A sense of community

Updated on Sep 13, 2016 by Rhiannon Lewis

Blog > A sense of community

Guest author, Rhiannon Lewis, reflects on things she learnt during 3 months living in The Gambia, working at Lemon Creek Hotel.

Community in The Gambia

The idea that life is a gift which should be treasured is a major belief in The Gambia. It sums up how the people live their lives as a loving community, ready to share with others even if they themselves have little. This community feeling can be found in many areas of traditional Gambian life, but during my time in the country, two different communities have stood out to me. These are life in a compound and life as a tourist taxi driver.

Compounds are areas of land where many houses will be built inside. Usually extended families live within these compounds but occasionally it may be people who are not related. There is a trust and love between these people, whether they are family or not. The children in the compounds can be found playing together, the women can be found looking after the children, cooking or cleaning and the men tend to play wuri and drink attaya, a traditional Gambian green tea.

The people will share what they have with others and help each other out. I cannot help but envy this community lifestyle which has been lost in many areas of Britain. I visited quite a few compounds in The Gambia and each one was as caring as the last. The people in these compounds offered me anything they had to give such as mangoes, bananas, attaya or food if they were cooking. They share with others because they believe in karma - if you treat someone well and help them, they will help you in return.

Gambian taxis

I have a number of friends who are tourist taxi drivers in The Gambia. These men can be found outside or near hotels waiting to get business. Sometimes it may seem these taxi drivers are bumsters if they have little business. In reality these drivers are a community, and they treat each other with the love, respect and trust brothers would have for each other. They are an extremely close-knit community due to spending almost every day together. They help each other out and share what they have. I had four bananas one day which would not be eaten, so I gave these to a taxi driver. Instead of eating them himself he shared them with the others, each receiving half a banana.

Sometimes these drivers have little, especially during the rainy season when business is slow and even non-existent at times, but they will share what they have with the others because the favour will be returned if they are struggling and need help.

This sense of community can be found throughout The Gambia and should be respected and honoured. There is a lot that can be learnt from the Gambians and how they live their lives. Throughout my time in the country I looked forward to learning from the people of The Gambia.


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