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Senegambia facts for kids

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Africa (1878) (14753269636)
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, was a loose confederation between Senegal and Gambia. The term Senegambia was used by the British as early as 1765. They used it to refer to their settlements on the islands off the coast of present day Senegal. The modern use of the term Senegambia means the region that includes both Senegal and Gambia.

Senegambian history

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. The Toucouleur people were settled in east and central Senegal. Kingdoms such as the Jolof and the Sere settled in the area north of the Gambia River. The first Europeans, Portuguese sailors, arrived about 1455. 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.

Senegambia and the Middle Passage

About 24% of the African slaves brought to America, were from Senegambia. 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. This means that many African slaves in the US had been exposed to Islam much more than the rest of the Americas.

Because of the need for field workers up to two-thirds of Africans taken captive were men. In the Senegambia region due to the high demand by buyers, men and boys were taken from all over the region. 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. 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. Some historians say that it was the women who organized many of the slave uprisings at sea.

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