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Family Compounds in Gambia

A compound in Gambia means a collection of accommodations round a centrally situated main residence, occupied by members of the same family, or related by blood or marriage within a joint fence. A compound usually comes into being because someone settles to live on his own, for example as a result of the existence of farmland. He buys, gets or inherits a piece of land and builds a fence around it.

In the course of time a small house comes into being that is rebuild into a larger house later. Children who get married settle within the same fence, build a house fixed to it, or build their own house somewhere else on the terrain.

The responsibility for the maintaining family co-operation and communal co-operation is with the head of the household who is usually the oldest male. The smaller parts of a compound are referred to as sinkiro and dabada.

Like the one you will be inhabiting, compounds are the main style of housing in The Gambia. Compounds generally consist of a wall or fence enclosing several buildings that face an outdoor communal area used for sitting, eating, doing laundry, playing, saying prayers, and every other activity taking place outside.

Immediate families, such as a wife and her children, often occupy individual buildings or parts of a building with separate entrances, with the larger extended family sharing the compound as a whole. Sometimes rooms or entire compounds are rented out to a small or newly formed family.

Family Structure

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