde on the mutual abolition of visa requirements (effective date – July 4, 2020), according to which citizens of Russia and Cape Verde who do not intend to work, study or reside in the territory of another state are exempted from visa requirements for entry, stay, exit or transit through the territory of another state. The duration of each such stay may not exceed 60 days. The total period of permitted stay of citizens of Russia and Cape Verde in the territory of another state is established in accordance with the laws and regulations of the state of each Party.

To obtain a residence permit, you must live in the country for at least 6 months.

In the case of a transplant in Portugal or another European country without entering the city, a Schengen visa is not required.

The validity of a foreign passport should expire no earlier than six months after entering the country.

Crossing the border is carried out only through border control points at airports and seaports of the country.

Resorts in Cape Verde

Lesotho Landmarks

Lesotho Landmarks

Ha-Khotso rock art

The Bushmen in southern Africa were not only successful hunters – they also felt the need to capture their everyday lives for eternity and to scratch paintings in rocks. The drawings not far from the village of Ha Khotso north of Roma in the Kingdom of Lesotho are among the oldest on our globe. The exact age of this San legacy has not yet been determined – but some experts assume that the drawings are several thousand years old. These rock carvings are a popular travel destination during Lesotho tours and can be reached on a day trip from the capital Maseru.

The San people – nomads in Africa

The people in Lesotho call this place Ha Boroana – which translates as “The little San”. In a rock face that slopes sharply, you will find numerous well-preserved and sometimes even artistic drawings from everyday hunting. They were a tribe of nomads who skillfully adapted to changes in nature and moved with the stream of prey. The San can still be found in the south of the Black Continent – especially in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia.

The drawings of a natural religion?

Many of the drawings that can be admired in Ha Khotso are astonishingly large – others are tiny. But they always show the San’s prey. These were especially antelopes and wildebeest. Scientists are still puzzling about what moved these ethnic primitive people to draw animals in many places. Some assume that they must have been animal gods – an indication that a kind of natural religion was already practiced by humans back then.

A footpath leads to the rock overhang

If you want to visit this remarkable rock individually, you should orientate yourself in the village of Nazareth according to the signs there. A footpath leads to a gorge and finally to the pictures on the rock. Not far from this site is the fortress of Thaba Bosiu, where only ruins and tombs remain of the former residence of the king.

Sehlabathebe National Park

untouched nature in the Maloti Mountains

Sehlabathebe National Park is a secluded park in Lesotho. It is located in the southeast corner of the small state on the border with South Africa in the Drakensberg. Together with the neighboring Drakensberg National Park, it forms a cross-border nature reserve. The highest peaks of the Drakensberg with an average of 2,400 meters are located in the Sehlabathebe National Park, where the Maloti Mountains are called.

Breathtaking natural landscapes

Sehlabathebe is Lesotho’s oldest national park, founded in 1969 by the country’s first prime minister and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its impressive landscape, the sparsely populated park is a popular destination for study travelers and photographers. It enchants with endless grass steppes overgrown with colorful wild flowers and bizarre sandstone formations with caves, deep gorges and spectacular rock overhangs. In more than 60 places there are impressive ancient rock paintings by the South African peoples of the San.

The region is characterized by numerous rivers, crystal clear mountain lakes, rushing waterfalls and rock pools. The most important attraction in the park is the Tsoelikane waterfall, whose rock pool invites you to take a refreshing dip when the temperature is right. The wetlands are home to rich flora and fauna. In addition to rare bearded vultures and numerous species of birds, roebuck, gazelle-like oribis, wild cats, jackals, baboons and mongooses can be seen there. Far away from civilization, flocks of sheep graze on the vast grasslands. The shepherds are wrapped in traditional colorful woolen blankets and wear a pointed straw hat.

Excursions and activities

The park, which is difficult to access, is best explored by tourists on foot, on horseback or in an off-road vehicle. In the unique secluded landscape, hikes, riding excursions and climbing tours lasting several days are offered by various agencies accompanied by local guides. Some hut camps and well-equipped lodges are available for overnight stays. There is also the possibility of pitching a tent everywhere. The climate in Lesotho is moderately warm due to the altitude. In the winter months from June to August there is partial frost in the high regions.

