Gambia's music and dance traditions are strong
and practiced at both family holidays and holidays. The
most common instruments are the drums djembe and tama,
the string instrument chorus and the balafon, which
resembles a xylophone.
The music largely unites the different groups of
people, who otherwise have different cultural
traditions. The tradition of griots - singers, poets and
storytellers - lives on in many places (see Seder and
Latest population statistics of Gambia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
In the literature, Gambia is known as the home of
Kunta Kinte, a young man who was abducted and became a
slave in the United States in the American author Alex
Haley's award-winning novel Roots.
N'Denian Kebba Landing Sonko, who lives in Sweden,
has collected stories from the childhood in Gambia that
have been translated into Swedish.
After the change of power in 2017, conditions for
the media have improved, but there is still much to be
done when it comes to respect for freedom of the press
and opinion. Journalists are still at risk of being
arrested and beaten by police.
Under Yahya Jammeh's rule (1994–2017), advocacy laws
and prohibitions on publishing "fake news" imposed
severe restrictions on all critical scrutiny of power.
Media that nevertheless criticized could be exposed to
direct threats from government teams. Two journalists
were murdered during the 1990s, according to the CPJ
press freedom organization.
One internationally well-known case is the journalist
Ebrima Manneh, who "disappeared" in 2006 since the
security service removed him. Another well-known case is
the 2004 murder of regime critic Deyda Hydara, who was
the editor-in-chief of The Point newspaper,
correspondent of the French news agency AFP and chairman
of the Gambian journalist association. No one has been
charged with the murder, which many believe was
politically motivated. In 2009, six journalists were
sentenced to prison for having, in an open letter, urged
the government to admit their involvement in the murder.
They were pardoned a month later, following pressure
from, among others, the EU.
Self-censorship has diminished after Adama Barrow
took power in early 2017 and at least 30 of the roughly
100 journalists who had fled the country had returned to
Gambia until 2018. The Supreme Court has ruled in part
by the Prosecution Law, citing its contravention of the
Constitution, but the ban on the ban on publishing "fake
news" remained. In 2017, the authorities forced the
Daily Observer magazine to shut down for two weeks,
citing that the magazine had tax liabilities. In June
2018, Pa Modou Bojang, the head of a radio station, was
beaten when he reported on unrest in the village of
Faraba (see Calendar).
On Reporters Without Borders index of freedom of the
press in the world, Gambia in 2019 ranked 92 out of 180
countries, which was more than 30 rankings better than
Radio and TV are the most important sources of
information for most Gambians. The Government of Gambia
Radio and Television Services (GRTS) had a monopoly
until the turn of power 2017 to broadcast news, but it
has been abolished and now there are several privately
owned radio and TV channels.
FACTS - MASS MEDIA
Percentage of the population using the
20 percent (2017)
Number of mobile subscriptions per 100
Relations are severed with Iran
Gambia breaks relations with Iran after Nigeria reportedly seized a ship
loaded with Iranian weapons on its way to Gambia.
Intelligence men are arrested for involvement in coup plans
Eleven employees in the security and intelligence services are arrested,
suspected of being involved in the coup plans in 2009. Among those arrested is
the head of the security service NIA.
Human trafficking and rape can result in the death penalty
The legislation is being amended so that the death penalty can also be
punished for human trafficking, rape and gross robbery.
Death penalty for preparation for coup
Eight men are sentenced to death for planning a coup against President Jammeh
2009. Among those sentenced to death are Tamba, three high-ranking officers as
well as civil servants and businessmen (see October 2009 and
March 2010). The EU condemns the death sentences.
Prosecution for dismissed military commanders
The two dismissed military chiefs Tamba and Fofana are now also charged with
planning a coup in March 2006.
Cocaine seizures in piles
Gambian and British authorities in collaboration find 2.3 tonnes of cocaine
in a bunker four miles outside Banjul. The seizure is the largest made to date
in West Africa and is estimated to have a value of approximately one billion US
Opposition politicians are sentenced to prison
Femi Peters, spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party (UDP), is
sentenced to one year in prison and fined for organizing a political meeting
without permission. The EU, the US and the UK express concern about the verdict.
Militants are charged with treason
Ten military commanders and businessmen, including General Lang Tombong
Tamba, are charged with treason in connection with an alleged coup attempt in
the fall of 2009.
High police and military are arrested
Six high ranking military and police personnel are dismissed and detained.
Among them is Marine Chief Sarjo Fofana. Former Minister Antouman Saho was also