Africa, Earth, Gambia, Western Africa

The Gambia

Gambia

A young Gambian lady graces the front of this banknote of Gambia.  Adjacent to her is an image of the giant kingfisher bird of Gambia.  The giant kingfisher, pictured at rest, and also in flight in a smaller image to the left, can be 18 inches long and resides throughout sub-Sahara Africa.

Gambia

A scene with cattle and herders, in a meadow with palm trees in the background, is on the back of our banknote.

The Gambia River with outline of The Gambia

Properly called The Gambia, (like The Bahamas), Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal, except for a brief Atlantic Ocean coast.  The land of The Gambia is completely dominated by the mighty Gambia River flowing due West into the Atlantic ocean from the mountains in the East.  The river is navigable for almost 1000 kilometers inland from the ocean and thus invited early explorers.  The Portuguese, the earliest known European explorers, traveling South from Portugal, first encountered and explored the somewhat parallel running Senegal River in the North.  A decade later, they rounded Cape Verde, the westernmost point of the African continent and encountered and began the exploration of the river Gambia.  A century or so later, the French and the British exploratory endeavors began to overshadow those of the Portuguese and Spanish, and the French settled the regions around the Senegal River and the British settled the Gambia River territory.

The island in at the mouth of the river, now known as Kunta Kinteh Island, has been designated as a world UNESCO heritage site.  The first European settlers arrived in the late 1500s from Holland, but in 1664 the island was ceded to the British.  Thereafter, if not before, it became integral to the African Slave Trade.  The island itself became well known through the influential Alex Haley broadcast Roots.  Kunte Kinteh is the name of a character described in Roots.

The date of our banknote not known exactly, but the features on the front and back were known to occur on 1996 and 2006 issues of the 5 dalasis banknote, and therefore likely all of the intervening years too..  The 2015 issue of the 5 dalasis banknote is pretty much the same on the front and back except that the image of the happy young lady is replaced with the image of the then president, Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh seized power in 1994 in a coup d’e’tat and ruled for 22 years until he fled the land in 2017 following an electoral defeat.  So the 2015 banknote image shows him near the conclusion of his reign.  Today his administration stands accused of perpetrating violence against the people including executions tortures and rapes.  A truth and reconciliation commission was established October 15, 2018 to further the healing of the nation.

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