Music venue building in Bakau

October issue

My first visit to Gambia was in 2003. I have a cousin who is half Gambian and she wanted to come and meet her relatives. She knew I’d been to Africa before and had loved it so she said why don’t you come with me? So it began… I loved it. The beautiful beaches, friendly people and fabulous weather. We kept coming back… Then one evening in 2007 in a bar in Bakau a rather tall interesting looking man asked me for a dance... The rest as they say is history. Sulay came to live in London and we married.

Although we enjoyed being in London our aim was always to come and live in The Gambia. In 2018 we bought the old Romana hotel in Bakau, very close to where we first met. We started our plans to move over here. Sulay came first and started the work on the front. We now have our café and bar up and running. I moved to The Gambia at the end of 2019.

Our further plans are to build a music venue, rooms and shops.

Being a musician, Sulay’s main project is the music venue. This is a work in progress. The building is built, the roof is on, the members bar upstairs is built, at present the ceilings are being put up. Bit by bit we’ve decided how the next bit should be. I’ve just ordered some fabulous pictures for one of the bars. It’s very exciting.

His aim has always been to get Gambian music firmly on the map. Many Senegalese artists come to The Gambia to learn their craft. To learn the afro manding rhythm so well known in The Gambia. There is a very rich history of music coming from The Gambia, from the late 60s to 70s with Ifang Bondi, Musa Ngom, Laba Sosseh and Vicky Blain. In the 70s Gambia was the night club capital of West Africa. Now it is the time for it to happen again. We’ve many very successful artists here in The Gambia doing very well on the international stage. They just need a platform here, which we intend to provide.

Our dream is to have artists come from all over the world to perform. For collaborations to happen with Gambian musicians. To produce new fusion sounds. To be a fun place where lovely people want to come and enjoy themselves.

Our venue will also be able to be hired for functions, conferences and weddings.

We will post more photos in a few months time to show you our progress. Next time I’ll tell you my dream about our shop (not built yet!) …

When you come to Gambia come and join us for lunch/dinner/drinks. Then come into the back to see our progress!

By Michèle

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