About Gambia

The Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa. It has a short coast on the Atlantic Ocean but is otherwise completely surrounded by Senegal. The Gambia is a mainly flat and low-lying strip of land bisected by the River Gambia. It has rocky hills to the east and many sandy beaches along the coast

Find out more about The Gambia




Diola English Mandinka Pulaar (Fulbe) Serer Soninke Wolof

English is the official language, but the most frequently spoken languages are generally of the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo family. Mandinka and Wolof constitute the lingua francas of the country, and other languages spoken include Pulaar (Fulbe), Serer, Diola, and Soninke. (Source: https://www.britannica.com/place/The-Gambia)


2.417 million (2022)


11,600 square kilometres

High Commissioner

H.E. Dr Fatou Bensouda



Joined Commonwealth

1965 following independence from Britain; left 2013, re-joined 2018

Top Exports


Episode guests

Tijan M Sallah

Tijan M. Sallah was born in Sere Kunda, Gambia, in 1958. After attending St. Augustine’s High School in the Gambia, he came to the US and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Economics and Business at Berea College and a Ph.D. in economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He taught economics at several American universities before joining the World Bank, where he worked on several developing countries to combat global poverty and retired as Sector Manager for Agriculture and Rural development. Sallah is a versatile writer. He is the Gambia’s foremost poet and writer after Lenrie Peters. Poet, short story writer, biographer and critic, he has been described by critics as one of Africa’s most significant poets and writers following the generation of Wole Soyinka and novelist Chinua Achebe. He has published 6 collections of poetry (When Africa Was a Young Woman, 1980; Kora Land, 1989; Dreams of Dusty Roads, 1993; Dream Kingdom: Selected Poems, 2007; Harrow: London Poems of Convalescence, 2014; I Come from a Country, 2022); edited three poetry anthologies (New Poets of West Africa,1995, and The New African Poetry, 1999-coedited with Tanure Ojaide; and most recently the mega anthology of world poetry, A World Assembly of Poets, 2017. He has also published a biography of Africa’s most famous novelist, Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light, 2003 (recommended by The Guardian, July 22, 2008 issue); published a short story collection, Before the New Earth, and most recently published a book of critical essays on literature and culture titled Saani Baat: Aspects of African Literature and Culture, 2021. His works have appeared in many major African short story and poetry anthologies, including the classic The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry edited by Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier. He was awarded the top literary prize by Young Writers Association (YWAG) and the Writers Association (WAG) of the Gambia. A book of critical perspectives on his works by various scholars, Tijan M. Sallah and Literary Works of the Gambia, was edited by Professor Wumi Raji and published in 2014 by Cambria Press, US.

We Have Come Home

by Lenrie Peters

We have come home
From the bloodless war
With sunken hearts
Our boots full of pride –
From the true massacre of the soul
When we have asked
‘What does it cost
To be loved and left alone?’

We have come home,
Bringing the pledge
Which is written in rainbow colours
Across the sky – for burial
But it is not the time
To lay wreaths
For yesterday’s crimes
Night threatens
Time dissolves
And there is no acquaintance
With tomorrow

The gurgling drums
Echo the star
The forest howls –
And between the trees
The dark sun appears.

We have come home
When the dawn falters
Singing songs of other lands
The Death March
Violating our ears
Knowing all our lore and tears
Determined by the spinning coin.

We have come home
To the green foothills
To drink from the cry
Of warm and mellow birdsong,
To the hot beaches
Where the boats go out to sea
Threshing the ocean’s harvest
And the harassing, plunging
Gliding gulls shower kisses on the waves.
We have come home

Where through the lightning flash
And thundering rain
The Pestilence, the drought
The sudden spirit
Lingers on the sandy road
Supporting the tortured remnants
Of the flesh
That spirit which asks no favour
But to have dignity.

I Come From A Country

by Tijan M Sallah

from the collection I Come From A Country

come from a country where the land is small,
But our hearts are big;
Where we greet everyone by name in the morning,
Blessed is the country where everyone knows your name.

When the sun rises and burns hot over our brows,
And the ocean rocks the shores, hurling memories and dreams,
We squint and open our arms with hope.
Blessed is the country where hope rises daily with the sun.

