#Article (Archive)

Race against time: Let’s save Kunta Kinteh Island!

Mar 13, 2020, 11:27 AM

(Thursday, 12th March 2020 Issue)

Kunta Kinteh Island is one of the most visited tourist attractions in The Gambia. The island which sits on the mouth of the River Gambia annually welcomes a number of visitors, who descend on the island to see remnants of the infamous Atlantic slave trade. It was in 2003, when the historical island was awarded World Heritage status thanks to the significant role it played during the transatlantic slave trade.

In recent years, the century-old historical relic is on the spotlight for a number of reasons. But one important attention is continues to gain these day is its fast depleting nature due to sea erosion.

As reported in Wednesday’s edition of The Point, the National Assembly Select Committee on Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports recently visited the site as part of their oversight functions to visit institutions under its purview. On arrival what they saw on the ground leaves much to be desired. The threats of sea erosion are visible prompting lawmakers to amplify their calls for concerned authorities to act fast to save the island from collapse/sinking.  

We therefore re-echo that call for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) to act quickly and put in place contingency measures to put confront the sea erosion.

Kunta Kinteh Island is our national treasure. It is therefore a race against time to rescue our historical island from sinking.

We should always bear in mind that historical sites are national assets. Once they are damaged, they are irrecoverable. More importantly, countries must take a special interest in the preservation of historical sites. We should take a cue from countries like Senegal, Ghana and Egypt, which put a lot of emphasis in protecting and restoring historical relics.

It is clear now that the sea erosion threatening the island is an indication that climate change is real. The rise in global sea levels is forcing wave energy closer to the shore and cliff faces, leading to increased rates of coastal erosion in areas where cliffs are composed of soft rocks.

“You don’t stumble upon your heritage. It’s there, just waiting to be explored and shared.”

Robbie Robertson