‘Silafando - a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ The traditional method of greeting the village chiefs (Alkalo’s) and elders, The Gambia, West Africa – as used by ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush’ Expedition Team
I just wanted to post a reminder of how we approached each village on our walk around The Gambia and presented ourselves to the Alkalo (chief) and elders in the traditional manner of ‘Silafando’
Tea with the Alkalo’s:
All the village chiefs we met kindly permitted our raggle-taggle, road-weary team to turn up, unannounced, and pitch our small camp every evening.
To show respect, as strangers, when approaching the village chief, the Alkalo, we used the age-old tradition and protocol called ‘silafando’ (which translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey’). This is often a gift of a handful of bitter kola nuts - these walnut-sized nuts play an important role in the Gambian culture and traditional social life. The chief would then share the nuts with his most important village elders. They would break open and chew the nuts, which are valued for their pharmacological properties - they act as a natural stimulant and, apparently, an aphrodisiac!
Once the gift was accepted, we were warmly welcomed into the village and from that point on, everyone knows that you are there as a guest of the Alkalo. This means you are treated with respect as strangers in the village for the duration of your stay. And, if any of the villagers were to disrespect us as guests, then they would have the Alkalo to answer to, along with the shame it would bring to their family.
Image: Florio-2009 The Gambia, West Africa