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Gambia Culture and Mass Media

Culture

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 Mill).

  • Countryaah: 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.

Mass Media

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.

Culture of GambiaUnder 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 203.

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 internet

20 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

140 (2018)

2010

November

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.

October

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.

July

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.

June

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 dollars.

April

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.

March

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 arrested.

 

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