Town (also spelt Birikama) and its outlying vicinity
are in the Kombo Central District, West Coast Region
of The Gambia, in West Africa. It is the regional capital
of the Western Region, the base for the headquarters
Area Council, & it is the most populated Local
Government Area in the country. Located inland, in the
South Bank, the main urban settlement is about 35km
southwest of the Banjul
capital, and has an estimated population of 750,000
people (699,704 - 2013 census).
The largest ethnic
group are the Mandinka,
followed by the Wolof, Manjago, Jola, Fulani, Serer,
Serahule, Laibe, Aku, Mauritanians and others. Brikama
is a market town and major trading centre for raw groundnuts,
palm oil (dende) and kernels. The local economy revolves
around petty trading, soap making and tie
& dye. Other livelihoods are horticulture, fruit
and vegetable distribution, pottery making, batik and
wood craft workshops. The town is famous for its traditional
music heritage of the Kora
is not an obvious place to stay for tourists visiting
The Gambia, as it is about 37km southeast of the coastal
resorts, and has few visitor amenities. However, there
are still a few
hotels & lodges available in the town itself,
as well as in the vicinity. The best room standards
can be found outside of the centre of town.
is a well used transport hub, and taxis
from all areas of Kombo either pass through, terminate
or commence their trips from the busy taxi garage, just
north of the produce market. A good network of main
trunk roads and feeder roads radiate outwards in all
directions, adding to the town's dominance in the Kombo
Central. These highways are used by passengers, road
haulage companies moving goods, and imported foodstuffs
to the market, as well as eastwards into the interior
of The Gambia, via the South Bank road. Fish is transported
in from the south west village of Gunjur,
passing the villages of Sifoe and Kiti, livestock
makes its way to and from the Livestock Market and also
westwards towards the coast and the Kombo Saint Mary
the central area of the settlement there is the village
market selling food, clothes and household goods, several
banks, the post office, Gamtel, the livestock market,
mosques, the fire station, the craft market, the police
station, a Catholic church, petrol stations such
as Galp, hardware retail stores, and other amenities.
• The Vicinity
outlying rural areas are characterised by small
villages, forests, savanna scrub, and small and large
farm holdings. The places worth visiting in these areas
are the various nature conservation reserves. To the
east of the town's vicinity is the Pirang
Forest Park, a forest gallery between the south
bank highway and the River Gambia. Its varied habitats
are rich birdwatching grounds. There is the conservation
project centred around the Jola Kachokorr camp in
Tenda Eco-Reserve, near Kafuta. Here you can spend
a few nights, relax in the rural surroundings, as well
as learn about local customs, culture, and cuisine.
To the north east of the town is the Nyambai Forest.
The most popular tourist attraction in the vicinity
of Brikama is the Makasutu
Cultural Forest. A private nature reserve with mangroves,
salt-flats, savannah, hard-wood and palm forests.
Their visitor centre has a decent restaurant and superb
swimming pool. Makasutu is also home to the luxury accommodation
based in the forest called Mandina Lodges. Then to the
south of Brikama there is the area around Marakissa
village. Here you will find attractive woodland, savanna
and palm trees, which are attractive breeding and feeding
grounds for numerous migratory and resident bird species.
There is the Marakissa
River Camp, to the south, which caters well for
birdwatchers, with its flat roof overlooking the river.
Founding Family History:
former pagan founders of Brikama, the Kontes, and their
descendants the Bojangs, are acknowledged as the original
settlers. The settlement is an old royal town, but which
had been destroyed in the second half of the 19th century,
during the Soninke-Marabout wars, which raged on for
decades in the Kombo regions of The Gambia. Brikama
in Bainunka means 'Women's Town'.
Tourist Attractions & Things
• Brikama Woodcarvers'
partly sheltered area is also known as the Woodcarving
Centre, and is located on the main road which splits
further north from the South Bank Highway. After the
rather scruffy and unpretentious entrance of the Brikama
Craft Market is a good selection of stalls selling
various souvenirs and gifts such as weaved baskets.
At the back of this area is the so called wood carvers'
'factory' where skilled craftsmen hack, split and chisel
freshly arrived wood (mostly teak and some mahogany)
into rough shapes. This is then passed onto the professional
carvers, stationed at the open stalls, to finish with
more intricate chiselling, sandpapering, varnishing
and waxing. Beware that many 'ebony' pieces are actually
made of the tropical hardwood, teak, then polished black.
Also note that some 'antique' pieces are not antique
The majority of the wood carvers are not Gambian but
Senegalese, and they follow a standard production formula
for the various forms. Among the varied wood products
produced here are wooden masks, Djembe
drums, food bowls, elephants, tall male and female
statues carrying containers, tigers, high-back stools,
lions, chess boards and pieces, Balafons, abstract forms,
old men figurines with attached beards, and decorated
calabash shakers. Aside from tourist souvenirs these
objects generally have little export demand.
is the major market in town that is well worth exploring.