Libya study trips and round trips

Libya is the fourth largest country on the African continent – however, about 90% of the area is covered by deserts, so that life primarily takes place within the 2,000 km long coastal strip on the Mediterranean Sea and in the oases spread all over the country. Otherwise, the landscape forms a plain that begins at the Tunisian border and extends to the Jabal Akhdar region, the more hilly Libyan inland, dune landscapes and karst mountains. A geographical peculiarity of Libya is that it is one of the few countries on earth that does not have a permanent river. In view of this, you can expect either a warm Mediterranean climate, which is ideal for a beach holiday – or there is an extreme desert climate, in which the values ​​in summer are still around 26 ° C at night and in which there can be night frost in winter. Nevertheless, a tour through the Sahara is definitely recommended… preferably in the first few months of the year. Libya is also culturally interesting because the country looks back on a long history. The rock paintings in Acacus are probably the oldest evidence of civilization. Thousands of engravings adorn the rocky massif, which are estimated to date back to 12,000 BC. And were continued until the 1st century AD – which resulted in a unique writing of history that has long been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as the ruins of Leptis Magna and Sabratha from the Roman era. Libya offers you archaeological sites in the Mediterranean area of ​​outstanding quality.

Sehlabathebe National Park Lesotho

Suriname Overivew

Suriname Overivew


The vegetation is characterized by the equatorial forest, rich in precious essences (Lucuma mammosa, Lecythis ollaria, Copaifera bracteata, Bombax ceiba or Kapok etc.) and which covers almost the entire territory; a strip of mangroves borders the coast and, in the less humid areas, there are savannah areas. Over 90% of the country’s surface is still occupied by forest, inhabited by large mammals such as tapir, jaguar, monkeys, giant armadillo and wild pigs; among the reptiles there are the iguana, the caiman and among the amphibians an endemic species of dendrobat, the Dendrobates azureus, while very varied is the avifauna with eagles, cocks of the rocks, parrots, hummingbirds, ibises and herons. The major environmental problems of the country are linked to the pollution of the rivers due to toxic discharges from the mining industries and to the deforestation caused by the exploitation of timber for export. 13.2% of the territory is subject to protection by the authorities; the protected areas include the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 and which encompasses a vast primary ecosystem, the Brownsberg Nature Park, created in 1969 for the purpose of protection, research and education and various reserves natural. Visit baglib for Suriname as a tourist country.


Agriculture is practiced intensively on the small portion of the cultivated area (less than 1% of the national territory). In general, the primary sector contributes to the formation of GDP for 9.9% and employs 7% of the active population. Rice cultivation clearly prevails, which covers internal needs and allows for a certain export. The cultivation of oil palm follows in importance; the country is also self-sufficient for various other foodstuffs, such as sugar (considerable quantities of rum are obtained from the by-products of sugar), citrus fruits (especially oranges, grapefruits), bananas and coffee; a minor role are played by cocoa, coconut palm and peanuts. § As mentioned, Suriname is in practice an immense forest, very rich in precious essences that is not adequately exploited for commercial purposes due above all to the lack of communication routes and targeted investments. § Breeding is of little importance, as it lacks suitable climatic and environmental conditions; fairly numerous are only the poultry. § Fishing is of greater importance, which helps to integrate the food resources of the population and to increase exports (in particular to the USA); shellfish.


The ethnic mosaic at the base of today’s Surinamese society constitutes, even within the variegated Caribbean world, a peculiarity, whose features also dominate the cultural landscape of the country. In fact, in addition to the synthesis between indigenous (Amerindian) and European (mainly Dutch) elements, the contribution linked to the immigration of African and Oriental workers was considerable. Religion, language (Dutch is accompanied by several Creole dialects), cuisine, music (the typical genres of the Caribbean mix with jazz and the rhythms of Black Africa) and architecture (both civil and religious) they bring ample examples of such a melting pot of traditions. One of the most important folkloric moments is the Cultural parade in which all ethnic groups parade. In the capital there are mosques, synagogues, churches, and the beauty of Paramaribo is also recognized by UNESCO which has included the historic center among the world heritage sites (2002). Although many artists have preferred overseas, local art and crafts have kept their roots alive in engravings, sculptures and everyday artefacts. Literature has a group of local artists whose works range from prose to poetry to children’s literature.


