Honoring The Gambia on Independence Day: ‘Roots’, The Gambian Revolution and CuisineFeb 18, 2021 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa
Today in 1965, The Gambia achieved independence from the British. This small West African country is most known for being the ancestral home of Kunta Kinte, whose life was depicted in the 1981 film, Roots. Today, we celebrate the country by highlighting its impact on Black history, culture, important events, and cuisine.
In 1976, African-American filmmaker Alex Haley released the novel ‘Roots: The Saga of an American Family’, which chronicles Haley’s family history of bondage and freedom-seeking during and after the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Through retelling the lineage of Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka man from The Gambia, Haley depicted both the horrific realities of enslaved Africans in America and White people’s creation of racism. By 1977, the novel was adapted to a TV miniseries that had an irrevocable impact on American culture. By the end of the weeklong television premiere, 88 million viewers had tuned in to the final episode of the saga. Jufureh, Gambia, the place where Kunta Kinte was born, is now an international tourist attraction in the country.
The Gambia River runs through the center of the country. The capital of the country is Banjul. The Diola, or “Jola people”, are the longest known tribe inhabitants of the region. The most dominant tribe in The Gambia is the Mandinka, followed by the Fulani, Wolof, Diola, and Soninke.
(Gambian women laughing)
The Gambian revolution occurred from 2016 to 2017, when Yahya Jammeh, a corrupt politician who had been the Gambian president for 22 years, refused to give up his seat to Adam Barrow, who won the December 2016 election. Citizen protests erupted across the country, and in 2017, Senegalese troops instructed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) removed Jammeh from power, and Barrow assumed the presidency.
(A mosque in The Gambia)
The country is predominately Muslim, and dishes commonly found in the country are Benachin (a rice, meat, and vegetable dish), Domoda (a peanut stew and rice dish), and Chicken Yassa, which is chicken and onions served with rice.
Thanks for reading, Have you watched Roots? What was the most memorable part for you? Comment below.