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North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
West Africa: ° Benin ° Cameroon ° Congo ° Cote d'Ivoire ° Gabon ° (Republic of the) Gambia ° Ghana ° Guinea ° Liberia ° Mauritania ° Mozambique ° Nigeria ° Sao Tome and Principe ° Senegal (Dakar) ° Sierra Leone
East Africa (The Horn of Africa): ° Djibouti ° Kenya ° Eritrea ° Madagascar ° Somalia ° Sudan ° Tanzania ° Zanzibar

Republic of the Gambia

The Gambia. The Gambia is a strip of land 15 to 30 miles (25 to 50 kilometers) wide and 295 miles long on either bank of the Gambia River; except for a short coastline, it is surrounded by Senegal. Its unusual shape and size are attributable to territorial compromises arising from 19th-century Anglo-French rivalry in western Africa. The Gambia is one of the longest rivers in the world.

Stone Circles of Senegambia

The site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km wide along some 350 km of the River Gambia. The four groups, Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerbatch, cover 93 stone circles and numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated to reveal material that suggest dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. Together the stone circles of laterite pillars and their associated burial mounds present a vast sacred landscape created over more than 1,500 years. It reflects a prosperous, highly organized and lasting society.

Kunta Kinteh Island

The Gambia.

Kunta Kinteh Island is a small island in the Gambia River which joins the Atlantic Ocean. Its location in the middle of the river made it a strategic place to control the waterway. Visited by explorers and merchants in their search for a sea route to India it became one of the first cultural exchange zones between Africa and Europe.

By 1456 the Island had been acquired by Portugal from local rulers and the construction of a fort began.

Historical Dictionary of The Gambia. David Perfect.

Kunta Kinteh Island and related sites form an exceptional testimony to the different facets and phases of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The River Gambia was particularly important forming the first trade route to the inland of Africa. The site was already a contact point with Arabs and Phoenicians before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century. The region forms a cultural landscape, where the historic elements are retained in their cultural and natural context. The properties illustrate all the main periods and facets of the various stages of the African-European encounter from its earliest moments in the 15th Century through the independence period.

The specific location of Kunta Kinteh Island at the mouth of the Gambia River, is a tangible reminder of the story of the development of the Gambia River as one of the most important waterways for trade of all kinds from the interior to the Coast and beyond.


December 17, 1874, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences.


A Song for Holidays.

The animals, as once in Eden, lived in peace.
The wolf dwell with the lamb, the bear and leopard with the ox.
With looks of love,
The tiger and the scaly crocodile
Together, met, at Gambia's palmy wave.
Perched on the eagle's wing, the bird of song, Singing, arose, and visited the sun;
And with the falcon sat the gentle lark.
The little child leaped from his mother's arms,
And stroked the crested snake, and roe led unhurt
Among his speckled waves, and wished him home;
And sauntering schoolboys, slow returning, played
At eve about the lions' den, and wove into his shaggy mane fantastic flowers,
To meet the husbandman, early abroad,

Hasted the deer, and waved its woody head;
Wove into his shaggy mane fantastic flowers,
To meet the husbandman, early abroad.
Hasted the deer, atd waved its woody head;
And round his dewy steap the hare, unscared,
Sported and toyed familiar with his dog.
The flocks and herds, o'er hill and valley spread,
Exulting, cropped the ever-budding herb,
The desert blossomed, and the barren rang.
Justice and mercy, hollneaa and love, Among the people walked; Messiah reigned;
And earth kept Jubilee a thousand years. —Pollok

November 13, 1890, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The St. James Gazette intimates that France is willing to surrender her Newfoundland fishery rights for one of the British West African colonies, possibly Gambia. This settlement, which is on the river Gambia, consists of the Island of St. Mary, British Combo, Albreda, the Ceded Mile and McCarthys Island. It contains an area of 69 square miles and a population of about 15,000. The Gambia River falls Into the Atlantic by a large estuary, measuring in some parts nearly twenty-seven miles across, but contracting to little more than two miles between Barrapoint and Bathursttown. It flows through a country of great fertility, and is navigable for boats 300 miles to the falls of Barraconda, and above the falls lor at least 160 miles further. In 1870 there was another proposal to transfer the colony to the French, but it led to nothing more than a voluminous diplomatic correspondence.

March 1, 1891, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Helpless Portuguese

A Serious Rebellion at the Settlement of Bissao.