Ethiopia Travel Warning

Ethiopia Travel Warning

At the beginning of January 2017, a hand grenade exploded in front of the Grand Hotel in Bahir Dar and a week later in the entrance area of the Etasal Hotel in Gondar. In the latter incident, one person died and others were injured.

According to youremailverifier, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency on October 8, 2016. This was preceded by mass demonstrations and sometimes violent protests against the Ethiopian government, mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions. It is currently not advisable to go on holiday to the Oromia and Amhara regions away from the main routes. Traveling on the main routes (Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Dire Dawa, Arba Minch) is currently possible without any problems.

Details of the state of emergency were announced on Ethiopian TV on October 15, 2016. In particular, all protest activities were prohibited.

Travelers are advised to register online in the German list of the embassy in Addis Ababa (ELEFAND) so that the embassy – if necessary – can contact you quickly in crises and other exceptional situations: External link, opens in a new windowhttp: //elefand.diplo. de

The sending of electronic messages (SMS), messages via social networks and e-mails may be temporarily restricted. In large parts of the country, the mobile Internet has been switched off for weeks. It is strongly recommended that you avoid any communication with critical and political statements.

Travelers should also always have several copies of their passport with them. Every landlord and car rental company must provide the authorities with data on their tenants and customers.

The protests are also expressed in roadblocks. In some cases, vehicles outside of Addis Ababa were pelted with stones, including deaths and injuries. Various companies, including foreign ones, were looted or set on fire, including in individual cases tourist accommodations (lodges). The internet and mobile network are interrupted regularly, sometimes for days.

Travelers are advised to stay away from the locations of the clashes, avoid crowds and, if necessary, go to protected areas. If a demonstration has been announced, the route or the whereabouts should be adjusted accordingly.

Country-specific safety information

Domestic situation

The imposition of the state of emergency on October 8th, 2016 has been preceded by protests since autumn 2015, which sparked, among other things, the “Urban Development Plan Addis Ababa”. Many Oromos fear further land grabbing in the event of insufficient compensation Aggravated again in 2016 and extended to the Amharen region. The cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar, which are popular with tourists, were also affected in July. Since then there have been repeated violent clashes between security forces and protesters, leaving numerous dead and injured.

Due to the state of emergency, the provincial administrations are deprived of their powers to maintain public safety and order and are centralized to the Ethiopian federal government. This enables them to react more quickly to future unrest. Details of the implementation of the state of emergency are not yet known.

Road blockades by demonstrators, especially in the immediate vicinity of the capital Addis Ababa, and the cordoning off of areas by the security forces, often restrict road traffic in the region. Countermeasures by the police during protest actions, such as evictions and mass arrests, can also endanger uninvolved persons. Anyone who tries to disregard the barriers must expect to be pelted with stones. Such incidents have already resulted in deaths and injuries.

There are frequent incidents in the outskirts of the country. In the Somali region (Ogaden) in the east, the Ethiopian military carries out armed operations against members of the ONLF (see also Traveling overland).

In the border area with Somalia, due to possible military actions against fighters of the Islamist terrorist organization al-Shabaab, larger troop movements can also be expected across borders.

In the Gambella region there was a tribal-politically motivated attack on villages near the city of Gambella from South Sudan in mid-April 2016, in which a large number of Ethiopians were killed and numerous children were kidnapped. Some of the children were returned in mid-May. Less than a week after the attack, employees of an aid organization were attacked and killed by refugees after a vehicle from this organization caused the deaths of two refugee girls in a traffic accident. In the meantime, the situation has calmed down due to the high presence of government troops and security forces. However, it is not advisable to travel to the region that is not necessary. The border area with South Sudan should be avoided.

When traveling in the South Omo Zone, especially away from the tourist routes, it is strongly recommended to inform yourself about the current security situation with the local authorities immediately before starting your journey. Due to an armed attack on a European tour group on November 7th, 2016, it is recommended that trips in the area north of the Omo National Park only be undertaken with professional tour operators accompanied by Ethiopian security forces. Individual travel in the region is not recommended.


