“Do You Need A Fish?”

A Gambian moment.

We’re in an extremely dilapidated taxi that has stalled at the roadside, just a stone’s throw from Tanji village’s main taxi hub. Before getting into the car, my wife and I had to haggle for ten minutes with the drivers assembled there under the dull gaze of the village idiot. And then we were accused of rich white chauvinism by an angry man whose whole family the assembled drivers forced to change cars because of us. But now the car has stalled, and no amount of joining the two wires dangling under the wheel will get it to go.

All the windows are open in the afternoon heat. The driver is filling gas into the vehicle from a battered plastic container. There is a smell of fish and gasoline.

Tanji is a fishing harbour where the catch is smoked, dried and packed. While we wait for the car to possibly get going again, a white-bearded fellow in a pill-box hat comes up to my window, dignified and in no hurry, and asks me, “Do you need a fish?”.

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  1. #1 Chris Ho-Stuart
    November 26, 2010

    Does it have a bicycle?

  2. #2 Art
    November 26, 2010

    As a person who keeps a couple of tinned kippered herring and lifeboat crackers in his truck, I never know when I will be caught out in the sticks and need a snack, I can certainly appreciate that one might ‘need a fish’.

  3. #3 JR
    November 26, 2010

    Well, did you?

  4. #4 Birger Johansson
    November 26, 2010

    A very simple post-WWII Citroen would probably provide more reliable transportation.
    -Do they have any plaque dedicated to Kunta Kinte? Or would that be upriver?
    Is there any remaining mangrove forest left at the coast? Good for protection if any of the tectonically active regions across the sea sends a tsunami (fortunately West Africa has no active plate margins).
    Also, the HIV variant there in the west may have crossed species lines independently of the HIV variants in Central/East Africa, courtesy of the intense hunting/bushmeat trade.

  5. #5 Elena Karadjova
    November 26, 2010

    Did you manage to cross over to Senegal?

  6. #6 Imogen Quest
    November 26, 2010

    He was clearly a relative of Miss Prothero from A Child’s Christmas in Wales… “Would you like something to read?”

  7. #7 Phillip IV
    November 26, 2010

    “Do you need a fish?”

    “The car is broken down and you offer me a fish? Do I look like Richard Dean Anderson?”

  8. #8 Martin R
    November 26, 2010

    I declined the offer of fish.

    In Kololi, I actually passed by Kunta Kinte St.!

    No Senegal. It was exhausting just to move around the Banjul area because of the constant attempts to sell us stuff.

  9. #9 Elena Karadjova
    November 26, 2010

    I know what you mean. We had a similar experience in Cabo verde. But all in all I think it is a beautiful piece of Africa;-)

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