Christmas in Gambia

The Gambia officially the Republic of the Gambia also commonly known as Gambia, is a country in West Africa. It is surrounded by Senegal, apart from a short strip of Atlantic coastline at its western end. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa.

Banjul is the Gambian capital, but the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.

Christmas in Gambia

Christmas Celebrations in Gambia :

With only 9 % of the population being Christians and 90 % being Muslims, Christmas is not one of the major celebrations in the Gambia, and unlike in many other countries, streets are not filled with colourful lights and decorations around Christmas time. However, this special Christian celebration brings together Christians and Muslims to share joyful moments and reinforce friendships, just like Muslim celebrations. This time of the year sees a proliferation of traditional local masquerades and rites as well as Christian celebrations.

Before Christmas Day, Christians start to prepare themselves. Some will buy clothes, some will plait their hair and some will make their house neat and tidy. On Christmas Day, Christians go to church and pray. From there, they go home and cook delicious food for their families and invite their friends for dinner. On this special day, they would also visit their relatives and friends. Children also visit their friends and invite them to their parties at night. Some Muslims also celebrate Christmas with their relatives, friends and neighbours.

The music, all the different types of masquerades and many other merry things taking place. Such masquerades are local traditions surfacing at various festive occasions, including Christmas Day. One of them, rooted in the traditions of the Sierra Leonean Aku tribe, is called “Hunting”: The person leading the group wears a mask with two horns. He is followed by children and adults who dance, play local drums, shake tamarind shells and ask people on the streets for money. In “Kumpo”, a masquerade rooted in the traditions of the Jola tribe, the leading person wears a costume which is – from head to toe – made out of leaves.

A distinct characteristic of the Xmas festival in the Kombos and Greater Banjul is the carnival of the Fanal parades of small paper & bamboo boats.

Other aspects of this time of the year will see the emergence of various dance groups & acrobats such as the Wolof’s Zimba lion dancers, Mamapara, Kanirang, the Jola’s Kumpo. Another distinct feature of this time is the appearance of the Mandinka Kankurang and the Aku’s parade of Gesse masks and Hunting.

Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!