About Gambia: Historical Dates and Personalities

Historical Dates and Personalities:

  • 9th and 10th centuries AD: Arab traders established the trans-Saharan trade route for slaves, gold, and ivory in West Africa, including The Gambia.
  • 15th century: The Portuguese take over the trans-Saharan trade using maritime routes.
  • 1651-1661: Part of The Gambia becomes (indirectly) a colony of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Colanders settle on Kunta Kinteh Island.
  • 1783: The Treaty of Paris gives Great Britain possession of The Gambia, but the French retain a small enclave at Albreda on the north bank of the river until 1857.
  • 1807: Slave trading is abolished throughout the British Empire, but the British failed to end the slave trade in The Gambia.
  • 1861: The British established the military post of Bathurst, which becomes the capital city of Banjul.
  • 1888: The Gambia becomes a separate colonial entity, and a year later an agreement with France establishes the present boundaries.
  • World War II: Gambian troops fight with the Allies in Burma, and Banjul serves as an air hub for the U.S. Army Air Corps.
  • 18th February 1965: The Gambia achieves independence as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth.
  • 24th April 1970: The Gambia becomes a republic within the Commonwealth, with Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara as the first Prime Minister and head of state.

The Mali Empire was one of the largest and most powerful empires in West African history, spanning from the 13th to the 17th century. It was known for its wealth, trade, and Islamic scholarship, and had a significant influence on the culture and politics of the region. The Gambia was one of the territories that fell under the control of the Mali Empire.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, also known as the Commonwealth of Two Nations, was a state that existed from 1569 to 1795, encompassing the territories of modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. Although the Commonwealth was primarily located in Central Europe, it also had overseas territories, including some trading posts in West Africa. The Colanders were a Polish-Lithuanian family of merchants and traders who established a base on James Island (also known as Kunta Kinteh Island) in The Gambia in the mid-17th century.

The Treaty of Paris of 1783 marked the end of the American Revolutionary War and established the boundaries of the newly independent United States of America. As part of the treaty, Great Britain was granted possession of The Gambia, which had previously been under French control. However, the French were allowed to maintain a small enclave in Albreda on the north bank of the river until it was ceded to the British in 1857.

The transatlantic slave trade was a brutal and inhumane system of forced labor that operated between the 16th and 19th centuries, in which millions of Africans were forcibly taken from their homes and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, Europe, and other parts of the world. The West Africa region was a major source of slaves for the trade, with many being captured by African kingdoms and sold to European and American traders. The British Empire abolished the slave trade in 1807, but it continued to operate illegally for many years afterward.

Bathurst (now Banjul) was established as a military post by the British in 1861, as part of their efforts to end the slave trade in The Gambia. The city was named after Henry Bathurst, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time. During World War II, Gambian troops fought alongside the Allies in Burma, and Banjul served as an important air hub and port of call for Allied naval convoys.

The Gambia achieved independence from Great Britain on February 18, 1965, becoming a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara became the first Prime Minister and head of state. Five years later, on April 24, 1970, The Gambia became a republic within the Commonwealth.

Let’s say you’re a history teacher and you’re teaching a lesson on the history of The Gambia. You might use the information provided to give your students a brief overview of the major historical events that have shaped the country.

For example, you might start by explaining how Arab traders first established the trans-Saharan trade route in the 9th and 10th centuries AD, which eventually led to the Portuguese taking over this trade using maritime routes in the 15th century. You could then highlight the fact that The Gambia was once part of the Mali Empire, and that it was indirectly a colony of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between 1651 and 1661.

You could then discuss the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on the region, and explain how slaves were initially sent to Europe to work as servants until the market for more labor was expanded in the West Indies and North America in the 18th century. You could mention that slave trading was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807, but that the British struggled to end the slave trade in The Gambia.

Finally, you could discuss the country’s path to independence, highlighting how The Gambia achieved independence on February 18, 1965, as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, and became a republic within the Commonwealth on April 24, 1970, with Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara as the first Prime Minister and head of state.

