Ruins of Fort James, on Kunta Kinteh Island

Good day!

Yesterday we decided to take the day off work (well, we went in briefly just to confirm that they had nothing for us to do) and head to one of The Gambia’s most historical sites: Kunta Kinteh Island (or James Island). Fort James is situated on the island, and this is where slaves were held before being shipped to the Americas. It was quite an experience walking through the ruins of the old fort. The island was also in a strategic location to guard the upstream portion of the River Gambia. While the British controlled the island for most of the colonial period, there were also pirates and merchants who occupied the island at various times. The fort was also destroyed twice by the French and once by an accidental gunpowder explosion.

To get there we took a number of taxis, a ferry and a pirogue (a small wooden boat). Just as we were heading out to the island on our pirogue, we could see rain in the distance, and on the way back, the rain was literally right on our heels. As soon as we docked back on the shore, the rain started up and we were fortunately able to make it to cover. Afterwards we had lunch at the restaurant there, and then checked out the museum.

On Friday we went upcountry with Kebba to see some of the PIWAMP job sites. It was great to see some of the work firsthand and to spend some time in the provinces. We stayed the night in Soma at an agricultural training centre. Sleeping was a challenge for me though because of the heat and because someone in the adjacent room sounded like they were cutting down trees with a chainsaw… I decided to move outside where it was cooler and to put some distance between myself and the lumberjack, and despite bringing my bug net I ended up getting devoured by mosquitoes (they somehow always find a way to get in!). In the morning, we continued on our journey, stopping at more PIWAMP locations. We managed to get a good look at some more dikes and spillways, as well as bridges and causeways that SWMS builds to help farmers access fields and markets (otherwise getting there would be near impossible, check out the photos). We also checked out some bunds (which divert water to prevent erosion) and a sluice gate. The sluice gate is part of a salt flushing system that helps remove salt from lowland fields near the river that have been flooded by the saltwater portion of the River Gambia. After a couple of years the fields will be rehabilitated and ready for crop growth again.

That’s all for now! We are also planning to visit River Gambia National Park and hopefully Senegal as well over the next few weeks, so I’ll keep you posted about that.

Dan

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