Yunus S Saliu
There are more than enough valuable and durable items that tourists can buy in The Gambia for their personal use, as a souvenir, or as gifts to their friends and families left back home during their journey for holiday in The Gambia – The Smiling Coast of Africa.
Among these items are craft materials like hand-woven fabrics, leather products of different categories, jewelry, sand paintings and basketry, tie-and-dye and batiks, woodcarvings, and some other valuable goods. But one of the most popular craft market items among these handicrafts is woodcarving that you can find in any of the craft markets or places of attraction that you visit. It always captures the attention of everyone at the entrance of any craft market in the Gambia because of its qualities that at the same time express the innermost thought of the people.
There are some major craft markets in the country where you can do your shopping without the stress. Among such major places are Bakau, Fajara, BB, Cape Point, Senegambia, Brikama, and Banjul craft (in Albert market) markets respectively, all are very interesting markets if you can visit them.
However, there is an ultra-modern craft market called Fajara Craft Market which is an edifice market for vendors called Fajara Craft Market. It was built as part of the mandate to further develop tourism products within the tourism industry. It contains over fourty stalls that can accommodate over 90 vendors. All the craft markets added value to Gambian tourism and in no small measure contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country.
Craft markets are an important component of the tourism product and another place where you can learn everything you will like to know that pertains to any of the items at your sight without reluctance and even their traditional values. Almost all of the popular hotels in the country have located places outside the main hotels for the sale of craft materials.
Gambian carvers continued receiving more applause from tourists, in the past, some tourists do bring along with their catalogues and engaged the service of carvers to carve items of their choice for them. A visit to any of these craft markets will open you to general and special demands from tourists that are in the country for a holiday especially when the season is at its peak.
As a tradition and part of winning more customers sellers at the craft markets enjoy explaining the advent and usefulness of most of their displayed materials, especially artworks to tourists or visitors that are willing to find out and know more about what they see.
Concentrating more on woodwork or artworks, since it always captures the attention of tourists most, then it is a simple way of expressing the innermost thoughts of people and way of describing action and view, among this is a ‘thinking man.’ It is a well-carved and designed statue having one of its kneels kneeling on the ground and the head bow down. It is like a shadow of a human being, it does not possess an eye, nose, mouth, ear, or whatever that can identify the status it takes but it is envisaged to be an old man sorting for a solution to a problem in a family.
Another exciting one among of lot displayed is a portrait of a hunter. Hunters in Africa are known to be special people with special knowledge. Hunters are the kings of the forest but back in the community, we have a wise man popularly called ‘Kekuroba’ in the Gambia community. This was carved with full concentration that reflects in the image. This speaks about the authenticity of a wise man. ‘Kekuroba,’ in a community, is the oldest and wisest, everyone believes that he has the solution to every problem before him. Because it is a fact and knowledge believed that he has inherited from his forefather. Such old people are common in the provinces or hinterlands. They can talk and invoke the spirit and they are as well as traditional healers.
People that specialize in community and cultural tourism will definitely enjoy meeting them on a visit to destination Gambia.
In this visit and beyond, you can learn more about these artworks and buy different types of these craft materials for yourself and present them to your family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones as well. African craft materials have gone far beyond expectation in recent years in the Gambia, tourists are the major patron of these craft markets.
Woodcarving or artwork is effusive of what is in mind. Their job always expresses what is in man’s mind.
In addition to all that you can find in any of the craft markets since craft works involve improving and bringing new things to the notice of the visitors, especially things that will measure up to the standard demands of westerners, every day, new things added as flavour to what you can see in the craft markets.
Therefore, another way of expressing your innermost feeling about the Gambia is through the memorable items you can see and buy in the craft markets across the country. So visit any of the craft markets available in different locations in the Gambia because a lot is awaiting your imagination.