28 June 2010



This post has been submitted by Yankuba SM Ceesay.

On 20th May in year two thousand and ten (20-05-2010) a number of students from IBC (International Business College) had a nation wide tour. This excursion is mainly aimed to meet one of their criteria in one of their modules - there are eight modules taken at IBC, as the lecturers together with the school administration have found it very much vital and essential for the tourism students to know their country well, especially their tourist attractive places and the cultural heritage sites as well their historical places from dates of colonialism until today. Interpretation of the above information is one of the main aims and objectives for conducting this trip in order to achieve a common goal of success.
Basically this is why every year a group of such students goes out for this nation wide tour. We set off from Banjul the capital city, where we took our first crossing to the north bank of the Gambia. From there we droved to Juffreh (Albreda) to the slave house at James Island and we took a wonderful boat trip to the Island, where we found it very interesting and educative about the ways the slave houses were built and also different parts of the slave house. And from the Island we also visited a church and according to the explanation we received it is the oldest church in the sub-African region, and from there we went to a museum too.
After visiting various places in Albreda we headed to Wassu and had a very short visit at the stone circles. It was interesting to see the different types of stones and what they represent, and we were told that some symbolise the graves and houses of ancient chiefs while others represent their worshiping places. This was a very short explanation and we then droved to Janjang Bureh where we spent our first night - we spent it at Armitage SSS which is my former school and I was acting like a tour guide for our team, because I was familiar with all those places including all the tourist attraction sites in Janjang Bureh and the places we visited included the old colonial cemetery, the slave house, the freedom tree and also the old governor's residence. From there we headed towards Bansang and then arrived at Basse, which is regarded as the second capital of the smiling coast of Africa (The Gambia) but it is very far from the capital city Banjul. To visit Basse was very much interesting as most of the students have never been to Basse before, and after the arrival we were directed to take a boat trip towards the Fulladu camp which is an Eco-lodge. Here the river is drinkable water and while on the boat to the camp some of our team members were drinking it and some were washing their faces. Some students along with their lecturer(Mr David Jassey) and me as well took some pictures of people taking shower while some are laundering their clothes and at the same time some are drinking the water – the students find these very much interesting and were very much pleased with the atmosphere at that time of the day . All the students were very much happy to see such a town like Basse with very lovely and friendly people with smiling faces and this part of Basse is something which tourists would not like to miss on their excursions to those parts of the country.
Then, from the Fulladu camp we had a visit to the former colonial masters (British) building of the market and from there to the new market built by the Gambians after gaining their independence from the British in 1965. The market is a place which tourists would like to visit to know the different types of products found in our local markets and they could not afford to miss the market place. While on the market visit we went to visit the immigration department and the police station which are essential to know in case of any emergency.
Furthermore, from the market visit we had a visit to the first Methodist church where the first President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara got married to his wife who is an Aku, and according to the interpreters the wife is a Christian any way at the church is where the marry bride was tight. From the church the student join their vehicle to go to another part of Basse known as Basse Mansajang. At Mansajang we visited a school called Saint George, where we were supposed to spend the night but this was cancelled. due to some miscommunication between our management and the school. We wish to thank Mr Arabatou Badjie who is the principal of the school, who has provided us with accommodation free of charge - he is some one that will always stick in our minds - thank you Mr Badjie for the kind help as we do appreciate so much and our prayers are for you always. And during the night I went with some members of our team went to visit my mum and she was very happy when she saw me and my friends including our lecturer. For me it was the place I enjoyed most in a sense that I met with my family members including those I miss for about 3 years who are my best friends.
The following day we departed from Basse to Tendaba camp via Jarreng, and this was the time when I dropped the PAGEANT letters to one of my friends to distribute them for me. And when we reached Jarreng it was surprising to see the road constructors have reached Jarreng, and that was the time we started experiencing good road. The road from Jarra Soma to Jarreng is now finished and the constructors are fast in their work and I believe before the end of the rainy season they will be very close to Basse.