I come from a country where the river is our soul.
It transports our dreams and swallows our refuse.
It meanders like a snake, but is not hateful with venom.
At its head is brine; at its tail is sweet water.
Blessed is the country where you can eat barracuda at its head
And tilapia at its tail.

And the canoes come and go.
The ferries and boats traverse the frothy hill of waves.
And the fishermen spread their nests
To harvest wild colonies of mullets and bonga fish.

I come from a country where the land is small,
But our hearts are big;
Where poverty gnaws at our heels,
But we have not given up hope.
We continue to work.

And if resilience were a person,
She would live in my country.
She would be a calloused-handed -woman
In sun-drenched rice-fields,
With a child strapped on her back,
But with a love enormous as the sea.

I come from a country where the land is small,
But our hearts are big.
Where we still believe in such things as
Sweating with your hand,
And still remember God and family.
And still support the indigent,
And carry Hope like oysters,
Sun-peeping from their shells.
Blessed is the country where people still find hope in the sun.

I come from a country where the land is small,
But our hearts are big;
Where poverty contorts the smiles of children,
But they still smile;
Where the sea is our strong ally against kwashiorkor,
Where men do not flood their entrails with coffee
To quench their civilized despair,
Blessed is the country where life still has zest and meaning.

The Wisdom of First and Last

by Tijan M Sallah

from the collection I Come From A Country

We are one from Adam.
And if you do not believe in the legend of Scriptures,
Then choose your myth. Choose Darwin.
Choose his legend of apes: how we grew from amoebae, sperms,
To our simian ancestors;
Hunting rodents and, as our brains grew, pachyderm.

And it all began in Africa, out of the void.
In the journey, we passed through Bab-al-Mandab.
In Africa, the seed was sown; the legend churned.
The Bushmen still keep the secrets
That we all forgot; so do the Jains of India.
We call then naked. They think the opposite.
They wear the clothes of creation,
Flesh trained to withstand the elements;
A spirit disciplined by the vibrations of the earth.
We wear the spoils of invention.
They wear the original gift.

And it seems, the more we look at them.
V.le learn we are one.
For what does a human need?
Food, water, straw to rest on, and the love of kin?
Spirit and stories to accompany the journey of the clock?
What else? The rest is only the vanity of excess.

Civilization is a race to build monuments;
Erect statues, as did the pharaohs.
Invent pliant gadgets; sequester time.
And all the time saved
Moves us closer to the dust.
Civilization has led to
The extermination of brutes:
The mean-spirited plunder of
Earth-people, nature people,
Who are slow to change;
But who know a thing or two
That we do not know.
And how arrogant we can be, we the presumed civilized.
Because we can switch on the lightbulb,
And finger the iPhone, we think we are superior.

We keep squandering earth and wind
With the tireless fires of our greed.
Ye t, we are not different from the savage.
Only that our desires follow our ambition.
We only know a little more algebra;.
Spiced with a little alchemy.

Pinch our skin and the same blood gushes red.
We are one. The variance is in the ambition.
We have to narrow it;
To learn from the First.
For the Last humans will last only
If they discover the enduring secrets of the First.

Dawn Visit

by Tijan M Sallah

from the poetry collection, Kora Land

You came at dawn.
Cocks have not yet crowed.
How can I open the door?

You are a stranger.
And even if I know you,
The night is not meant
For visiting.

This you must know –
There is a cockcrow
For everything.

My ancestors loved strangers,
But not one at dawn.
Not one who vies
With the moon and stars.
Not one who, like a scavenger,
Eats the green of night.

We are daypeople.
If you come by daylight
When the afternoon dangles yellow
On the cactus and grass,
I will spread my tablecloth.

Everything for you –
Salmon, bread, shrimp,
Lemon, water, ginger drink.
Eat, drink to satisfaction.

But now you come at dawn
When early birds
Are drunk asleep in guava trees,
When the rats that wrestle in darkness
Gnaw brown cassavas,
And you want me to open
The door for you.

How can I
When grey-bearded nights
Are not meant for visiting?