Easter Sunday is one of the highlights of the year for Gambian Christians, and Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays.
|2019||19 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|22 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
Gambia has nearly two million people, about 90 percent of whom are Muslim, eight percent Christian, and two percent followers of traditional African religions. Most of the Christians live in the western and southern parts of the country, and most of them are Roman Catholic. There are also significant numbers of Protestants, Baptists, and Evangelical groups, however.
Many Christians from different denominations will show unity at Easter time in attempting to display the Gospel to their neighbours. In Gambia, there is relative peace between Muslims and Christians and freedom to express one’s faith, so this does not usually cause any problem.
Christians will attend church or mass on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as in other parts of the world, and some will fast during Lent leading up to the Easter season, when they break the fast and feast instead. Church services will tend to differ in that they may have traditional drumming and singing, multiple languages being used, and attendees donning very colourful “Easter clothes.”
Unique Easter time customs in Gambia include: egg-rolling contests, throwing “holy water” on people that was previously blessed at church, and cooking “naan buru,” a bread made from rice flour and the baobab fruit. Additionally, some continue a tradition called “The Hunt,” in a boy dresses up as “the boogie man” and leads a group of kids around, who sing, dance, and beat on drums.
Should you be in Gambia around Easter time, here are some ideas on what to do:
- Attend Easter mass or church services on Sunday. And on Easter Monday, you may wish to join in the annual Easter March. Around 500 people take part, hailing from different Christian denominations and parachurch groups. An Easter message will be given during the march, and participants will sing, pray, pass out Easter tracts, and share the meaning of Easter with those they meet.
- Explore Banjul, the capital city of Gambia. The weather is very pleasant in this coastal town during April, and the waters of nearby beaches are warm as well. In town, you can visit the National Museum, the “Old Town,” and various markets and souvenir shops.
- Explore the highly diverse eco-systems of the River Gambia. Stop by at Kiang West National Park or at Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve for an up-close look at the wildlife. You will see hippos in the river, monkeys and bird life in the trees lining it, and leopards and hyenas along the shore.
Easter in Gambia is an ideal time for local Christian minorities to display their faith, and to tourists, it is an ideal time to learn of Gambian culture and traditions.