What is a Bantaba in Gambia?
The name "Bantaba" is derived from the word
for a large
which is called Bentennie in the
Mandinka language and is a traditional meeting place
for the men of the village. The origins of the word
is from the Mandinka for tree
which is "Bant" and "aba" means
"where to meet" and so the 2 words combined
says Bant-aba. It is the modern day equivalent of a
garden gazebo, which is larger than an arbour.
Today, it is used to describe any wooden or cement construct
which is located within the confines of a family compound
or other property with a roof made of grass or corrugated
iron sheets with pillars made of wood / bamboo or concrete.
The structure itself has no walls and resembles a gazebo.
Early in Gambian
history a big tree formed the basis and foundation of
Due to its natural shade it became an obvious meeting
place for men to get out of the stifling sun and heat
of their huts during the day. This is where they discussed
issues that were pertinent to the
village such as ceremonies or communal works.
The tree is sometimes known as a gathering tree.