Our Visit to Kunte Kinte's Home
"Knowledge of history can be the first step away from anger and bitterness. Truth leads to understanding. Understanding and forgiveness lead to reconciliation and healing."
Words from the Memorial Story Wall Plaque at the Alex Haley Memorial, Annapolis, Maryland.
This is pretty much the only visual marker that lets you know where you are. Otherwise, Juffureh looks very much like many other small villages.
Even with all the attention the village receives from tourists, it is still very rural and very poor.
I was disheartened to see that the Kinte Family has not been provided for as Alex Haley had originally intended.
This is Binta Kinte's sister, who took over as family matriarch after Binta died. She will come out to meet visitors (as our guide invited her to do), and sit with them as the guide tells the story of the little boy who was taken away by the slave catchers. He also shares a little history of the family that was left here grieving for their lost son.
If a picture is worth a thousand words then this one sums up my feelings about this chapter in our history books. As I mentioned before, there is a range of emotions one goes through when thinking about all of this; even more when seeing it up close and personal. I kept looking at my husband, a native Gambian man, to see his reactions, trying to read his expressions as he came face to face to what is more than just history for him. This happened in his country, to his ancestors here in The Gambia. But I did not see anger or bitterness. Thank God he is a Christian, and what I saw was forgiveness.
Somewhere along the way I read or heard that Alex Haley had the original village moved from deeper in the interior to this location by the river. But since returning home, I have not been able to find any documentation that says this is true.
This is a picture of Binta Kinte that was on the wall of the village gathering place. She is the 7th generation Kinte relative that Haley originally met when he made his journey up the Gambia River. She died a few years ago.
She will gladly let you take her picture but she didn't actually talk. The guides do all the talking. Donations are welcome (and expected). I didn't take many pictures of other areas in the village and some of the people we saw, because they all expected to be given money. It was kind of sad and I wished I could give them all we had!