BANJUL - THE SMALLES AFRICAN CAPITAL CITY
Half day trip
Banjul is the capital city of The Gambia and has only about 60,000 inhabitants, making it one of the smallest capitals in Africa. Still it is a very important administrative and economic center of the Gambia. The reason why Banjul is so small is because of its location, on a peninsula at the mouth of the Gambia River.
Our first stop is at Arch 22. This massive, 36m-high gateway, built to celebrate the military coup of 22 July 1994, grants excellent views of the whole city and its daily activities. There’s also a cafe and a small museum that enlightens visitors about the coup d’état and often houses good exhibitions.
The Gambia National Museum is a Gambian cultural museum located in Banjul. It is home to historical documents and displays concerning the History of the Gambia.
The Gambia National Museum opened in 1985, fifteen years after the Friends of the National Museum Association was established in 1970. The 1974 Monuments and Relics Act followed, which set into motion the plans for the National Museum. The museum’s primary goal is the collection and preservation of artifacts documenting the material culture of the Gambia, as well as to educate both visitors to the country and residents who may not be familiar with Gambian history.
At the Gambia National Museum, you can learn about the cultural heritage of the Gambia, like whothe Super Eagles were and what a masquerade is.
The museum houses three floors of exhibits. The ground floor displays the political and cultural history of the nation’s capital, Banjul. On the basement level, you can learn about the musical heritage of the Gambia and see what instruments are popular throughout the country and on the second floor, you can learn about the archaeological history of West Africa and the Gambia. The floor also details the nation’s colonial and post- Independence political and economic history. The museum has got a sound educational value. Gambian School children form the largest group of visitors, and the museum education program of art classes, quiz, history video shows etc. have become supplementary to civics and social studies classes. The museum is also the most important tourist attraction in the Greater Banjul Area. Of course, the museum embodies the countries cultural and historical identity with its photo archives detailing over 70 years of Gambian history.
Opening hours is 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday
We walk through Banjul, admiring its chaotic atmosphere together with governmental buildings, assembly of decrepit colonial buildings and Krio-style clapboard houses (steep-roofed structures with wrought-iron balconies and corrugated roofs).
Albert Market is in Banjul on Liberation Avenue and is the capital’s main urban market. It was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It is essentially an emporium that is pungent, lively and bustling with a large selection of vividly designed fabrics, carved wooden masks and fresh produce which is packed to the brim. All this is laid out within a labyrinth of alleys and hundreds of rickety stalls and purpose built shops. It is open from 8am to 7pm.
Give yourself a good couple of hours to wander around – long enough to take in all the sights, smells and sounds – and get your haggling skills up to scratch. There are several drinks stalls and chop shops in the market to pacify shopped-out bellies. It’s never calm here, but early in the morning or late in the afternoon are a bit less crowded.