As in other East African countries, activities by terrorist groups in Ethiopia cannot be ruled out. In view of Ethiopia’s military engagement in Somalia, this applies above all to the terrorist organization al-Shabaab there, which regularly threatens countries engaged in Somalia. The location of Addis Ababa, as the seat of the African Union (AU), also increases the attractiveness for possible terrorist attacks. The Ethiopian government warns against activities of al-Shabaab in Ethiopia.

In recent years there have been isolated (attempted) bomb attacks in Addis Ababa. It cannot be ruled out that Ethiopia will continue to be the target of attacks in the future.

Greater caution is therefore advised, especially around western facilities and tourist destinations. This also applies to larger hotels. Attention should be paid to suspicious persons and abandoned items of luggage such as bags, parcels or bundles of textiles. Caution is also advised when participating in major events. Your own behavior should be as inconspicuous as possible. Larger gatherings of people should be avoided.

Land travel / kidnapping / crime / road traffic

Since demonstrations and protests are often to be expected in the Oromo and Amhara regions as well as in the Amhara region, travelers should find out about the security situation on a daily basis.

For the use of the road connections Addis Ababa – Djibouti, Addis Ababa – Shashemene – Moyale, Addis Abeba – Harar, Addis Abebe – Asosa, Addis Ababa – Gambella, Addis Ababa – Debreguracha, Gondar – Metema, Gondar – Humera and Addis Ababa – Shashemene – Dolo separate regulations apply. These include a ban on carrying firearms, knives and objects for starting a fire.

In Addis Ababa there are more frequent pickpockets and occasionally robberies on passers-by. Pay extra attention, especially after dark.

The country’s infrastructure is weak, and there are only a limited number of well-developed roads for overland travel. In principle, long-distance journeys should not be made in the late afternoon, at dusk or in the dark for reasons of road safety.

Before traveling inland, precise inquiries about the security situation should be obtained in individual cases. Particularly in the border regions and away from regularly used roads, an increased risk from attacks and, furthermore, from land mines can be assumed. In addition, the possibilities to get help in traffic accidents are extremely limited. It is therefore generally advisable to use local guides and, if necessary, to coordinate the trip with the local authorities.

Border area with Eritrea

Attacks by bandits and local underground organizations as well as kidnappings cannot be ruled out when driving into the direct border area with Eritrea and the Danakil Depression in North Afar. In January 2012, an armed attack on a tour group took place on the edge of the Ertale volcano in the Danakil desert, in which two German nationals were killed and other German and other EU citizens were injured (kidnappings lasting several weeks).

Against this background, the Federal Foreign Office advises against traveling independently to the Danakil Desert and the northern Afar region without being accompanied by Ethiopian security forces.

Newly laid land mines must also be expected there. In the southeast of the border region with Eritrea, the area on the Bure-Assab road is affected. It is not advisable to take the Eli Dar road towards Assab. If journeys are absolutely necessary, the local authorities should be informed and appropriate.

Ethiopia Travel Warning

History of Gambia – from Senegambia to today

History of Gambia – from Senegambia to today

British West Africa

In 1765 Great Britain established its first colony in West Africa on the Senegal and Gambia rivers and named it Senegambia. It belonged to British West Africa. In 1779 the French recaptured their trading establishments in Senegal. They took James Island and destroyed the fort. It was the end of Senegambia. Great Britain only remained the Gambia Valley.

From 1809 to 1817 Senegal was once again under British ownership. In 1811 Great Britain banned the slave trade in its colonies (France followed in 1848). In 1816 the British built a base at Bathurst to combat the slave trade, which was still carried on by the Americans and the French. Today the capital Banjul is located there.

War between Soninke and Marabouts

Between 1850 and 1887, brutal wars took place between the Soninke, who practiced an animistic religion, and marabouts. Marabouts are religious leaders in Islam. They waged war against everyone who did not want to adopt Islam. Soninke supremacy in the area was broken. Members of the Diola on the south bank of the Gambia who rejected Islam were also killed.

The Gambia was temporarily under the administration in Sierra Leone (see there). France wanted to exchange the area for other (French) colonial land, for example from the Ivory Coast. Traders and settlers were against it, but so were the marabouts, who even ended their war. Britain eventually broke off negotiations.

