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The Kunta Kinte dynasty is not in shambles! Interview with a member of the Juffureh family
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The Kunta Kinte dynasty is not in shambles! Interview with a member of the Juffureh family

Kunta Kinte was one of the 98 slaves brought to America aboard the ship Lord Ligonier in 1767.  Despite many years in bondage, he never lost his connection to his African heritage. Kunta’s struggle is forever part of the black culture. 

Is the Kunta Kinte dynasty in shambles? How united are the descendants in The Gambia and USA? We decided to interview Lamin Jatta, a proud descendant and President of the Kunta Kinte Family Foundation. 

What’s On-Gambia: How are you related to Kunta Kinte? 

Lamin:  I’m a direct descendant of Kunta Kinte. My grandmother is Binta Kinte, she is the seventh generation sister of Kunta Kinte and she was the one who narrated all the story to Alex Haley in 1967 when he came to The Gambia to trace his relatives and finally wrote the book Roots. 

Is the family in Juffureh still in touch with the descendants in the USA? 

I’m in touch with them and very much involved. Some of them live in Tennessee, and some in Maryland. Alex Haley’s brother, George was the US ambassador to The Gambia. 

How often do they visit The Gambia? 

At the moment, the last person who visited was George and that was during his time as ambassador. Now I am trying to mobilize the young descendants to come together and keep the Kunta Kinte legacy alive. 

I created a non-profit foundation and it is called Kunta Kinte Family Foundation.  The whole family is involved, both in The Gambia and USA. Our plan is to build a research center, to provide clean drinking water for the people of Juffureh, support school children and if possible build a health center.


How big is the Kunta Kinte family in The Gambia? 

We have a very big extended family and we’re scattered all over the country. But we always gather during special occasions like Koriteh, Tobaski, naming ceremonies and weddings. 

Who is in charge at Juffureh now? 

Since my grandmum, Binta Kinta’s death in 2004, Mariama Fofana is now responsible for welcoming guests and narrating the history to them. 

Do the family generate enough money from visitors? 

Right now, the family generates no income from tourist visits. This is why we created the foundation to help the family and the people of Juffureh. 

How involved are you in the Roots Homecoming Festival? 

We’re not directly involved, but we try to show solidarity. Many people are still finding it difficult to understand why the festival is not based in Juffureh. 

They use the family to advertise but the people of Juffureh are left out in the celebrations. 

Our foundation is thinking of organizing an African-American Cultural Reconnection Festival. The aim is to bring black people around the world to The Gambia to spend time in Juffureh and the Kunta Kinte Island.  Interact and experience each other’s culture. 

What does Kunta Kinte mean to you? 

He means everything to me in my life. I want to keep the story alive and pass it to the next generation like how it was passed to me. 

When did you move to the US? 

I was living in London and in 2007 I moved to the US. 

How often do you visit The Gambia? 

I am planning to visit early next year to see the family; I also intend to meet the president and the minister of tourism and the staff at the Gambia Tourism Board. 

Tell us about the documentary that you are about to release? 

The documentary is out to tell the world that the Kunta Kinte descendants are still in The Gambia. We have already premiered it at different locations in the US and now it is set to be released early next year. 

Lot of people don’t believe in Kunta Kinte and I think the documentary would help in convincing the critics that Alex Haley’s story is true. 

Any final words? 

I am looking forward to meeting the president and see how best his government can help in promoting and honouring the Kunta Kinteh legacy. 



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