Kenye-kenye Jamango is a Mandinka term which literally translates as Sand Dune Mosque. This referred to a makeshift mosque located on the sand dunes overlooking Gunjur beach about 1km from the fishing centre.
Mosque has a fascinating history and is visited by Muslims and scholars on pilgrimage from all over The Gambia and West Africa. The mosque, associated grounds, buildings and rocks are all regarded as sacred because the site provided sojourn for the Kalifat’ul Tijanniyya Sheikh Umar Taal (Leader of the Tijaaniyya Sect in West Africa) during his Islamisation mission in West Africa.
Sheikh Umar’s pilgrimage to Mecca between 1828 and 1831 and other Islamic centres in the Middle East, made him famous. News of his greatness and erudition preceded him on his return trip to Mecca through Cairo, Bonnu, Sokoto and Mandina, before he reached Futa Jallon in 1840. Sheikh Umar fought paganism and challenged the political and social order of the old Muslim theocracies, replacing them with a new branch of Militant Islam. His Jihads, or “Holy Wars”, imposed his authority from Senegal to Nigeria and attracted thousands of disciples from all over West Africa, including Aku, or freed slaves of African origin, in Sierra Leone. His military campaigns did nothing to improve his relations with the European powers who were colonising the area at the time, and who saw the creation of a vast Islamic entity formed through territorial conquest as a threat. However, Sheikh Umar was very diplomatic whenever he met Europeans, informing them that a large peaceful Islamic state would only improve commerce.
Sheikh Umar visited The Gambia during the latter part of his life when he had turned to peaceful Islamisation as a means of attracting more converts. He stayed in several places in The Gambia, including Banjul and Cape Point, before moving further south to Gunjur. Here, he stayed for longer than anywhere else in the county and prayed in the shade of trees and large boulders, thus making the site sacred.
People visit the Sand Dune Mosque to pray for life changing situations ranging from marital status to reversing the plight of barren women for childbearing.