Home Finance This is Gambia

This is Gambia

by Business News Report

It was a hectic morning as journalist were asked to converge at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed airport. It was like a huge joke. Many reporters I thought would not make given the chaotic traffic situation in Lagos. At 5 am the taxi I asked to pick me from Satellite town was at my gate and having dressed up we took off. By 5 50 am I was at the airport. Lo and behold several of them were there. Before 6.30 am every person met to make the journey was at the airport. At 7 am it was time to board the Arik Airline on its West Coast bound trip.
We were on our way to the smiling coast of Africa I heard. Where in Africa is the smiling coast many journalist on board the plane asked. Can a coast smile? These Nigerians have started one said. Let us wait till we get there, we will see what makes a coast to smile. We all laughed. At 8 am we were airborne. about 30 minutes later there was a terse statement from the cockpit, ladies and gentlemen welcome to Arik Air, we are cruising at an altitude of 28, 000 feet above see level if you look to your right you will see Lome, we are just over head Togo. Suddenly passengers on board became curious looking out to see the scenario then the routine food service on air.
A little later there was some turbulence, the plane was shaking and several passengers were holding on to their seat, the plane was flying over the ocean. You could see from the window the waters of the Atlantic and the raging tidal water below. Two and a half hours later the fasten your seat belt sign was turned on and the pilot said we have started our decent to free town and transit passengers should please remain seated while passenger disembarking from free town get off the plane.
Few minutes later from the air you could see houses most of which from a distance were normal houses, northing extra ordinary, but in between the houses were trees signifying a planned city. The airport is not particularly fantastic as should be expected of an international air port. It looked like one of Nigeria local airport.
Some even described the run way as looking Ilorin airport. It was not busy and one could notice only a single plane on the tarmac unlike Lagos where the domestic aviation industry is thriving with flights leaving Lagos often to other part of the country. Several men and women got off the plane and several others joined on the trip to the smiling coast of Africa. Again we were airborne without any ceremony. Exactly an hour later we were on ground at an airport which run way was much better.

At the immigration desk they were quite polite and much humane assisting in forms filling and charting cheerfully perhaps a feel of what to expect of the smiling coast of Africa. After the airport documentation, we boarded a bus.
The road from the airport to the Hotel not any busy as would be expected. The vehicle was particularly slow. Can’t this driver move for goodness sake was the question many from Lagos used to fast and chaotic driving were asking, then we all notice that all the vehicles were moving at slow speed as if not in a hurry to get to their destination.
The taxis plying the roads were Mercedes Benz brand of cars. Along the roads were large expanse of land unused. The houses were not too modern nor old fashion. Finally we got to our destination, our Hotel, Ocean Bay Hotel and Restaurant Africa village Bakau. Here we are to stay for days on a course sponsored by GTbank for Financial and Brand reporters.

Every year, thousands of international visitors come to The Gambia, drawn by its beaches, birds, sunshine, and the country’s biggest asset: the Gambian people, whose hospitality and friendliness have made it “The Smiling Coast.” Tourism has become the fastest-growing sector of the economy, contributing 12 per cent of the country’s GDP and providing employment for over 100,000 Gambians. More and more visitors are returning year after year.
The Gambia’s history is marked by almost as much cultural diversity as its current population. The first “tourists” were Portuguese traders in the 1500s who introduced peanuts and cotton before leaving a hundred years later, selling their trading rights to the British. Fort James, established by the British, soon had a rival fort at Albreda, built by the French. During the 17th and 18th centuries, these forts were the scenes of periodic battles between the countries striving for control of regional trade.
Britain gained all rights to trade in 1783, and administered the territory from Sierra Leone until 1888, when The Gambia became a crown colony, completely surrounded by French Senegal except for a small section of coastline. In the 1960s, federation with Senegal was considered, but finally in 1965 The Gambia became an independent country with Dawda Kairaba Jawara as first president.
He retained power until the beginning of the Second Republic in 1994 under current-President Yahya Jammeh. The Gambia is 180 miles long, but only 21 miles wide, and follows the course of the River Gambia as it meanders west through mangrove swamps, bamboo forests, and salt flats, to the capital city Banjul, which is located along the 30-mile stretch of Atlantic coast.
The Gambia lies at the southern edge of the Sahel and is made up of mostly savannah and open woodland vegetation. The Gambia’s population density of 92 people per square kilometres makes it the fourth most densely populated country in Africa. Eight different ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Mandinkas, traditionally farmers, the Fulani, traditionally herders, and the Wollof, mainly traders, live peacefully together in The Gambia.
Though each group speaks its own language, English is commonly spoken and is the official language of the country .Not only is there no ethnic strife in The Gambia but there is increasing cultural interaction and intermarriage, making the country a West African melting pot. The population is predominantly Muslim with more than 90% following Islam.
The Gambia has a strong musical tradition, often associated with weddings, feast-days such as the end of Ramadan, or Christmas. Traditional instruments include the kora (lute ), bala (xylophone ), and the tama (hand-held drum). Though the majority of the population is Muslim, Christmas brings a celebration with large lanterns called fanals, often in the shape of boats or houses and intricately decorated. The fanals are paraded through the streets to singing and chanting.
Once there, the Gambia Public Transport Corporation offers an extensive, low-cost public transit system with bus service linking all towns in the country. Taxis are readily available, and car rental agencies offer unlimited mileage.

Related Posts