Heritage Tourism and Heritage

Mungo Park Memorial Obelisk

The Mungo Park Memorial Obelisk is one of the historical places of attractions in Destination Gambia. The memorial park was erected in 1944 by Governor of The Gambia Sir Hilary Rudolph Robert Blood in honor of the great explorer Mungo Park. Mungo Park was sent to discover the origin of the River Niger by the Royal African Society but was unfortunately killed in Nigeria in January 1806.

Narrating the story of Mungo Park and his connections with Destination Gambia, Hassoum Ceesay, Historian and Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture said the great Scottish explorer of the river Niger, Mungo Park began his exploration at the mouth of the Gambia river in 1795 where he ascended the river for 200 miles to Pisania “a place now called and known as Karantaba in Destination Gambia to find the source of the River Niger but was killed during his second expedition.”
 
Pisania now known as Karantaba in Torro Sami District, Central River Region in the olden days used to be a British trading station.
 
Mungo Park expedition was sponsored by the Royal African Society and he was instructed to start his exploration journey, to locate the origin of the River Niger, from The Gambia because “then there were lots of British traders trading along the river Gambia and with believed that in the Gambia, he will be able to gather more information. Also to make some collection of what he will need for the journey such as foods, escorts, drinks, carriers, and other materials,” historian Ceesay explained.

According to him, his mission to locate the origin of the river Niger on his first journey failed because those who he was supposed to meet at the British trading station has all moved/migrated to Goree in Senegal while he become helpless and went back to England.

“But in 1805 Mungo Park was reassigned to explore the origin of the river Niger and he led some numbers of Europeans to Pisania and met a medical doctor called Laidley based in Karantaba (former Pisania). He spent two months, and got well prepared for the journey and set out for his exploration journey from the spot to find the source of the River Niger,” he explained.

However, in December 1805, Mungo Park was already in present-day Nigeria “but unfortunately there he was killed in an accident as he and his group were attacked.”

“Since Karantaba (former Pisania) was the spot he arrived in The Gambia and started his expedition, the then Governor of The Gambia Sir Hilary Rudolph Robert Blood in 1944 built Mungo Park Memorial Obelisk in the same spot in his honor,” he added. 

Presently, the NCAC is rehabilitating the area earmarked with a perimeter fence to secure it and have a small museum to show pictures, documents, and the life history of Mungo Park and the Kings of Niani who gave him the support he needed during his stay in Pisania.

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Yunus S Saliu

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