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Aku People in Gambia
   
Ethnic Groups  
 

The Aku speaking peoples of The Gambia represent less than 2% of the population & their language is a hybrid of Creole and the English language. Akus hold prominent positions in society as prominent public administrators, engineers, journalists, teachers, pastors & private business people. They are predominantly of the Christian faith.

History:
The Aku's origins are from the descendants of former recaptured  freed slaves, (these were people who were rescued from intercepted ships attempting to take them from West Africa to the Americas after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807), who were repatriated back to the West coast of Africa in the 19th century. Their origins date back to the late eighteenth century when 400 impoverished Africans were sent to Sierra Leone from London. They were followed by ex-soldiers who had fought for the British in the American War of Independence and were promised freedom if they fought on the side of the British. By 1850 the Akus were spread across West Africa in small communities from Gambia to Bioko Island off the West African coast.

In the 1830s the British began a large scale transfer of some recaptured former slaves from Sierra Leone to Bathurst (now Banjul) and up-river to Georgetown (Janjangbureh) in the Central River Division of The Gambia. The community excelled compared to the indigenous communities as they had the advantage of being better English speakers and the British saw them as a way to spread Christianity and European values.

Many were engaged in the fields of teaching, the clergy, clerical work, skilled building workers and labourers. Some distinguished Akus emerged such as Thomas Rafell and Thomas Joiner who were both wealthy businessmen. However, the most prominent of them all was Edward Francis Small who was at the leading edge of politics from the 1920s when he called for independence and self-rule and is regarded as the father of modern Gambian politics. The Aku community themselves were active proponents of nationalism throughout the sub-region.




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