Discovering The Gambia Life at Brikama Market


Discovering The Gambia Life at Brikama Market

Bright colours, bustling alleys, people coming and going: Brikama market is one of the best places in The Gambia to discover the local life.

Gambia, Scenes from Brikana Market

The vendors arrive from the surrounding villages by mini-vans impossibly stuffed with their goods. In the narrow alleyways between the stalls, people make their way through the crowd, stopping to buy what little they need. Gambia is a poor country, where for the largest part of the population there’s no money to waste.

Gambia Market Life

My first stop is at a stall, to buy a piece of local batik that I’ll later bring to a tailor shop to get a Gambia-style tunic and slacks. As we move on, my eyes roam around, trying to catch the whirlwind of people, goods and colors.

[pullquote]Brikama market is s bursting with life and a great place to discover the fascinating life in The Gambia[/pullquote]

The women are beautiful in their traditional colourful costumes: a long skirt, a blouse and the kerchief tastefully arranged on their heads. They often carry babies wrapped around on their back, kids with such beautiful and big brown eyes curiously wandering around.

Gambia Girl at the Market

The Gambia is a Muslin country, thus, it is not surprising that many of women at the market look suspiciously at our cameras, waving to let us know that they don’t want to be photographed. Others, however, are driven by curiosity and slowly come nearer. As I take a couple of photos, I show them on the LCD screen of the camera, looking at their smiling faces while they watch at their portraits.

All of a sudden Tom, one of my travel companions, makes a brilliant move. Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his stovepipe hat, Tom took from his backpack a little printer and in a matter of minutes became the market’s miracle man. Grinning at their printed image, proudly showing it around, the first women who were portrayed soon attracted a small crowd gathering around Tom, all keen to get a picture of themselves.

Gambia Lady at the Market

More people approach, all attracted by the cameras and asking for a photo. And I start to feel bad when they ask for the printed picture and tell them that I don’t have the magic tool. After a while, we decide to leave Tom with the crowd surrounding him and to explore a little more of the market.

Colorful vegetables…

Vegetables at a Gambian Market

Fried fish…

Gambia Fried Fish at the market

Dried fish…

Dried Fish

Kola nuts which, we’ve been told, are often offered as a way to pay respect to the most important members of a family…

Kola nuts

And hanging bras…

Hanging Bras

As lunch time approaches, people start to pack their remaining goods, reloading the vans. And we head back to the beautiful Mandina Lodges for a little rest before the sunset cruise on the river.


Note: A big thank you to The Gambia Experience for inviting me to discover such a special country. I fell in love with the wonderful people and the fantastic life of this beautiful African nation.


More reading: Traditional Life at a Burmese Market: A Photo Tour 


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  • John
    Posted at 23:56h, 15 July Reply

    Dear Simon,
    I write to draw your attention to the deplorable human rights situation in The Gambia and bring it to your attention that this country has another side is left unsaid,please see the links below.


    • Simon Falvo
      Posted at 08:13h, 16 July Reply

      Dear John, thank you for sharing what I would call ‘the dark side of the moon’. It’s saddening to read about human rights abuses in The Gambia, and something it’s hard to get aware of by spending only a few days in this awesome country. Raising awareness is certainly very important and hopefully, more visitors to The Gambia will mean in the near future more pressures on the Government to end up what is an unacceptable situation.

  • Lori
    Posted at 18:27h, 25 May Reply

    Lovely post, Simon:) Amazing photos – I like the portrait of the lady in yellow and also interesting facts – on the Kola nuts 🙂

    • Simon Falvo
      Posted at 08:15h, 16 July Reply

      Thank you, Lori. The Gambia is so colorful that it’s not hard to take good photos 🙂 And there are plenty of interesting facts regarding the local traditions and beliefs and I wish I would have stayed longer to discover more of it. Well… A good reason to go back!

  • Wendy
    Posted at 06:03h, 25 May Reply

    Hi Simon!

    Your photographs are stunning! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experiences … it nourishes my wanderlusting soul, and makes me dream even bigger! Although I won’t be traveling to any far away dream destinations anytime soon, I’m totally fine with that. I’m gonna focus all my energy into getting my new “not-really-traveling” travel blog up and running. 🙂 I’m fueled with the passion to rediscover my beautiful island home of Maui–I’m so blessed. Thanks again for the inspiration!

    With Gratitude from Maui,

  • Monica
    Posted at 12:11h, 13 May Reply

    Beautiful pictures Simon. I just wish I could have seen Tom with his long queue of people waiting to have their photo taken!

  • Katherine Belarmino - Travel the World
    Posted at 09:21h, 12 May Reply

    I love visiting markets when I travel to other countries. Your food pictures are fantastic. Thank you for sharing your market experience.

  • Jessica J. Hill
    Posted at 16:45h, 11 May Reply

    I love this. What a wonderful idea to print up portraits for locals who’ve probably never had one before. You’ll be remembered forever, and now they have a special gift of their own.

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