Educated in English, most Gambians are at least bilingual.
The people of The Gambia are friendly and hospitable and life is taken at a very relaxed pace. To accept this is essential, after all you will be on holiday. Whilst the various tribal languages are used by the Gambians to converse between themselves, the official language and language of instruction in most schools is English (The Gambia is a former British colony).
It is common to receive an invitation to a Gambian 'compound' and this will give you a remarkable insight into the local way of life. If you accept it is polite to take a small gift, for example a bag of rice or bars of soap for laundry. You may also be invited to try one of the local Gambian dishes such as Benachin (rice and vegetables) or Domoda, (meat, stewed in groundnut puree and served with rice).
There are many tribes but the main ones are Mandinka, Wolof, Fula and Jola, each having its own language and traditions. Dress is varied but always bright and colourful and some of the complicated plaited hairstyles are a work of art, often taking up to two days to complete.
Below are a few common phrases used in The Gambia:
|English ||Mandika ||Wolof |
|Thank you ||Abaraka ||Jerejef |
|Hello ||Asalamu Alikum ||A Salamu Alikum |
|How are you? ||Heraba / I be di? ||Na Nga Def? |
|Good Morning ||Hera Laata ||Jamangen Fanaan |
|Good Evening ||I Wuraara ||Jamangen Enddu |
|Goodbye ||Fo Waati Koteng ||Ci Jamma |
|Today ||Bee ||Tey |
|Tonight ||Bii Suutoo ||Ci Gudi Gii |
|How Much ||Jelu? ||Nyaatala? |
|What is your name? ||I Ton Ndii? ||Na Ka Nga Tudda? |