Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Meeting place at the compound

As soon as I open my front door a child peeks in to see what’s going on in my ‘kitchen’room.  I’m staying at a compound in Busumbala (near Brikama) where three other families live. Altogether there are nine kids and one on the way. After school the other children from the compound meet at my kitchen table to play games, chat - about their day, about my day, about The Gambia, about The Netherlands -  or just to hang around with the toubab (white person/ foreigner).

Let me introduce you to some of the children of the compound:

Meet Buba Jammeh
Buba hardly leaves my side when I’m at the compound, unless he’s playing soccer or has to help his mum. Buba is 7 years old, has one older and two younger brothers. His mum takes care of the kids, the compound and the garden. His dad is a police officer.

Buba is very good in drawing animals. So you can imagine what’s on my wall. Buba goes to lower school. Every other week he has the morning shift or the afternoon shift at school. At school he learns English, math, Arabic, integrated studies, poetry and more. First day we met he showed me his school work with great enthusiasm.

Meet Lamin Samura (like samurai, but without the i)
Lamin helps out a lot in the compound – gardening, making ataja (very sweet green tea) - but he likes to sit at the kitchen table with the others as well.

Most first born sons in the Gambia are called lamin, after prophet Mohammed. First thing Lamin showed me at the kitchen table was a Quran from school. Very proudly he read out loud from the Quran.
Lamin is 15 years old. His is living with his mother, older sister and brother in law in the compound. His brother in law, is my landlord. The brother of my landlord is the owner of the compound and lives in Denmark.

Lamin goes to an Arabic school.  There he’s educated in Quran, Arabic, English, Maths and more. Because of his school Lamin speaks better Arabic then English. He says it’s good for his future to speak Arabic, so he can work abroad in Arabic countries in a couple of years.

Multi lingual
A lot of children here speak multiple languages. Cause Buba and Lamin quarrel in Malinka, one of the dialects in the Gambia, about that one can speak English better and the other can speak Arabic better. So I would say at the age of 7 and 15 they are very multi lingual.

If you have any questions for Buba or Lamin, let me know!


  1. Hmmm... I thought I posted a comment... Maybe something went wrong... Anyway: great to hear from you, Jessica, and to meet Buba and Lamin. I think their multilinguality is very interesting. Say hi to them in Dutch! :)

    1. I will! And yes i think so too. Last week i even watched a French Class for 5 year olds...

      Also they are running some pilots schools in the Gambia where they mainly use the local languages. They want to find out if it will help the children to better understand math, integrated studies, and the other subjects.

  2. Sounds like you're having a good time over there! :) and you'll be even more multilangual in a couple of months because of all these languages :)
    looking fw to hearing more! oh and the pictures you sent are cool!

  3. Hallo Jessica,

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