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An 1881 map of Africa showing Senegambia

Senegambia was a region of West Africa occupying the area of present day Senegal and Gambia. The 20th century Senegambia Confederation,[a] was a loose confederation between Senegal and Gambia. The term Senegambia was used by the British as early as 1765.[2] They used it to refer to their settlements on the islands off the coast of present day Senegal.[2] The modern use of the term Senegambia means the region that includes both Senegal and Gambia.[2]

Senegambian history[change | change source]

There is little known about the early history of the area. By about 1000 AD the Soninke, Mandinka and Fula peoples had formed settlements along the Gambia River.[3] The Toucouleur people were settled in east and central Senegal.[3] Kingdoms such as the Jolof and the Sere settled in the area north of the Gambia River.[3] The first Europeans, Portuguese sailors, arrived about 1455.[3] Portugal controlled the area between the Sénégal and Gambia Rivers until the British, Dutch and French moved into the area. They traded goods such as salt, iron, guns and gunpowder for gold, ivory, ebony and slaves.[3]

Senegambia and the Middle Passage[change | change source]

About 24% of the African slaves brought to America, were from Senegambia.[b][7] The Africans from Senegambia were found nearly everywhere in the United States before the American Civil War, both in the North and South.Senegambia was strongly Muslim.[7] This means that many African slaves in the US had been exposed to Islam much more than the rest of the Americas.[7]

Because of the need for field workers up to two-thirds of Africans taken captive were men.[8] In the Senegambia region due to the high demand by buyers, men and boys were taken from all over the region.[8] Women, however, being in less demand, were taken from the easily accessed coastal areas. Most of them belonged to the Jolof people and so, unlike the men, they had a common language.[8] Due to the fear of slaves revolting, men were kept below decks and in chains. Women were usually kept on deck and were sometimes allowed to move around.[8] Some historians say that it was the women who organized many of the slave uprisings at sea.[8]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The later confederation of the same name as the earlier territory existed from 1982 until 1989.[1] After 8 years of trying, it was decided to end the confederation idea.[1]
  2. Estimates of how many Africans were taken to the Americas from the 15th to the 19th centuries vary widely.[4] Good records were not kept. After the early 19th century, when slave trading was illegal, no numbers exist since slaves were smuggled into the Americas.[4] During the 19th century it was estimated 20 million slaves landed in the Americas although other sources double that number.[4] A recent study by Professor John Farge argues that the actual number of African slaves was no more than 9 million and probably less than that.[5] In his article "How Many Slaves Landed in the US?", Henry Louis Gates, Jr. estimates that, based on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, about 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World.[6] About 10.7 million survived the Middle Passage and came to North America, South America, and the Caribbean.[6] Out of these only about 388,000 came directly to North America.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Alieu Ceesay (17 February 2015). "The Senegambia Confederation The rise and fall of the unification". Observer Company Ltd. Archived from the original on 15 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Senegambia Origins". Access Gambia. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Senegambia". The Atlas of the Gambia/Columbia University. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "How many Africans were transported to the Americas as a result of the European slave trade? Has anyone tried to quantify how many died as a result?,,-1255,00.html". Guardian News and Media Limited. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. G. N. Uzoigwe, The Slave Trade and African Societies', Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, Vol. 14, No. 2, (December 1973), p. 189
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (6 January 2014). "How Many Slaves Landed in the US?". The Root. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Senegambia, The Gold Coast, and The Bight Of Benin". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Molly Morgan. "Women's Resistance in the Middle Passage: A Story Lost at Sea". University at Albany. Retrieved 31 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)