A compound in Gambia means a collection of accommodations
round a centrally situated main residence, occupied by members
of the same family, or related by blood or marriage within a joint
fence. A compound usually comes into being because someone settles
to live on his own, for example as a result of the existence of
farmland. He buys, gets or inherits a piece of land and builds
a fence around it.
In the course of time a small house comes into being that is rebuild
into a larger house later. Children who get married settle within
the same fence, build a house fixed to it, or build their own
house somewhere else on the terrain.
The responsibility for the maintaining family co-operation and
communal co-operation is with the head of the household who is
usually the oldest male. The smaller parts of a compound are referred
to as sinkiro and dabada.
Like the one you will be inhabiting, compounds are the main style
of housing in The Gambia. Compounds generally consist of a wall
or fence enclosing several buildings that face an outdoor communal
area used for sitting, eating, doing laundry, playing, saying
prayers, and every other activity taking place outside.
Immediate families, such as a wife and her children, often occupy
individual buildings or parts of a building with separate entrances,
with the larger extended family sharing the compound as a whole.
Sometimes rooms or entire compounds are rented out to a small
or newly formed family.