LONDON, Feb. 28.— Dispatches from Bissao, a Portuguese settlement opposite the delta of Jeba River, tell of a serious rebellion. The Portuguese inhabitants are said to be in an utterly helpless condition.

Guinea, Bissagos, Bijagos.

Bissao or Bassao is an island and Portuguese settlement opposite the delta of Jeba River, or Geba River, of Senegambia, on the west coast of Equatorial Africa, which, at its mouth, is fifteen miles wide. Bissao was the stronghold of the Portuguese slave trade, and has a considerable trade in hides, rice, wax and Gambia produce. The island is one of the Bissagos or Bijug archipelagos, and constitutes a portion of what is known as Portuguese Senegambia, the French and English also claiming protectorates over portions of the territory. Gungunyana, son and successor of Umzila, the reigning chief, and claimed by the Portuguese as their vassal, has become disgusted with them and has agreed to accept the protection of the British South African Company. The natural inference is that the rebellion has arisen out of this fact.

March 22, 1891, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


The Cession of Gambia to France Suggested.

London, March 21st. — Sir John Pope Hennessy interviewed Gladstone yesterday before questioning the Government on the Newfoundland matter. Gladstone will on Monday invite Smith to give a reply to the request of the Newfoundland Legislature. Hennessy suggests that the cession of Gambia to France would induce France to abandon her Newfoundland claims.

February 26, 1894, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.


The Arab slave dealers and their hirelings, the renegade blacks, have defeated a large body of British warriors on the West Coast of Africa, and it is feared that they have surrounded and exterminated another body of troops, 250 in number, that went too far inland.

This is the fourth effective victory for the slavers within two months. Last year they twice defeated the British and their allies of the Congo Free State. It seems that while most hotly pursued last year these flinty hearted sons of the desert seized and carried into captivity 1,400 blacks, leaving dead on the way 600 others, and having burned thirty villages and butchered 1,100 old men and women and babes and feeble blacks.

At the Berlin Conference, February 22, 1885, an act was signed whereby all nations exercising any influence in the territory of the basin of the Congo were pledged to cooperation to suppress the slave trade, to stop seizure in and transit over such territory, and to use all means in their power to put an end to the traffic and punish offenders.

In 1889 England called a conference of the Powers to further consider means to suppress the traffic, and asked Belgium to take the initiative in convening the congress. November, 1889, the conference was held at Brussels, and all the great nations except France were represented, including the United States. It was then agreed that the best means to suppress the trade was to organize civil administration, introduce the teachings of justice and religion, encourage the building of roads, railroads and steamships, establish military posts and scouting parties, restrict the importation of firearms, punish slave hunting as a felony, as also the mutilation of male infants, the transportation of slaves and mercantile dealings in them, and to extradite persons charged with any of these crimes.

The nations agreed to give refuge to escaped slaves at any port or on any boat of theirs and to return them to their homes. They agreed also to establish military posts on the caravan routes, to intercept slave convoys and to examine caravans. So, too, they all agreed to work by sea and by land to suppress the trade in their own territory and along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and to search vessels to that end.

The United States, Russia, Portugal, Turkey, the Netherlands and Austria did not sign the Act, but subsequently accepted and ratified the Act, and it went into effect April 1, 1592, France at the last moment coming in and signing. There were very many other things agreed to by that Act, all looking to the same end, such as regulating the importation of liquor, gunpowder, establishment of maritime stations, etc.

In 1800 Cardinal Lavigerie's Anti-Slave Trade Congress met in Paris. Its result was indorsement of the action of the Brussels Conference, and the establishment of national committees to aid the good work. in 1592, when the United States ratified the Act, and authorized our Plenipotentiaries to sign it, there was added a memorandum on our part that our signature should never be construed as abandoning our declaration; that the United States would keep aloof from any participation in a European concert of a political nature regarding Africa.

This is, in brief, the history of the most recent activity in the suppression of the slave trade, and it indicates a very early concerted movement that will revolutionize Africa in this respect. The trade is doomed, to a certainty, and the fierce Arab traders fully realize the truth in that regard. It accounts for their more than usual activity just now—they are making hay while the sun shines, rather while the slow machinery of international agreement is getting into working order. In the meantime England is doing what she and all others are bound to do by the terms of the Brussels conference, namely, acting with vigor and immediate energy in suppressing the slave trade in the territory in Africa over which she exercises exclusive jurisdiction, and in preventing the transit across such territory of slave caravans, or the making of bargains and sales of slaves any where in such territory.

