Gambia Photo Album

The Monkey Carcass
Mansajong, 1992

I was visiting another volunteer in the village of Mansajong outside Basse, when we heard an excited crowd of people in the next compound and then a loud gunshot. A group of people had chased a monkey up a tree and then a hunter had shot it. Although monkeys are generally considered pests and it was no surprise that they had killed it, it was unusual to see one shot in the village and with so much excitement.

The scene that followed was even stranger. Some of the children tied a rope around the dead monkey's body and began dragging it through the cleared fields. Other children ran behind beating the carcass with sticks and throwing rocks at it. The picture shows this scene in action.

The general attitude of Gambians towards animals is strikingly different than that of most westerners. Animals are generally valued solely in terms of their utilitarian benefits, without much greater intrinsic significance than other everyday objects. During my service, two of my pet cats were killed by local children. While I learned to accept this attitude as a different perspective stemming from a different cultural and socio-economic lifestyle, I could never learn to like it. It seemed a stark contrast to the kindness and gentleness Gambians show their fellow human beings.

submitted by Andy Lyons

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