James Island

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The James Island Museum (Juffureh, Gambia)

Because it was so late in the day, we did not take the canoe ride over to James Island, but we did visit the museum. These pictures tell a lot of the story of slavery in The Gambia and West Africa. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you may be able to read some of the text on the displays (use your browser's "back" button to return to this page). James Island, like Goree in Senegal, was a holding point for captured slaves. There, they waited for the ships to collect them. Eventually, slavery was oulawed in West Africa and the British army moved in to enforce the new laws. The army kept watch from James Island and the coastline and captured (by force) many ships that still tried to come through to capture slaves, and ships that had already picked up slaves further up the coastline.


Description of James Island.

A model of James Island.

Some background on slavery in West Africa.

Artifacts of restraints and shackels used on the captives.

Bottom item is a whip.

Weapons they used

A chilling description of the "branding" process.

The first part of this text on the size of the slave trade says that the exact number of slaves captured in West Africa is unknown. Guesses to how many were shipped to the New World in the 3 centuries of the trade are between 10 to 15 million, and up to 100,000 per year at the height of the trade in the 18th Century.

This artist's rendering was almost life-size, and makes quite an impact.

This display describes the Armistad Revolt, with a drawing of the ship itself in the center, and the slave who led the revolt (bottom right).

This text describes what happened to the slaves re-captured from illegal slave ships after abolition. The area obscured by glare states that slavery was abolished in 1807, but trade continued through 1870 run by outlaws. These years were peak horrors because these ship captains risked the death penalty if caught, and cared less about their cargo than traders who operated when it was legal.

Here you can see the bottom part of the same text on recaptives.

At first I thought this ledger was listing slaves captured. But on closer look, it's actually listing slaves that were re-captured and taken to Sierre Leone.

Here you can see the detail of their names, sex, age and their country (which we consider to be their tribal origin with the very recognizable names of Mandinka and Jolah).

This display dipicts some of the horrors of slavery.

Outside the museum is this sculpture of a family with the man in chains. The baby is wrapped on the woman's back.

Here on the shore across from James Island, is the site of what was the the Albreda Trading Post, where captives were held, bartered for and sold, and then taken to the Island to await the various ships that would take them away. This area is now a national monument built by the English to commemorate the end of the slave trade in The Gambia.

This cannon is part of the monument. The structure on the left is part of what is left of the actual Albreda Trading Post building.

Another view of the Post. It was hard to get closer because of the brush.

Another view of the monument.

This sculpture (also seen on the previous page) was dedicated to Juffureh by the Kunte Kinte Festival held by the Alex Haley Foundation.