Albreda

Albreda is a historic small town in Gambia on the north bank of the Gambia River, near Juffure in the North Bank Division, one of the five administrative divisions of Gambia, whose capital is Kerewan. The town was founded somewhere in the period from the early 16th-to late-17th century, by Islamic teacher, Musa Gaye, a member of the "Wolof" ethnic group that occupies regions of Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia. Britain held the nearby Fort James, on the nearby island of the same name and monopolised trade on the Gambia River. They were greatly troubled when local ruler, Niumi Mansa, (from whom the Niumi District takes its name) mindful of the fact that his people were dependent on European trade, gave control of the strategically-located town over to the French in 1681. There was relentless hostility and sporadic conflict between Britain and France, with Fort James changing hands a number of occasions, before Albreda finally became part of the British Empire in 1857. A family in the village claims to be desendants of Kunta Kinte and oral historian Fofana, the man who allegedly narrated the "Roots" story to author Alex Haley (see separate article on Juffure).

Things To Do And See

Museum of Slavery

The village of Albreda is home to the Museum of Slavery, opened in 1996 in the Maurel Freres building, constructed by British colonialists in the mid 19th century and last occupied by a Lebanese merchant named Maurel. Its displays of relics of the slave trade offer an interesting insight into the history of slavery. These include chain locks for hands and feet, manacles, yokes and other implements used to restrain the unfortunate victims. The displays are accompanied by thorough contemporary documentation of the vile trade, indicating that as many as one in ten people died on the trip termed the "Voyage of No Return." The museum houses a permanent exhibition, "Voyage of No Return - The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Senegambia."

Ruins of San Domingo

Situated near the banks of the River Gambia is the World Heritage Site of San Domingo. It was established as a trading post in the late 1400s by Portuguese traders who operated as brokers and intermediaries for the Europeans. A colourful account from a visitor of that period describes San Domingo thus, "The building was small but of two storeys with courses of mortar running through the laterite rock. The plaster was tinted pink and there was a yellow brick arch over one window, as well as four rectangular windows beneath a wooden lintel." San Domingo also had gardens, a well, a church and a cemetery. Its provenance as one of the oldest European settlements in Africa and its strong association with James Island make it a historical site of huge importance. The ruins of six buildings can be viewed at the site.

Compagnie Francaise d'Afrique Occidentale Building

The Compagnie Francaise d'Afrique Occidentale (CFAO) building is another World Heritage Site in the village of Albreda. Its precise age is unknown, although drawings from 1847 indicate a stone building in the same position. The building was bought by CFAO in 1902. The historical significance of the CFAO building lies in the fact that it is one of only two buildings remaining from the period of the French occupation of Albreda from 1681 to 1857. The post was exposed to substantial action associated with many types of trade and other facets of interaction between Europeans and Africans. This remnant from that time provides a tangible connection to the people and events that characterised the age.

Remains Of Portuguese Chapel

A further World Heritage Site, constructed in Albreda circa 1450, these ruins represent one of the oldest Portuguese churches to be found in the Senegambia region.

The "Factory"

Another popular tourist attraction in Albreda is the ruins of the "factory," a fortified, French-built slaving station dating from the second half of the 17th century.

Shops and Market

Albreda is also renowned for shops selling batik of superlative quality, allegedly the best in the whole of Gambia. In addition, there is the omnipresent local tourist craft market.

Getting There And Travelling Around The Area

Albreda is approximately 40 minutes by road from Barra. A ferry runs from the capital, Banjul, to Barra between six and eight times every day, with the ferry crossing taking in the region of half an hour. Visitors to Albreda are advised to join up with an organised trip from Banjul or make their own way to the town via ferry and bush taxi.


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