former village of Serrekunda
market town (also spelt Serekunda) is the Gambia's largest
town, and its name means the 'home of the Sayer family' (Sayer
Kunda), named after its 19th century founder, Sayerr
Jobe, a Wolof royal from Koki, Senegal. Serrekunda
has a population of about 390,000, and is 13km to the southwest
of the capital, Banjul. It is
actually made up of nine villages which have merged into an urban
sprawl, that incorporates the villages of Latrikunda, Dippa Kunda,
Bundung and London Corner, and effectively forms the Kanifing
LGA, in the Kombo St. Mary District. The urban settlement is about
3 kilometres inland from the coastal resorts
of Kololi and Kotu.
Town is not an obvious holiday resort destination for tourists
visiting The Gambia. Most visitors head out from Banjul
Airport and straight to the beach resorts,
and check-in to hotels in Kololi
/ Senegambia, Kotu, Bijilo,
Kerr Sering, Cape
Point and other Atlantic Ocean coastal lodges.
However, there are a few simple, basic types of
hotels in Serrekunda providing minimal amenities and some
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO
• Serrekunda Market
Gambia's commercial centre and heart of the town is said
to have been originally started by several women regularly setting
up their stalls by a dirt path selling a few fresh vegetables
and dried fish. As time went by other local food sellers joined
them and it subsequently grew into the bustling market it is today.
It has now effectively spread out to encompass nearly all the
nearby roads leading into the market area and many of their side
streets. Pavements merge into the road with pedestrians dominating
half the road on either side, letting vehicles through occasionally.
If you want to get a good feel of day-to-day, urban West
African cultural existence; a trip to the core of town
you a strong experience. At times the centre's major roads are
filled with bumper-to-bumper vehicles, spewing out diesel fumes,
taxis repeatedly blaring their horns,
loud music played from any number of ghetto blasters and radios,
and streets thronging with over-full colourful stands, wheelbarrow
boys pushing heavy goods for their clients, street hawkers and
traders' stores selling a jumble of cheap imports. Goods literally
spill out of their shop fronts in an organised or de-organised
Inside the market building is a labyrinth of workshops, trading
stalls and eateries which fills up the Serrekunda Market building.
Inside the main structure the stands are demarcated by small alleys.
This is the sort of jammed-to-the-hilt location where you can
find an endless stream of products, from bicycle repair kits and
flip-flops to flowery vases, ceramic trade beads, bed sheets and
pillows. There's also a large outdoor food selling area at the
where mostly women offer vegetables like hot chillies, tomatoes,
green peppers, salad as well ad dried and smoked bonga (shad),
fresh fish, smoked catfish from wooden stalls, mounds on the floor
or on decorated metal bowls. Adjacent stores sell all manner of
dried and packaged foods such as groundnut paste, rice, cooking
oil, herbs, spices, dried chillies, Maggie cubes and much more.
Note: It is illegal to export any article made from wild animal
skins, feathers or any other part of any protected creature from
The Gambia. Offenders will have the products confiscated and fines
may be imposed .
• Serrekunda Town
main artery leading southwest towards the market is the Sayerr
Jobe Avenue, which is jammed with local shops, ageing taxis,
handicraft sellers, street peddlers and wholesale merchants' stores,
from all over West Africa and several Arab countries. Walking
and shopping along Sayer Jobe Avenue
is usually enough for anybody. Close to the enclosed market at
the corner of Sayerr Jobe Avenue and Mosque Road, every metre
of road-side is often taken by traders and shoppers, and every
section of road is blocked with autos, barrows, cyclists, motorbikes and
even more pedestrians!
the immediate market vicinity, the busy commercial roads
offer up interesting perusing and shopping possibilities, with
a large variety of commodities on display. You'll pass photo
studios, barbers, fabrics shops selling tailoring ribbons,
bobbins, headscarves, textiles and lace, people selling any number
of unrecognisable dried leaves, twigs, bark and powders, plastic
utensils are everywhere, iron mongers' workshops, with rows of
strung aluminium ladles, incense burners, and neat stacks of large,
shiny, aluminium cooking pots on protruding legs and iron cooking
stoves. You can also find carpenters working from cramped workshops,
chiselling and carving ornate wooden beds, wardrobes and other
• Batik Factory
tie-dyed and batik fabrics, Serrekunda has a well
Factory", Ms. Musu Kebba Drammeh's workshop in Dippa
Kunda, off the Mosque Road. On the 10th March, 2003, Musu Kebba
passed away and the management of the workshop passed onto her
daughter. You are not usually allowed to observe craftspeople
at work here, but if you are lucky, you might see the tie
dye and batik making
process from the design, waxing and boiling, to the finished material.
Use the opportunity to get hold of some souvenirs.
There are lots of finished fabrics for sale, including clothing
and wall coverings, plus a stand selling wood carvings such as
masks and djembe drums.
is the national sport of the Senegambia
region. Wrestling contests usually
take place on Saturdays and Sundays in the local wrestling arenas
such as in the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium, or at the
National Stadium in Bakau.
