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Wandifa, our main agent in The Gambia

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Wandifa Saidykhan is one of the excellent Tourist Guides at the Atlantic Hotel, Banjul. Being a Tourist Guide means that he both knows the country well and is used to dealing with British people - he has a supply of Pageant cards to give to any tourists that express interest in our efforts.

Wandifa is now Pageant's main agent in The Gambia, but before he became our agent, he had already helped with school visits and unloading of containers when they arrived in The Gambia.

Links and Updates.

February 2006

Wandifa's extension

October 2006

Wandifa & Mariama's first son Muhammed Lamin (Mo Lamin)
February 2010 Wandifa & Mariama's second son Ebrima Ian (EB)
June 2014 Update  - new photo of EB
June 2014 Wandifa & Mariama's daughter Nyima

Wandifa lives in a large family compound in Serrekunda. [map] The photographs below show members of his extended family, taken during a visit in February 2004.

Wandifa and some of his large extended family pose in their village

some children from Wandifa's extended family pose in front of a bright blue house

Wandifa (back right) and members of his extended family

Some of the children in Wandifa's family group

Update February 2006 - Wandifa's new extension

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The compound, or family home, in the photos belongs to the family of our main agent Wandifa Saidykhan. He and his extended family - sisters, brothers, lots of children - all live here together in a big group. The living accommodation was very crowded and Wandifa had recently got married, so the family decided to extend their house. However, they had very little money, like most Gambians, and they could not afford to buy cement or sand to build their house - so, what could they do?

Like many Gambian villagers, they dug a big hole in their garden, and as they dug they mixed a little water in with the soil to make a thick, sticky mud of what the masons know is just the right texture. The mud was made into blocks with a special mould - they only had one mould, so they could only make one block at a time - and the blocks were then left to bake in the hot sun.   When the blocks had baked hard - it takes about two days to bake a batch - they were used like large bricks to build the walls of the new part of the house, with a much runnier mud mixture being used to stick them together. 

You can see the hole that has been dug in the garden, the lines of blocks and the men building the walls in the photos below -

hole in garden

the blocks drying

the blocks drying

<< hole in garden

building the walls

building the walls (2)

building the walls (1)

- and the new part of the house is shown in the last photo. When the blocks had been built into walls and the roof had been put on, the outside surface of the walls had a thin sand & cement 'skin' plastered onto it to protect it from the rain. The inside was also plastered in a similar way and then - hey presto - they had a new house built out of the mud from their garden!! Then the hole was filled up with rubbish and covered with soil so that they will have their garden back again. As long as they could get the outside protected by the time the rains started, everything should be fine. These mud-brick houses can last quite a long time - maybe 50 years or so - and most of the village houses are built like this.

general view of the extension

Click here for more information about block making.

<< general view of the extension

We wish Wandifa and his wife, Mariama, every happiness in their new home and look forward to visiting them in October 2006 - taking a suitable house-warming gift, of course!.

Update October 2006 - Wandifa's first son

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Pippa reports: "We visited Wandifa's compound and met his delightful wife, Mariama Fofana, her little sister, Sandy - and of course the new baby, Muhammed Lamin. A VERY new baby - only 5 days old when we saw him... Mariama was very pleased with the gifts we took her as 'housewarming' presents and we were thrilled to meet her and Muhammed Lamin - Pippa was allowed to hold him and he didn't cry at all! Mariama has brought Sandy from her home compound to be with her in her new home - we have found that this is quite a common practice when the bride moves to a new home some distance from her own village. Wandifa is quite obviously delighted with his family - and so he should be. We wish them all the very best for the future."


Mariama Sandy & Muhammed Lamin

Mariama, Sandy & Muhammed Lamin

Wandifa the proud father

Wandifa the proud father

Mariama & Muhammed Lamin

Mariama & Muhammed Lamin

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