The fruits, vegetables, fish and meat are piled in heaps
or neatly arranged into rows. You will find hoards of
flies hovering over pungent fish, piles of red onions,
tomatoes and okra, rows of smoked catfish, cloves
of garlic, plastic bottles of palm oil, heaps of in-season
mangos, bunches of bananas, gleaming aubergines, yellow
and red hot chillies, green oranges, rice sold by the
pot, lemons, imported apples, papaya, breadfruit and
other fruits and vegetables. There are also household
goods and garments on sale such as used clothing, metal
and plastic bowls, buckets, flip-flops, sandals, rolls
of colourful plain or designed fabrics, cheap clothing
from China and much more.
the outskirts of Brikama are several nature reserves
watching hotspots where you can find many bird species.
Among these areas are Kabafita Forest Park, Furnya
Forest Park and Marakissa
Further to the northeast and east, near the Gambia River,
are the Makasutu
Culture Forest and Pirang
Forest. Together, these environs provide rich and
varied habitats such as gallery forest, riverine, salt-flats,
Guinea savanna and scrubland, which are bountiful in
bird species, such as Gabar Goshawks, Green Crombecs,
African Pygmy Kingfishers, Black Crakes, White-spotted
Fluftails, African Green Pigeons, Western Bluebills,
Verreaux's Eagle Owls, Green Hylias, Turacos, Hammerkops,
Greenbuls, White-breasted Cuckoos, African Pied Hornbills
and Spotted Honeyguides.
At the now abandoned Pirang Shrimp Farm you might
see Quail-finches, African Spoonbills, White-faced Whistling
Ducks, Ringed Plovers, Black-headed Herons, eagles,
parakeets, European Spoonbills, Lesser Flamingos, Brown-necked
Parrots, Yellow-billed Shrikes, Ospreys, Dunlins, Spur-winged
Geese, Pied Avocets or the more elusive Black-crowned
the outskirts of town is a grove of trees called the
Santangba, at a place called Kotokali. The grove
is regarded as a sacred
place, and is the location of the first settlement
in the locality, made by the 13th century Mandinka migrants
from Mali Empire, during the reign of Sundiata Keita.
The reason why it's so well preserved is because it
is thought to be occupied by the spirits of ancestors,
so it is taboo for local people to take fruits, fell
trees or hunt there.
is the national sport of The Gambia, and tournaments
are mostly held in the Brikama Mini Stadium. The
rules of wrestling
are simple, the first man down on the ground with torso,
hands or arms loses.
Brikama's evening entertainment is quite subdued most
of the time, and very localized. Aside from the craft
market, the area is not generally geared towards tourists.
However, when there is a major Senegambian artist playing
in Jokor Night Club, the entertainment scene
gets more lively. Concert goers from all over the vicinity,
and the rest of the Kombos, as far as Bakau, will make
the long trip into town.
its low-key atmosphere there are a few good restaurants
and bars around, and if you ask a few locals you might
be directed to a few bars and restaurants in the locality.
There is the Wahatilene Restaurant & Garden,
on the high street, serving local cuisine, with a little
seating at the back. There is the budget priced
Bantang Bantaba in the Methodist Mission. It is
on your right hand side as you enter the Sanyang Road.
They serve cool drinks, nice sandwiches and other snacks.
You can even buy hot chilli sauces, jams and mustards
(Tel no: 4484853). If you don't mind something really
local then there is the Roots Bar & Sutura.
Located opposite the council offices, the restaurant
dishes such as peanut stew (Domoda), Jollof Rice
and Chicken Yassa, along with soft drinks or Julbrew.
(Tel no: 9959606).
There is also a small guesthouse on the Mosque Road,
300 metres from the taxi stand, called the Domorrdeema,
which serves food at the front, where you can eat beef,
chicken, fish, benachin (Jollof Rice), chips or rice
and the local sauce of the day (Tel no: 9903302).
Health & Safety:
the day there are usually plenty of people out and about,
and there is very little to be concerned regarding your
personal safety. However, do be aware of hazards in
the streets. Avoid walking on the paved road, if possible,
due to the risk of getting hit by a car. This is not
always easy as there isn't usually a decent pavement
to walk on. Keep your money and jewellery out of site.
Finally, do not venture far out alone at night. If you
go out into the vicinity, such as the bush, then do
cover your arms and legs properly, wear boots, sunscreen
and use insect repellent.
get to the centre of Brikama Town from the Gambia's
coastal resorts of Kololi
and Kotu, you take one of the yellow or more expensive
green tourist taxis, go up the coastal road, past Brusubi
turntable and onto the Airport
Road. At the main T-junction at Old Yundum, you take
a right, past Busumbala village and into the Brikama
Highway. The other route is directly from Banjul, through
past Banjulunding and onwards into the centre of the
settlement. It is possible to take either of two paved
roads that will take you directly to Sanyang
Gunjur on the south west
coast, within 15 minutes.
[Geographical coordinates 13.2667° N, 16.6500°
W / Kombo Central, Western Region (WCR)]