Welcome to the Smiling Coast – living in the Gambian Ghetto

Bas Ackermann

Creative Bas Ackerman from The Hague presents a documentary film of his TV series about the African country Gambia. It is increasingly popular as a holiday resort, thanks to the combination of sun, sea, safari and cheap sex. Despite the ‘booming’ tourist industry, the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. The film follows twelve young Gambians on the fringe of the ‘informal economy’.

Every year, more than 150,000 tourists find their way to Gambia. Apart from the warm climate and exotic animals, cheap sex attracts numerous fortune-hunters. The destination is especially popular among single European women of a certain age. Many of the tourists stay in luxury resorts, far away from the poverty that most Gambians experience on a daily basis. Fifty years after its independence, Gambia is still one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Ironically, many poor young people live at a stone’s throw from the expensive hotels and resorts. They try to benefit from the omnipresent tourist industry in different ways, while having their eyes on Europe and its prosperity. Will they wait for a better future in Gambia, or endeavour to reach the prosperity of the West?


Bas Ackermann
Country of production
70 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
+U-U – Upperunder / State of Mic