As I mentioned earlier, The Gambia was initially part of the Mali Empire. The Mali Empire was one of the largest empires in West Africa, and it was known for its wealth and its powerful leaders. The Gambia was an important part of the empire because of its location along the River Gambia, which was a key trade route for gold, ivory, and slaves.

The Portuguese established trading posts along the West African coast in the 15th century as part of their efforts to expand their trade network and control the flow of goods such as gold and ivory. They saw the West African coast as a source of these valuable commodities and sought to establish a presence in the region to facilitate their trade.

In addition to gold and ivory, the Portuguese also became involved in the transatlantic slave trade, which was already established by Arab traders in the region. The slave trade involved the forced transportation of millions of people from Africa to the Americas to work as slaves on plantations and in other industries.

The Portuguese were not the only European powers involved in the West African trade during this period. Other European powers such as the Dutch, the British, and the French also established trading posts along the coast and competed with each other for control of the trade. This competition eventually led to the colonization of many parts of Africa by European powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the 17th century, The Gambia became part of the British Empire. The British established the military post of Bathurst (now known as Banjul) in 1816, and they used it as a base for their colonial administration. The British initially tried to end the slave trade in The Gambia, but they were unsuccessful.

To suppress the transatlantic slave trade, the British launched several naval campaigns against slave traders, and they also established anti-slavery treaties with other countries. In 1807, the British Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, which made it illegal to trade slaves within the British Empire. However, the British struggled to enforce this law in The Gambia due to the lack of resources and manpower. The British attempted to end the slave trade in The Gambia by stationing a naval squadron in the area and by establishing treaties with local rulers to prohibit trade. However, these efforts were only partly successful, and it was not until the 1850s that the slave trade was finally abolished in The Gambia.

One example of the British attempt to end the slave trade in The Gambia was the establishment of the West Africa Squadron, a naval force tasked with patrolling the West African coast to intercept slave ships. The squadron was established in 1808, and it was initially based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The squadron also had a presence in The Gambia, where it patrolled the River Gambia to intercept slave ships heading inland to purchase slaves from local traders. Despite their efforts, the British were not able to completely eradicate the slave trade in The Gambia until the mid-19th century, when they began to use military force to suppress the trade.

In 1888, The Gambia became a separate colonial entity, with its own administration. A year later, an agreement with France established the present-day boundaries of The Gambia. The Gambia became a British Crown Colony, divided for administrative purposes into the colony (which included the city of Banjul and the surrounding area) and the protectorate (which included the rest of the territory).

This means that The Gambia was no longer administered as part of a larger territory or colony, but instead had its own independent colonial administration. The agreement with France helped to establish clear and defined boundaries for The Gambia, which were recognized by both countries. The British Crown Colony system allowed for greater control over the territory and its resources, and the division into a colony and a protectorate helped to facilitate the administration of the region by the British. The colony, which included the city of Banjul, was likely seen as more economically and strategically important than the protectorate, which included the rest of the territory.

During World War II, the Gambia’s strategic location at the mouth of the River Gambia made it an important base for the Allies. The Gambia was a key location for Allied military operations in West Africa, and Banjul (then known as Bathurst) served as an important air and sea hub for supplies and troops. Gambian soldiers fought alongside British and other Allied troops in various campaigns, including the Burma Campaign in Southeast Asia.

In 1943, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Banjul during a trip to North Africa and Europe. His visit was significant as it marked the first time a sitting U.S. president had visited the African continent. Roosevelt stopped in Banjul twice during his trip, once on the way to the Casablanca Conference in Morocco and again on his return trip. His visit was seen as a symbol of the growing importance of Africa in global politics and of the strategic significance of the Gambia and West Africa in World War II.

The country’s first post-independence elections were held in 1966, and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), led by Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, won a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Jawara became the country’s first prime minister, and in 1970, The Gambia became a republic within the Commonwealth, with Jawara as its first president. Under Jawara’s leadership, The Gambia pursued a policy of non-alignment in international affairs, maintaining close ties with both Western and African nations. The country also made strides in education and health care, with the establishment of a national university and a system of primary health care clinics.fter The Gambia achieved independence in 1965, it continued to have close ties with the United Kingdom and remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.