Teaching Students About the Gambia


Located on the western coast of Africa, The Gambia is a small yet fascinating country known for its diverse culture, rich history, and picturesque landscapes. Introducing students to The Gambia can spark their curiosity in African history and broaden their understanding of global cultures. This article explores various ways educators can teach students about The Gambia and engage them with hands-on activities and interactive lessons.

1. Start with the basics

Begin by providing your students with a general overview of The Gambia. Key points to touch on include the country’s location, demographics, geography, climate, political structure, and economy. Encourage students to explore maps of the region and identify its bordering countries: Senegal to the north, east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

2. Delve into the history of The Gambia

Introduce students to key historical events that have shaped The Gambia’s culture and society today. Touch on early inhabitants like the Jola, Mandinka, Wolof, and Fula people; European colonial encounters; slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade; attainment of independence in 1965; and its transition to democracy in 2016.

3. Explore cultural aspects

The Gambia is home to a plethora of tribes and ethnic groups who coexist harmoniously despite their cultural differences. Teach students about traditional Gambian music, instruments (e.g., kora, balafon), dance styles, cuisine (e.g., domoda, benachin), clothing (e.g., Kaftans, Grand Boubous), and languages such as Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Serer among others.

4. Bring The Gambia to life with art projects

Art projects are a fantastic way for students to express their creativity while learning about The Gambia’s visual arts such as wood carvings, pottery, textiles, and leatherwork. Students can explore the artwork of Njogu Touray, a Gambian artist known for his vibrant paintings, or try their hand at creating their own piece using traditional Gambian patterns and bright colors.

5. Learn about wildlife and the environment

The Gambia is home to breathtaking national parks and reserves that host a variety of flora and fauna. Teach students about Gambian wildlife such as baboons, African crocodiles, manatees, hippos, and hundreds of bird species. Discuss environmental conservation efforts to protect these natural treasures like the Abuko Nature Reserve or Kiang West National Park. Classroom activities can include creating posters featuring endangered species or organizing a fundraising campaign to support conservation organizations in The Gambia.

6. Encourage further exploration

To keep the momentum of learning about The Gambia alive beyond your lessons, encourage students to engage with literature related to Gambian history and culture. A few suggested books include: Mariama Ba’s “So Long a Letter”, “Roots” by Alex Haley, and “The Sun Will Soon Shine” by Sally Sadie Singhateh.


By exposing students to The Gambia’s rich history, colorful culture, and natural beauty through interactive lessons and creative activities, educators can ignite an interest in Africa’s diverse nations while fostering global understanding and cross-cultural empathy among young learners.

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