Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites
Kunta Kinteh Island And Related Sites
Cultural Gambia (the) Africa Lower Niumi And Upper Niumi Districts And Banjul Municipality

James Island and the related sites on the Gambia River provide exceptional testimony to the different facets of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The river formed the first trade route into the interior of Africa and became an early corridor for the slave trade. The sites were directly and tangibly associated with the beginning and the conclusion of the slave trade, retaining its memory related to the African diaspora.

The property consists of seven separate sites: the whole of James Island, the remains of a Portuguese chapel and a colonial warehouse in the village of Albreda, the Maurel Frères Building in the village of Juffureh, the remains of a small Portuguese settlement of San Domingo, as well as Fort Bullen and the Six-Gun Battery, which are located in three different districts in Gambia. Fort Bullen and the Battery are at the mouth of the Gambia River, while James Island and the other sites are some 30 km upstream. Albreda, Juffureh and San Domingo are contained within a large buffer zone, which stretches 12 km along the coastline of the Gambia River, extending some 500 m inland from the high-water line. James Island is a small island (0.3 ha) in the middle of the Gambia River, which made it a strategic place from which to control the waterway.

The original structures comprise the fort itself, the slave house, the governor's kitchen, the blacksmith's shop and a store, all now in ruins. The fort is situated in the middle of this low island and is vulnerable to flooding by the tidal waters. Albreda, a Mandingo village on the north bank of the river, is surrounded by agricultural land and is part of the buffer zone, but it contains two buildings that are included in the inscription. The chapel, built by the Portuguese in the late 15th century, is in ruins. Just 30 m to the west of the chapel is a free-standing wall, which is contemporaneous with the church. The Compagnie Française d'Afrique Occidentale Building, at the water's edge near the wharf, is a two-storey building with an adjacent warehouse. The ground floor served as a shop and store for goods and the top floor as a residence.

Juffureh, a typical Mandingo village, consists of traditional buildings, family compounds surrounded by woven fences, and small public open spaces. The Maurel Frères Building was constructed around 1840 by the British and was later used as a warehouse by a Lebanese trader named Maurel. Now it is a small museum on the Atlantic Slave Trade in the Senegambia.

San Domingo, 1 km east of Albreda, was a colonial settlement first established by the Portuguese in the late 15th century. It used to contain gardens, a church, a cemetery, and a well;today only ruins of a small house remain, built from lateritic stone and lime mortar. Close by there are remains of the former English settlement of Jillifree.

Six-Gun Battery was completed in 1821 in Bathurst, founded in 1816, now Banjul, on Saint Mary Island. The Battery consists of six 24-pounder guns, installed on rails, and protected by a large parapet made from stone and lime mortar. Fort Bullen is at the end of Barra Point, opposite the city of Banjul, on the north bank of the river at the point where it meets the ocean. The fort is protected from the sea by a defensive wall of stone and boulders. The site is close to the Banjul-Barra ferry landing. The fort buildings include the Old Rest House built from mud, the residence of the Travelling Commissioner of the colonial administration at the beginning of the century.

The area of the Gambia River has long been inhabited. The territory was under the rule of the Kingdom of Kaabu, an offshoot of the Mali Empire (c . 1200-1867), and the Jollof Kingdom (c . 1300-1500). Kaabu played an important role in Atlantic-oriented trade before Europeans arrived, being in contact with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, as well as the Arabs (from 1000 CE). The Portuguese reached the Senegambia between 1446 and 1456, when searching for the sea route to India. In the 16th century, English ships ventured into the Gambia region, and by the end of the century the Dutch also arrived. Slaves became another trading item, especially in the 18th century, until slavery was abolished.