Hence it is that we now have news of this sad disaster to the arm of England in the British West Coast African colony of Gambia. But that Chief Fodisilah, the notorious slave trader, will prevail in the end is out of the question. He and his blood-thirsty, stony-hearted fellows will as assuredly be driven out and whipped as the earth turns. The British can, under the Brussels Act, follow him over the entire continent, and call on all the signatory powers to join in the pursuit. That they will do so promptly must be assumed.

March 5, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


A Sharp Engagement in Which the British Were Victorious.

Governor of Gambia and King. 1851.

London, March 4.— A dispatch from Bathurst, the capital of the British colony of Gambia, says that a column of the West Indian regiment liascantured Dusamvalla, the stockade ol the native village near Bathurst, after a slight resistance. Later the natives returned and attacked the British and severe fighting followed. The natives were finally repulsed with a heavy loss. Nine soldiers were wounded.

August 16, 1896, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Tale of the Baby Hippotamus

The steamer Calabar, from West Africa, has brought into Liverpool a baby hippopotamus. The animal is abort three or four feet high and four or five feet long, and is only three months old. It is so tame that with evident relish it permits strangers to rub its nose. The capture of the hippopotamus was brought about in an ingenious manner.

It seems that it was born in the upper reaches of the Gambia River, West Africa. It is customary for the male to eat the young, and to prevent this the mother usually secretes her offspring. The present infant was placed by the mother in a hole dug on the banks of the river, being afterward covered by weeds and grass. This operation was watched by the natives of the village adjacent, and when the mother went to the opposite side of the river to feed they pounced on and secured their youthful prize. This was done by covering the baby with a net and securing it with ropes. They brought their capture with all possible speed to the village and sold it to a trader, who was a passenger in the Calabar. The animal is in good condition, though its hide bears traces of the ropes that bound it when first captured and when its coat was tender. Its quarters on the voyage were a large crate, and its chief food grass and vegetables.

The Fortunes of Africa.
The Fortunes of Africa: A 5000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and EndeavorAfrica: A 5,000 year history of wealth, greed, and endeavor. Martin Meredith, Author.
Africa has been coveted for its riches ever since the era of the Pharaohs. In past centuries, it was the lure of gold, ivory, and slaves that drew fortune-seekers, merchant-adventurers, and conquerors from afar. In modern times, the focus of attention is on oil, diamonds, and other valuable minerals. He traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires; the spread of Christianity and Islam; the enduring quest for gold and other riches; the exploits of explorers and missionaries; and the impact of European colonization.

The Diary of Antera Duke: An Eighteenth-Century African Slave TraderAn 18th Century African Slave Trader.
TheDiary of Antera Duke.Stephen D. Behrendt, A. J. H. Lathma, David Northrup
In his diary, Antera Duke (ca.1735-ca.1809) wrote an eyewitness account of the slave trade by an African merchant. A leader in late eighteenth-century Old Calabar, a cluster of Efik-speaking communities in the Cross River region, he resided in Duke Town, forty-five miles from the Atlantic Ocean in what is now southeast Nigeria. His diary, written in trade English from 1785 to 1788, is a candid account of daily life in an African community at the height of Calabar's overseas commerce. It provides valuable information on economic activity with other African businessmen and with European ship captains who arrived to trade for slaves, produce, and provisions.

Basil Davidson states that by examining three important areas of Africa in the history of slavery against a general background of their time and circumstance he was taking "a fresh look at the overseas slave trade, the steady year-by-year export of African labour to the West Indies and the Americas that marked the era of forced migration." (Africans were joined in forced camps by abused laborers from China, "indentured servants" from Ireland, and Britain's hideous prison hulks.)

The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black CargoWhite Ships, Black Cargo.
Tom Feelings
Alex Haley's Roots awakened many Americans to the cruelty of slavery. The Middle Passage focuses attention on the torturous journey which brought slaves from Africa to the Americas, allowing readers to bear witness to the sufferings of an entire people. 64 paintings.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of AmericaSlave Resistance and the Origins of the United States.
Gerald Home
The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then residing in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with London. Gerald Horne complements his earlier celebrated Negro Comrades of the Crown, by showing that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.

Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa.
James T. Campbell
Many works of history deal with the journeys of blacks in bondage from Africa to the United States along the middle passage, but there is also a rich history of African Americans traveling in the opposite direction. In Middle Passages, award-winning historian James T. Campbell recounts more than two centuries of African American journeys to Africa, including the experiences of such extraordinary figures as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. This series is under presiding editor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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