Measuring things in The Gambia

When it comes to measuring certain things, in The Gambia, different rules apply. Standard measurement units are not usually used when it comes to shopping for certain amounts of goods at the market or telling the distance. But the most outstanding measurement unit in The Gambia is the one for the time.

The tins or cups

Gambians will always find a way; this is one thing Gambians are known for. If the price of measuring equipment is higher than a salesperson’s income, a local measuring alternative is used. Many shops in The Gambia have unique ways of measuring things, especially when measuring the foodstuff.

On the markets, a lot of things is measured with cups. While four cups should measure about 1 kg, in The Gambia, the standard of the sizes is defined by the type of the can and which food it used to store. Gambians reuse the tins of canned food which are already emptied and therefore not needed anymore, using them as measuring equipment in shops and homes. Different sizes of tins are equivalent to a certain amount of measurement. Cans like milk tin, tomato tin, beans tin or any cylindrical shaped tin are used for these measurements.
The 2.2kg tomato can is known as a big cup. The 400g tin is known as the middle-sized cup; some even call it ½ kg cup, and 166g tin of milk is a small cup or a quarter kilo cup. The prices of these measurements vary according to the food sold. Some of the food that is measured with these cups are grains, vegetables, flour and fruits.

Liquids are also measured with tins or cups. A certain aluminium cup of different sizes is made to measure oil in The Gambia. These cups can only be bought at the police stations, with their use being later supervised to ensure no one cheats the measurement. For other liquids, such as milk, sellers cut cups of different sizes to sell it for different prices.

Direction and distance in the country without addresses

When asking somebody how far is a certain place you will almost never get an answer in kilometres or miles. You will get a response similar to “it’s not too far”, or “it’s a little bit far”, or “it’s very far”. But this cannot really tell how far the place actually is because distance can be a very relative thing. Some of the people are commuting only from the market to their house, which can be less than a kilometre away, some are used to driving up to Basse or in Senegal every week, and they have different imagination about “not too far”, “a little bit far” or “very far”.

Another challenge is finding a particular place since there are no streets and house numbers in The Gambia. Even certain main roads don’t have names, so you can orientate by bigger or better-known shops, police stations, mosques, or even big trees when it comes to telling directions. There are specific points known by everyone, also serving as a stopping point for public transport. Some of those are Turntable, Traffic Light, Dippa Garage, Serrekunda and so on. 

Gambian Maybe Time

The time. It must be the biggest reason for misunderstandings between Gambians and non-Gambians. Here, it is customary to invite people to the event at 5 pm, and no one will show up until 7 pm, even the host of the event itself. Even the opening hours can sometimes be misleading since early hours favour no one in The Gambia. Evening parties and concerts that are supposed to start at 8 or 9 pm don’t feature the main artist until 3 am. So it seems like everything comes with a delay, which can be stressful sometimes, but on the other hand, it is good to experience a life where time is not commanding every step of the day.
Are you planning to visit The Gambia?

We live in The Gambia and we are happy to help you to plan your holidays. By choosing us, your time, your most valuable asset will be fulfilled with creative suggestions about where to go and what to do. You will know you are making the right choice because we are spending a lot of time on the road ourselves; scouting out new places, deepening relationships with locals involved, and finding places to eat, enjoy and stay.

Your questions and requests will be considered individually by one of our experts. You will receive special benefits that you can’t get on your own or are not available on automatic booking systems. We will provide you with a wide range of information about activities you can choose to make your stay more vivid. You will have the assistance of a person, which will be there for you, will provide information to the details and use all the knowledge to make your trip memorable.

Get everything set for your vacation and travel without worries.


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