Each wrestler has a group of djembe drummers who rhythmically,
and vigorously beat their drums and blow pea-whistles before each
bout. The winner of each bout is the one who gets his opponent
on the ground first. Kicking, punching, biting, and throwing sand
into an opponent's face are not against the rules, but is frowned
upon, and the referee or the offender's manager could step in
and stop the bout. Spectators would normally make their disapproval
clear by booing.
• Paper Recycling Skills Project
place worth visiting is the Paper Recycling Skills Project (PRSP)
in Fajikunda. You can buy various paper products; and any
profits generated goes back into the community. PRSP is located
a little further south of Serrekunda's centre, in the 'Craft
Village', in Fajikunda, near Latrikunda. It was founded in
2001 by May Rooney, an English artist, to create job opportunities
and training, support education projects and encourage a recycling
culture in The Gambia, the project produces attractive, handmade
paper, school exercise books and covers, cards, albums and lampshades
and more from discarded materials. Profit is used to buy school
equipment and other community items. In early 2012 the charity
launched a biomass recycling research and training centre at Fajikunda–Abuko.
It involves creating doughnut briquettes made from waste paper
and waste agricultural materials to be used as an alternative
fuel in cooking stoves. This was set up to support the local community
in enhancing their capacity to better preserve and protect the
(Tel no: 734 0504 / Email:
• Kairaba Avenue
known as the Pipeline Road, it links the genteel Fajara
residential section and Serrekunda. In the 1970s it was essentially
a rough dirt road coursing through fields and past a few built
homes. Today, the 1.86 mile length of Kairaba
Avenue is straddled by food stores, supermarkets,
banks, office blocks, restaurants,
stores etc., and attracts the steepest rents in The Gambia.
It joins the Banjul to Brikama highway at the busy Westfield
Towards the southern end of the avenue is a tall, modern building
of a mobile phone operator's head office, Latrikunda Upper Basic
School, many retail stores and next to the football playing field
is the area's main cultural centre, the
Alliance Franco-Gambienne (or Alliance Française). The French
Cultural Centre is focused on teaching French classes, cultural
activities such as theatre and live musical performances and French
and English film viewings. There is a library, a cafeteria
and a music recording studio which local talent can hire and record
their own music.
(Tel: +220 4374172)
• Mosque Road & Latrikunda
you go down Mosque Road from Latrikunda German from Kairaba Avenue,
you should be able to spot the 'Big Tree'; a revered and
genuinely huge silk cotton tree, just clipping the main road.
Most of this end of Mosque Road is often nicely shaded with trees
and an interesting place to wonder down. The commercial buzz becomes
increasingly hectic as you stroll south towards Dippa Kunda and
the main commercial district.
• Night Clubs
is an ideal place to get a sampling of local nightlife, and it's
home to The Gambia's well established Jokor
Nightclub. It is a fairly safe place for tourists to
visit as it is on the well lit Westfield Junction / Kombo Sillah
Drive, and has a moderate crowd with fairly decent guest facilities
such as toilets. There is also plenty of car parking space available
around the back, which is guarded. The revelling doesn't really
get going much before 12am; then goes on until 4am or later, when
club goers move on in search of a fast food meal, very often afra.
are not geared towards tourists, it has some good local eating
establishments, particularly near the market. A good place to
visit for some quick food and a break is Sen
Fast Food on Sayerr Jobe Avenue and near Westfield Junction
Seasons which is further west on Kairaba Avenue. There are
some local bars in town which get busy at night; many of these
occasionally see travellers, and you'll almost certainly be welcome.
Try to keep to the ones on the main street or not too far.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
Pickpockets are quite active in the crowded sections, so keep
your cash, jewellery and credit cards well tucked away in a money
belt or bum bag. In the evening this urban area might seem like
a menacing town to the inexperienced; and it makes no special
provisions for tourists' safety.
In reality, however, there's not much to be afraid of in terms
of crime, especially if you're with Gambian
friends. Avoid walking in unlit areas alone at night and always
carry a small torchlight. Do not use the light on your mobile
phone as it could get snatched and never walk alone after 12pm.
The police station
is only a stones throw from the busy market junction and normally
well lit at night. There is also a
get into the centre of Serrekunda from the Gambia's coastal resorts
like Kololi and Kotu
you take one of the yellow or green tourist taxis
and ask to be taken to the market. If you just say Serrekunda
you could end up being dropped quite a distance from the centre
as it is now an urban agglomeration, taking in several villages
in the process. If you want to shop and enjoy a stroll while making
your way up to the main market, then ask to be taken to Westfield
Junction and walk up Sayerr Jobe Avenue. You can also ask to be
dropped off near the former 'Tipper Garage' in Bakoteh, and make
your way from there.
get back to your accommodation
just pick up a cheaper yellow cab and ask them to take you to
your lodgings. Most drivers know all the main hotels
and lodges, and your taxi
fare shouldn't cost you more than the equivalent of £2.50.
[Geographical coordinates 13°26′N 16°40′W
/ Kombo North Saint Mary District (Ksmd)]