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Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites

Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites

James Island and Related Sites present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the encounter between Africa and Europe along the River Gambia, a continuum stretching from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence. The site is particularly significant for its relation to the beginning of the slave trade and its abolition. It also documents early access to the interior of Africa.

Île Kunta Kinteh et sites associés

L’île James et les sites associés témoignent des principales époques et aspects de la rencontre entre l’Afrique et l’Europe le long du fleuve Gambie, un continuum qui s’étend de la période pré-coloniale et pré-esclavagiste à l’indépendance. Ce site est d’une importance toute particulière pour son association tant avec les débuts du commerce d’esclaves qu’avec son abolition. Il témoigne aussi des premières voies ouvertes vers l’intérieur de l’Afrique.

جزيرة جيمس والمواقع المتّصلة بها

تدلّ جزيرة جيمس والمواقع المتصلة بها على الحقبات الرئيسة وأوجه التقاء إفريقيا وأوروبا على طول نهر غامبيا، ما يشكّل مجموعةً متواصلة تمتدّ من الفترة التي سبقت الاستعمار والرقّ حتى الاستقلال. يرتدي هذا الموقع أهميةً خاصة لصلته ببدايات سوق الرقيق وبإلغائه في آن، وهو يشهد أيضاً على الطرق الأولى المؤدية إلى داخل إفريقيا.

source: UNESCO/ERI

詹姆斯岛及附近区域

詹姆斯岛及附近区域位于冈比亚河(the River Gambia)沿岸,为非洲与欧洲关系发展史提供了证据,其历史从前殖民地时代开始延续到前奴隶贸易时代,一直到冈比亚独立。这里与奴隶贸易的兴起及废除有着密切关系,同时还记录了早期伸向非洲大陆内陆的重要通道。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Остров Джеймс-Айленд и связанные с ним достопримечательности

Остров Джеймс-Айленд и связанные с ним достопримечательности – свидетельства основных периодов и аспектов африкано-европейских взаимоотношений на территориях вдоль реки Гамбия. Этот непрерывный процесс охватывает период от доколониальных и дорабовладельческих времен до обретения независимости. Объект особенно значим своими связями с началом работорговли и ее отменой. Остров и его достопримечательности также являются документальными свидетельствами раннего этапа проникновения европейцев вглубь Африки.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Isla James y sitios anejos

La Isla James y sus sitios conexos constituyen un testimonio de las principales épocas y facetas del encuentro entre África y Europa a lo largo del curso del río Gambia, desde el periodo anterior al esclavismo hasta la independencia del país, pasando por la época precolonial. El sitio posee un especial interés histórico por ser uno de los escenarios del inicio y la posterior abolición del comercio de esclavos, y debido a su papel de primera vía de acceso al interior del continente africano.

source: UNESCO/ERI

クンタ・キンテ島と関連遺跡群 
ジェームズ島はアフリカ西部を流れるガンビア川の中にある島。ガンビア川は、古くからの重要な通商路で、ジェームズ島と近隣のポルトガル人の教会遺跡や小住居地跡などの6遺跡は、ガンビア川沿いにアフリカとヨーロッパとが出合った時期や事実を如実に物語っている。前植民地時代や前奴隷時代から独立までの様相を読みとることができ、特に奴隷貿易の開始と廃止との関係や、アフリカ内部への接近ルートや移送方法を記録する遺跡は重要である。

source: NFUAJ

Kunta Kinteh Eiland en bijbehorende gebieden

Kunta Kinteh is een klein bewoond en versterkt eiland in de monding van de Gambia, die uitkomt in de Atlantische oceaan. Het eiland werd een van de eerste culturele uitwisselingszones tussen Afrika en Europa dankzij ontdekkingsreizigers en handelaren die een zeeroute naar India zochten. De Gambia rivier vormde de eerste handelsroute naar het binnenland van Afrika en was ook een vroege route van de slavenhandel. Het eiland en de bijbehorende gebieden getuigen van de belangrijkste periodes en facetten van de ontmoeting tussen Afrika en Europa langs de Gambia. Daarnaast is het gebied duidelijk verbonden met het begin en de afschaffing van slavenhandel.

Source: unesco.nl

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James Island and Related Sites © Niels Elgaard Larsen
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Kunta Kinteh Island is a small island in the Gambia River which joins the Atlantic Ocean. Its location in the middle of the river made it a strategic place to control the waterway. Visited by explorers and merchants in their search for a sea route to India it became one of the first cultural exchange zones between Africa and Europe. By 1456 the Island had been acquired by Portugal from local rulers and the construction of a fort began.

Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites form an exceptional testimony to the different facets and phases of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The River Gambia was particularly important forming the first trade route to the inland of Africa. The site was already a contact point with Arabs and Phoenicians before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century. The region forms a cultural landscape, where the historic elements are retained in their cultural and natural context. The properties illustrate all the main periods and facets of the various stages of the African-European encounter from its earliest moments in the 15th Century through the independence period.

The specific location of Kunta Kinteh Island and its Related Sites, at the mouth of the Gambia River, is a tangible reminder of the story of the development of the Gambia River as one of the most important waterways for trade of all kinds from the interior to the Coast and beyond. The specific, important role of the site in the slave trade, both in its propagation and its conclusion, makes Kunta Kinteh Island and it Related Sites an outstanding memory of this important, although painful, period of human history.   

