The Gambia (S2.07)

S02E07 The Gambia Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast we’ll be talking about the Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland. Cutting a small sliver out of the Western coastline of Senegal, the Gambia is one of just a handful of nations on earth to share a border with just one country. The entirety of the country surrounds its namesake the Gambia River, with the border running parallel to both banks of the river inland for about 250 km. Gambia’s population of around 2 million is largely impoverished. It’s GDP is ranked at 167th out of 188 countries around the world, and like much of West Africa, it’s history has been impacted heavily by the slave trade. Having gained its independence in 1965 from the British empire, the Gambia has come to rely on its growing reputation as a tourist destination, and recently made headlines following a political power struggle between presidential candidates.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

Table of Contents:

[02:01]  Early exploration and the Stone Circles
[05:52] Influence of Islam and trade
[07:14] Mali and Songhai Empires
[09:43] Mandinka culture and scary masks
[18:07] Arrival of Europeans
[21:35] Start of trans-Atlantic slave trade
[26:15] First permanent European settlement
[26:55] Royal African Company founded in London
[30:26] Niall visits Nemban (clip)
[31:24] English and French vie for control
[35:01]The English liberalise the slave trade
[37:49] Pirate taking everything not nailed down
[39:20] Francis Moore’s reports
[42:32] The man who returned from slavery
[46:52] “Roots”
[49:59] Interview with tourguide
[53:24] Decline of the Royal African Company and searching for Timbuktoo
[55:38] Abolition of the slave trade and colony formation
[58:50] A colony for free slaves
[1:02:00] The kora and storytelling
[1:03:50] Setting the boundaries
[1:06:05] 20th Century, evolving colony and the world wars
[1:14:02] After the war… voting for all!
[1:16:45] Green Revolution and the PPP
[1:20:00] An awful flag
[1:22:32] An attempted coup and Senegambia
[1:29:32] A new character enters the stage: Jammeh
[1:39:42] Jammeh’s home town
[1:44:32] The Magic Presidential Powers – “hard on AIDS, hard on witches”
[1:47:56] 2016 Election kerfuffle
[1:50:25] A new president elected
[1:55:43] Food, wildlife, tourism and sport

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Photographs of Kenyaleng women in various roles, exhibiting distinctive dress

The Kankurang mask – associated with circumcision rituals

Map showing the fort on James Island/Kunta Kinteh Island from Juffreh, the Gambia

The West African Frontier Force fought in the First World War

The original flag of the Gambia, which we all think is pretty terrible

Music you heard was largely from field recordings by our friend Niall Ó Laoighaire (who is also responsible for most of the photos above, you may also want to listen to music from the following sources:

A massive thanks to John Keating and Lorraine Mounsey, two of the backers of our recent Kickstarter Campaign – thank you for making Season 2 possible. And special thanks this week to Niall Ó Laoighaire for his research in the Gambia, providing the photos above and some audio that you heard. Thanks too to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.

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Cuba: Part 1 (S2.06A)

S02E06a: Cuba (part 1) Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast we’ll be talking about Cuba, an island in the Caribbean Ocean, just 90 miles south of the US state of Florida. Cuba is home to over 11 million inhabitants, and is the second-largest island in the Caribbean after Hispanola. The country has been subject to numerous territorial disputes and conflicts throughout its long and complex history, but finally emerged into independence in 1902. Following a turbulent revolution which spanned almost the entire 1950s, the Communist Party of Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, took control of the country in 1965. Although poverty is widespread, modern Cuba has an outstanding health care and education system and relations with the US are currently beginning to thaw after a protracted embargo that has been in place since the 1960s. Since Cuba has an awful lot of history, particularly in the 20th Century, we decided to split this episode into two parts: this is the first part.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland and – as a new voice for regular listeners – we’re joined in this episode by  Erin Barclay in the USA. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle).

