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Juffure Village (Gambia)

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PHOTOS  Kunta Kinteh Island
The small Gambian village of Juffure (Juffureh) became famous in the 1970s following the television release of the bestselling book, "Roots", written by the African-American author Alex Haley, a descendant of Kunta Kinte. The series told the story of Kunta Kinte's capture in Juffure by slave traders and his subsequent enslavement in America round 200 years ago.

Village womanJuffure has a population estimate of 5,800. Nearby is Albreda village, both are Mandinka and Serer tribal villages. Since the mid-seventies this area has been the main tourist destination for Roots Heritage Tours.  Both are located in the Niumi District of the north bank of the river. Very close to both villages is James Island (which is the colonial period ruins of a slavery station) and the 'Portuguese chapel' of San Domingo which later came to be known as Sandi Munko Joyo. Nearby there are also the old ruins of Maurel Freres and the CFAO trading post.

Roots Heritage TrailAnother place worth visiting is the tranquil village community of Albreda which is only 500 metres from Juffure and is home to the Slavery Museum opened in 1996 in the Maurel Fréres building which was built by the British in the 1840's. Here you will find some historical artifacts of enslavement on display such as chain neck-locks,  foot-locks, yokes, Kissi pennies & Bronze Manillas as well as a comprehensive historical testament to the diabolical trade in 'Black Ivory' which shows that 10% to 20% of people died on the so called 'Voyage of No Return'. Another attraction that tourists come to see in Albreda are the ruins of the 'factory' - a fortified slaving station built by the French in the late 17th century.

Slavery MuseumNot far is a shop selling some of the finest batik in the country. While there take an opportunity to visit Kunta Kinte's family relatives such as Binta Kinte, the widow of the griot Fofana who narrated the story of Kunta Kinte to Alex Haley. And there is of course the ubiquitous local tourist craft market.

Background History:
According to local oral history the founder of Juffure was a man by the name of Samba Taal. When he migrated to The Gambia to settle down in the early part of the 1500s he found the Portuguese were already there.

After 1661 the local economy of Juffure was closely linked to those of James Island. Due to the good relations between the colonialists and the local Mandingos the Niumi 'king' gave the British, under Major Robert Holmes, permission to dig a water well, create gardens and a trading post at 'Gilliflee', 'Jithrey' or 'Jillifrey'. The Royal African Company's employees and slaves lived there on a continuous basis and it was used as a back-up whenever the nearby fort was rendered uninhabitable.

Both Juffure Village (Latitude: 13.339°, longitude. -16.37°, altitude 25 metres) and Albreda (aka Albadarr) are 30km upstream in the Upper Niumi District, Western Region of the Gambia River and lie just 500 metres apart on the river bank (both have now physically merged).

Travel Information:
The village can easily be reached from Banjul and continues to draw in the tourists though now to a lesser extent. To get to Juffureh you can either go by organised boat trips (many boats are for private hire at Banjul's Denton Bridge) with a "Roots" tour operator or take a ferry crossing from Banjul to Barra then proceed by taxi.

Places to Visit:
Museum at Juffure
National Museum of the North Bank
James Island
San Domingo
CFAO building

Places to Eat:
Rising Sun Restaurant


Nearest places to stay:-

Jimbana Park Eco-lodge Tel: 770 7976

Kunta Kinte Roots Camp Tel: 9914508

Juffureh Rest House Tel: 9955736 / 4398439

Home At Last Motel Tel: 9926276

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