The property includes Kunta Kinteh Island Fort and a series of sites associated with the early European occupation of the African continent. The ensemble has seven separate locations: the whole of Kunta Kinteh Island, the remains of a Portuguese Chapeland of a colonial warehouse (CFAO Building) in the village of Albreda, the Maurel Frères Building in the village of Juffureh, the remains of the small Portuguese settlement of San Domingo, as well as Fort Bullen and the Six-Gun Battery. Fort Bullen and the Six-Gun Battery are at the mouth of the Gambia River, whilst Kunta Kinteh Island and the other sites are some 30 km upstream.

The development of Kunta Kinteh Island differed greatly from the many other forts, castles, and trading posts found in other parts of West Africa in that the main focus of the Kunta Kinteh Island site was the control of the hinterland and its riches rather than control of the coast and the trade that passed along it.

The Six-Gun Battery (1816) and Fort Bullen (1826), located on both sides of the mouth of the River Gambia came much later than Kunta Kinteh Island and were built for the specific intent of thwarting the trade in slaves once it had become illegal in the British Empire after the passing of the Abolition Act in 1807. They are the only known defensive structures in the region to have been built specifically to stop slaving interests. The other fortifications of the region (including Kunta Kinteh Island), were constructed as a means of enhancing and controlling the trade in slaves (and commodities) rather than stopping it. These two military positions allowed the British to take full control of the River Gambia, eventually paving the way for the establishment of colonial government, a period well-illustrated by many colonial buildings in Banjul and the Governor’s Rest House at Fort Bullen. Finally, Fort Bullen shows evidence of its re-use during the Second World War (1939-1945) as a strategic observatory and artillery post. This later period illustrates yet another European rivalry that spread to the African continent.

Criterion (iii): Kunta Kinteh Island and related sites on the River Gambia provide an exceptional testimony to the different facets of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to 20th centuries. The river formed the first trade route to the inland of Africa, being also related to the slave trade.

Criterion (vi): Kunta Kinteh Island and related sites, the villages, remains of European settlements, the forts and the batteries, were directly and tangibly associated with the beginning and the conclusion of the slave trade, retaining its memory related to the African Diaspora.

Integrity

The six parts of the serial nomination together present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the Afro-European encounter along the River Gambia, a continuum that stretched from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to the period of independence and in particular to the beginning and the abolition of the slave trade, as well as documenting the functions of the early access route to the inland of Africa. The six sites encompass all the key remains.

All the sites except the CFAO and Maurel Frères Buildings are ruins. The CFAO Building has been restored and provided with adequate sea defence. The Maurel Frères Building was restored in 1996 and is in a good state of conservation. The Portuguese chapel and San Domingo are in a state of ruins, but these have been stabilized, with the most endangered parts reinforced during 2000.

The isolated position of Kunta Kinteh Island in the river has conserved its setting to the present day. Fort Bullen is also bordered by the river on one side and a large open tract of land on the other, naturally serving as a buffer zone and helping to preserve its setting. It is in a relatively good state of conservation, though the wall on the seaward side is suffering from sea erosion. Parts have collapsed and 20 metres were rebuilt in 2000. The Six-Gun Battery is in a good state of conservation. The ruined sites need on-going maintenance if they are not to deteriorate over time.

Authenticity

Kunta Kinteh Island Fort was subject to destruction on numerous occasions. Since the last time by the French, in 1779, it has remained a ruin with only minor attempt at consolidation and minimizing the effects of sea erosion. The Island is a landmark for all concerned with the slave trade, especially the local community and Africans in the Diaspora. Apart from a short period of re-use during the Second World War, Fort Bullen and the Six-Gun Battery were similarly abandoned in the late 19th century. At San Domingo there are very few visible remains, but the area has considerable potential for archaeological research. The ruins that convey the Outstanding Universal Value are extremely vulnerable to erosion. At the time of inscription the ruined sites were seen to be part of a wider cultural landscape that needed protection in order to protect the setting of the sites and to allow them to be understood. 

Protection and management requirements

Kunta Kinteh Island, Fort Bullen and all the significant historic buildings in the Albreda-Juffureh complex are legally protected as National Monuments (1995) under the National Council for Arts and Culture Act, 1989 (revised 2003). The proclamation instrument also establishes a buffer zone for all the sites that should be kept free of incompatible developments with adverse effects on their setting. As National Monuments the historic structures are under the custodianship of the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) who are responsible for their conservation and upkeep. Day to day management rests with the Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the NCAC, who employ site attendants and caretakers. The Six-Gun Battery is located within the State House grounds and is protected by the Office of the President. The sites also have a 5-year management plan that sets out what is acceptable at the individual sites and at national level. This plan was prepared as a result of the joint effort of ten different national and local organisations, supported by the Africa 2009 programme.

The financial resources required for the management and maintenance of the sites are relatively scarce, and come mainly from entrance fees. Every three months, the Head of the Museums and Monuments section of the NCAC performs a physical inspection of the sites. This condition assessment is carried out with a representative of the local stakeholders and, if possible, with a local guide. A brief report is prepared after each visit and these are summarized in an annual report.

Since 1996 the Gambia Government, through its Department of State for Tourism and Culture, has instituted an annual event called the ‘International Roots Homecoming Festival’. Considered to be a “heritage week”, the main aim is to attract visitors from the African Diaspora. The festival usually devotes a daylong spiritual pilgrimage to Kunta Kinteh Island and the Albreda-Juffureh area. To the visitors the property has symbolic and emotional significance, as a visit to Kunta Kinteh Island is a pilgrimage to their roots. As a piece of historical evidence, much can be learnt from the Island, and it already forms part of the history and social studies syllabus in Gambian schools.

The property contains very fragile ruins that need to be protected and conserved as the tangible elements that convey Outstanding Universal Value. There needs to be ongoing maintenance monitoring and conservation to allow these ruins to have the best chance of survival and be robust enough to withstand the onslaughts of nature.