After our arrival at Tendaba Camp we had a lunch and after the lunch each and every one of us contributed D100 to buy a goat, and during the night time we organised a small party and this was the first place where we had such kind of fun and entertainment and it was very enjoyable. We were not lucky enough to have a boat trip at Tendaba but we have had a long discussion with the camp manager in regard with eco-tourism management, and we really learned a lot from the manager and this will pave our way in improving our educational standard in eco-tourism management.
The second to last place we visited was Kanilai and this was an impromptu visit - it was during the time of the cultural festival in Kanilai and the places were so busy with different types of cultural groups from the different parts of the world who came to attend the festival and due to these occasion other places in Kanilai were restricted including the presidential palace and the animal zoo as well. But the cultural festival was very colourful with lots of entertainment and exhibitions and these last for one month.
Our last visit was to Tumani Tenda eco-tourism camp and this place is unique, differing from other eco-tourism camps we visited in terms of social responsibilities they render to their various communities – see the details below.
Tumani Tenda is a Jolla village with approximately 300 inhabitants living in seven extended families. It is situated 25km east of Brikama and 3km from Kafuta, on a tributary/bolong of the Gambia River. This small village derives its name from a peanut picker, called Tumani, who lived in the area and Tend, which is a Mandinka word meaning riverbank. The founder of the village is called Alhaji Osman, who is a quoranic scholar and he established it about 30 years ago after his immigration from southern Senegal, called Casamance. The community is a religious community and it embraces certain values, notably a sustainable attitude to the natural environment, a socially responsible style of living, respect for the elderly, independence, self-sustainability and a sense of community. The village owns 140 hectares of land, of which 89 are species rich forest that is continually upgraded with seedlings and serves as a pharmacy and natural water reservoir. Plants and other food crops are grown in abundance and include millet, maize, groundnuts, vegetables, herbs and spices, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, mangoes, lemons and many others.
The villagers used local materials to build the accommodation in a sensitive way that suits its environment, the round houses consist of comfortable rooms, decorated and furnished to give an authentic African atmosphere and each hut is designed and built by each of the families. And all the furniture is locally hand made with tie dye materials used as bed sheets, made by the village itself. All the rooms have mosquito nets and lighting facilities, with flush toilets and showers situated behind the accommodation in a separate building. All the waters are clean and fresh and drawn from one of the wells in the village.
The main meeting area consists of a beautifully built hut with a floor of shells and a big mahogany table where everybody sits around for eating and relaxing. And it also includes four hammocks for chilling from the mid day sun as well as a bar where you can request drinks and also where buffet style breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. The kitchen is located just next to the restaurant area in a separate hut and is where typical delicious dishes are prepared by the women of the village.
According to the explanation from the camp manager regarding ethics and the morals of the village, visitors visiting Tumani Tenda are required to respect the local culture and the following rules are adhered to.
In regard to the Islamic religion visitors are advised not to wear short skirts and short shorts and also swim-wear is not allowed to be worn around the public areas. In other to avoid the bad habit of children begging visitors are requested not to give children sweets, pens, and other gifts. All the gifts or donations should be passed to the village head, the alkalo, or camp manager to be distributed equally within the village.
And also cleaning the environment by avoiding littering on the ground in order to keep the village clean, visitors are encouraged to be respectful of the traditions and hospitality offered by Tumani Tenda and they should act like they are part of the community for the time they spend there.
All the money spent by the visitors at Tumani Tenda goes to the village development fund. And later on the money is used for the development of village facilities, infrastructure and families need within the village. The money derived from the camp is used for the payment of all the village taxes and taking care of any emergency and also buying medicines for the village inhabitants and the other part of the money is used for the payment of children’s school fees and other related issues like projects and the women’s garden too, and it is only village in the Gambia where school fees are free for all the children of the village. I believe this camp is unique from the other eco-tourism camps in the Gambia.
From there we finally drove back home.

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