Simon White has painted the wrong picture of Gambia

I was interested to read Simon White’s article in last week’s magazine extolling the virtues of the Gambia as a place to buy a property and holiday.

For a start he argues that the temperature never rises above 34°C? Actually, it easily rises well over 40°C. Empty beaches? Some of them are but others are covered with bumpsters – the young men who sell themselves to middle-aged women and fuel a rampant sex tourism industry.

Muslims and Christians inter-marry? This article makes it sound like this is something common. In two years of living in the Gambia I never saw it. Sure, Gambians are tolerant people, but this is painting a picture that I failed to see any evidence of.

Speaking of painting a picture that doesn’t exist, White claims that the president and government are well loved by the people.

The 10-year figure is a little off. President Yahya Jammeh, who is piling up titles like the late Idi Amin, has been in power for 16 years after he took over the country in a coup.

The locals have nothing bad to say in casual conversation because dissenters have a history of disappearing.

Just look into the state of journalism in the country, or rather, the lack of it.

And paradise? Is paradise the kind of place where life expectancy is around 50 years and children die of malaria?

Sure, you can buy land cheaply and live rather comfortably, but don’t kid yourself. This is no long-lost Eden.

Queen Victoria called the Gambia a quaint little piece of paradise too. She never set foot inside its borders and she made the statement shortly after a time when half the missionaries and soldiers who travelled there didn’t return.

White’s question at the end of the article that the Gambia sounds too good to be true has an obvious answer – it is too good to be true.
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