Table of Contents:

[03:28]  Early History – Taíno and others
[05:50]  In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… and stuff happened
[09:25] Spanish Colony, ‘serfdom’ and Hatuey’s Uprising
[12:25] Slavery, Slave Rebellions and Pirates
[13:55] Trade monopolies and disputes
[19:00] Sugar boom and population imbalance, and Haitian influx
[20:39] Break
[21:10] “What could go wrong?” – just six revolutions
[27:52] Leopoldo O’Donnell and ‘The Year of the Lash’
[29:00 ] The Cuban Wars of Independence
[34:33] Sinking of the USS Maine and US entry into the war
[35:57] Break
[36:22] The Spanish-American War (and Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Rough Riders’)
[39:49] An independent Cuba, the Banana Wars and US Interventions
[43:45] World War 1 and, inter-war years and President Muchado
[46:42] Batista leads the Uprising of the Sergeants
[47:25] World War 2 ,Ernest Hemingway’s  ‘Crook Factory’, and the ‘St Louis Affair’
[50:58] America’s Playground and a handful of boring presidents
[53:52] Return of Batista: who needs democracy?

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.

Uruguay (S2.05)

S02E05: Uruguay Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Uruguay, a small but prosperous country sandwiched between two massive South American powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina. Widely considered one of the most politically stable and progressive countries in Latin America, Uruguay is home to just over 3.5 Million people and almost ten times as many sheep.

By land mass, it is the second-smallest nation in the region. After a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay declared its independence in 1825. The country then stabilised until the 1950s, when political turmoil ensued.
In more recent years, Uruguay escaped the recession that spread throughout South America in the early 2000s, and has since emerged as a bastion of democracy, progressive policies and free speech.  

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle).

Table of Contents:

[02:12] Intro – Homer Simpson and trampy birds
[08:30] Horny dirty Europeans and laissez faire gauchoing
[15:00] The inevitable British interest
[18:08] Artigas uncontemplative – not a calm guy
[27:23] If you liked Artigas you’ll love many endless wars forever
[33:46] Colorados vs Blancos – mob on mob violence
[40:39] Flores – Warlords don’t like peace, shoot your gauchos
[49:30] Jose Batlle – Mr 20th Century Uruguay
[57:54] WW2 – neutral, until it’s over and then they’re totally against Hitler
[1:06:08] Old timey radio show on Uruguay… is a bit dismissive of poor women
[1:14:46] Pacheqism – NOT to be confused with pacifism, too much torture for that
[1:16:30] Alive – plane crash and things only get worse from there
[1:23:28] South America in the 80s, how do you think it’s gonna go – “Politics is finished, I’m the leader.”
[1:30:38] Modern day – cannabis, football, music and good times

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Some of the music we used in this episode, and other music we recommend:

Thanks this week to Nick Ison and Eoin Byrne, who backed our Kickstarter campaign. Your t-shirts should be on their way to you already. Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.

Liberia (S1.06)

Audio: S1E06 Liberia

This week in 80 Days, we looked at Liberia, a small country on the west coast of Africa. Founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic and takes its name from the the Latin phrase meaning “Land of the Free.” Unfortunately, the country is best known for a long and bloody civil war that look place in the 1990s and 2000s, and more recently for the Ebola epidemic of 2014. The lush, rainforested country is just 700 kilometres or 430 miles north of the equator, and is bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) to its east. Today, the country is home to around 4.5 million inhabitants, although most are native Africans rather than the descendants of freed slaves. It maintains strong ties to America, and even has a flag that strongly resembles the flag of the US, although it has only one star and 11 stripes. Discussing Liberia are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

We thought when we researched Nauru previously that it was the most depressing place we would ever encounter. But we were wrong! Liberia is at the bottom end of most tables you want to be near the top in (GDP, communications infrastructure, life expectancy, infant mortality) and has suffered from all the plights you can expect in the region and more, all as a result of inequality, corruption, disease and civil war, but nonetheless, it has a unique story worth telling. Some sources which we found particularly useful in researching the episode were:

I would recommend you read, watch and listen to some of these sources if you want to learn more about the country than we could cram into the podcast.