British colony

In 1888 the Gambia became an independent British colony. A year later, Great Britain and France set the national borders as they still exist today. The border followed the course of the Gambia River and the land on the bank stretched as far as the range of a cannonball, namely ten miles.

Independence in 1965 and republic in 1970

After the Second World War, the colony gradually gained more independence. Parties were formed. In 1965 the Gambia was given independence. The country remained in the Commonwealth of Nations and was a monarchy headed by the British Queen. Dawda Jawara became prime minister.

A popular vote in 1970 decided that Gambia should become a republic. Jawara was elected its president and was re-elected in 1972 and 1977. Bathurst was renamed Banjul in 1973. The Gambia was seen as a “model country” with an exemplary democracy.

Senegambia (1982-1989)

An economic crisis led to a coup in 1981, which however was suppressed with the help of troops from Senegal. On February 1, 1982 the Gambia and Senegal merged under the name Senegambia (this is called a confederation). The armed forces, the currency and the economic area were united. But the cooperation turned out to be difficult, and the additional bureaucracy also made the merger difficult. In 1989 the confederation was ended again. Jawara remained President of Gambia and was re-elected in 1992.

1994 coup: Yahya Jammeh becomes president

In 1994, Jawara was ousted in a military coup. He and his government were accused of corruption. The coup was bloodless. Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh declared himself President of Gambia. The constitution was repealed, political parties banned, opponents arrested and the death penalty reintroduced.

In 1996, Jammeh finally allowed democratic elections again. A certain stability returned. Jammeh won the election. Tourism, interrupted by the coup, increased again. In 2001, Jammeh was confirmed in office. He extended his term of office and was accused of corruption and waste.

In 2011, Jammeh was re-elected in an election. Now he was accused of manipulating the election. The lack of freedom of the press and the violation of human rights continue to be criticized. Jammeh sees himself as a faith healer.

Adama Barrow becomes President of Gambia

Jammeh’s presidency ended in 2016. He lost the election and so Adama Barrow took over the office of Gambian President. Jammeh delayed the takeover, but ultimately couldn’t prevent it.

When a baby is born in Gambia, all those who belong to Islam celebrate the naming festival one week after the birth. The Mandinka call the ceremony Kulliyo, the Wolof Ngente. All relatives and friends are invited. It is celebrated in front of the house or in the family courtyard. The festival begins in the morning.

An imam (Muslim head) cuts off a lock of hair from the baby and then doses some water on his head. The imam speaks verses from the Koran. Then he whispers his name in the baby’s ear. Then the name is repeated aloud to everyone. That can also be done by a griot. Griots are called Jali in Gambia.

The name of the child was kept secret until then. The baby’s father chose and determined the name. Now the party will go on until the evening. Most families slaughter a cattle, sheep or chicken. Guests are also often offered kola nuts. You break the seeds into pieces, chew them and spit them out after about an hour.

Incidentally, the birthday is usually not celebrated in Gambia. It also happens that children whose birth has not been reported to the authorities do not even know on which day they were born. This is not only the case in Gambia, but in all of West Africa according to Countryaah.

Names in Gambia

And what are the names of the children in Gambia? Often the first names have a Muslim origin, then there are also traditional names or English names (such as John or Susan). Girls are often called Fatou or Fatoumata, Mariama, Isatou or Ami or Aminata. There is also the first name Fanta, which reminds us more of a lemonade, but the name has nothing to do with that.

The firstborn son is often called Lamin among the Mandinka people. This is the African modification of the Arabic name al-Amin, which means “conscientious” or “trustworthy”. When it comes to the girls’ names, Aminata is the counterpart. Other common boy names are Ebrima, Abdouli (or Abdoulaye, from the Arabic name Abdullah), Momodou (from Arabic Mohammed) or Ousman (Arabic Othman).

You can often tell from the surname which people someone belongs to. Mandinka, for example, are often called Jawara or Jobateh. Wolof are often called Mboge or Njie. Jallow, Ceesay, Bah, Camara, Jobe and Jammeh are also widespread in Gambia.

History of Gambia