Kunta Kinteh Island is located in The Gambia.
At 30 km from the capital of the country, on the Gambia River itself, we can find the Island of Kunta Kinteh.
Formerly, called James Island. The island adopts the name of Kunta Kinteh, in 2011, to remember the period of slavery that was lived in this area of West Africa.
The island is one of the scenarios that witnessed the slave trade that developed for centuries in the area, before its subsequent abolition in the nineteenth century.
These positioning of the island is strategic and witnessed the meeting between Africa and Europe as a way of access to the interior of the African continent.
In the tenth Century, Gambia still was not Gambia, but it belonged to the Empire of Songhai, territory that included until Niger and Burkina Faso.
It was also part of the Mali Empire (from the 13th century) … and the island was a marketing area.
With the arrival of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century, the slave trade was used to obtain labor.
River Gambia passed into the hands of the British in 1588 and it was England that began to trace the borders of the country to define what we now know as the Gambia.
Gambia comes from the name Mandinka Cambi Bolongo which means Cambi River. According to the story, Cambi is pronounced by the first Europeans like Gambia.
The British traded slaves and brought more than three million slaves from the African region.
Until 1807 Gambia became the exit door for African slaves. From the rural tribes of West Africa they moved to America, mainly the United States, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil and Colombia among others.
Millions of African Americans descend from African slaves. You could say that the Gambia is one of the areas of origin of the slave trade …
On the island of Kunta Kinteh, known at that time Saint Andrews, slaves waited to be shipped to the new continent.
In the town of Juffureh, there is the jetty to access the island. In this town was born Kunta Kinteh, protagonist of the novel Roots.
Written by one of his descendants, Alex Haley, the novel Raíces unveiled the Gambian Kunta Kinteh internationally. This novel was script for the screen in two occasions, in the miniseries Raíces of 1977 and in the series of TV Roots of 2016.
The first series was very successful on television and marked a historical fact.
Roots showed the drama of slavery from the point of view of the victims, the slaves. It told the origin of Afroamericans.
The issue of racism and slavery was openly discussed. The trade in slaves and slaves fed America and Europe, for centuries, with cheap labor.
In Juffureh we can find the sculpture of human form with broken shackles in the hands. Its head is Planet Earth. At his feet, we read “Never Again”. This is the symbol of the freedom of the Gambian population.
You can meet and converse with the descendants of Kunta Kinteh, those who still remain in the village.
Finally, the Juffureh Museum shows part of the suffering experienced by the slaves. In the Museum there are original posters selling people, chains, rifles, whips and instruments of torture. The colonists subjected the Gambians and neighboring African countries.