Languages and Traditions

In Gambia the common language is English, used besides the tribe languages, from which the most spoken one is Mandinka. Below you will find a couple words in Mandinka:

  • Yes = Ha

  • No = Haanii

  • Thank you = Abaraka

  • Go away = Taa

  • Goodmorning = E Soma

  • Goodevening = E Woeloera

  • What is your name? = I tong die?

  • Beautiful = Njiemaa

  • Enjoy diner = Domoro Diema

  • Cheers = Eidijah

  • Hello = Salaam Aleikum

  • Saying hello back = Aleikum Salaam

  • How are you? = E Beddie?

  • Very well = Nbe Djang

  • By the will of God = Inshallah


Your guide from GambiaSafari can arrange a real African cooking lesson for you. This workshop will take place at the home of a Gambian woman. She will first take you to the market to buy the ingredients and give you an explanation about how to use certain ingredients. After that you start preparing and cooking the meal. You will eat this meal at the compound. Food is very important in the Gambian family life. It is seen as a moment to come together and to share. The Gambian kitchen is rich of spices and flavors and a lot of dishes are still prepared on a wooden fire.

Domoro Diema! Enjoy your meal!

Local traditions

In Gambia it is very important to shake people’s hands, but this has to be your right hand. Just saying hello is not a common thing in Gambia. When people run into each other they almost make a ritual of saying hello by informing how family members are doing, friends, neighbors and so on. Gambia is an Islamic country and even though there is a lot of freedom, the people appreciate it when you will respect the local traditions. For example, it is not respectful when you have eye contact for a long time in a conversation. It can be seen as rude. In Gambia the left hand is seen as unhygienic, so please give or take things with your right hand and eat with your right hand if you are invited for dinner at someone’s home.

To show your love for each other on the streets is not socially accepted. Of course you can walk hand in hand, but to kiss or to cuddle really intimate is not common.

In comparison to Gambian standards, we Westerners can be shockingly direct. In Gambia people like to talk in circles and a short or negative answer will always be wrapped up nicely and explained in details. If you ask a personal question and the other person doesn’t want to answer or you notice that they feel uncomfortable, please respect this and start talking about something else. Do not push them to give an answer. Also please note that it is not very convenient to talk about the politics in Gambia, so be careful with this.


Swimming clothes are meant for the pool or the beach, so please do not go to the market or on safari in your swimming outfit, how lovely it might be. Also, when you sit down it is not decent to show the other person your sole. The sole is seen as unhygienic so they can take this as an insult.

Despite the above, please know that Gambian people are a very friendly and welcoming folk, and they highly appreciate it if you at least try to respect their habits.