Carabane is an island and a village located in the extreme south-west of Senegal, in the mouth of the Casamance River. The earliest known inhabitants of the island were the Jola, the ethnic group which is still the most populous on the island. Carabane was once a regional capital, but the village has since become so politically isolated from the rest of the country that it no longer fits into any category of the administrative structure.
About Carabane in brief
Carabane is an island and a village located in the extreme south-west of Senegal, in the mouth of the Casamance River. The island was once considered an arid location where no useful plants were likely to grow, but it now supports several types of fruit tree. The earliest known inhabitants of the island were the Jola, the ethnic group which is still the most populous on the island. Carabane was once a regional capital, but the village has since become so politically isolated from the rest of the country that it no longer fits into any category of the administrative structure decreed by the Senegalese government. The literacy rate is approximately 90%. Students attend a primary school on the Island, but must move at least as far as Elinkine to continue their studies. The rice cycle plays a central economic and religious role in the lives of the population. Palm oil and palm wine are very popular and traditional in the area. The fishery has long been dominated by artisan fishing, but broader economic possibilities have been exploited since the early 20th century. Since World War II, the population has gradually declined for a variety of reasons including periods of drought, theCasamance Conflict and, more recently, the sinking of the ferry Joola in 2002. Much of the village’s ability to trade and receive tourists was lost until 2014, when MV Aline Sitoe Diatta resumed ferry services to the island, although there have been attempts to cultivate a tourism industry on theIsland, the inhabitants have been reluctant to participate.
The name Karabane could be connected to the Wolof word karabanish, which means ‘who speaks a lot’ or possibly the Portuguese words casam and acaba, which mean ‘house’ and ‘fin’ respectively. According to other sources, the name comes from karamam, which Means ‘the other side of the river’ or ‘the place where the houses are finished,’ or a Latin derivation through French Cabane. With a total area of 57 square kilometres, the island is the last major area of Senegal to be named after a French or Portuguese explorer. The population of Carabanes is estimated to be around 2,000 people, with the majority of whom live in the village of Sédhiou, the capital of the Ziguinchor Region. It has a tropical climate, cycling between a dry season and a wet season. Various species of fish are plentiful around the island,. but there are very few mammals. The island has a wide variety of birds, but there is no sign of any mammals. The Portuguese were active in the region from the 16th century onwards; however, they did not linger on \”Mosquito Island\”, the mosquitoes and black flies convincing them to establish their trading post in the town of Ziguinchesor instead in 1645. The indigenous population was originally animist, but although the sacred groves and fetishes survive as cultural icons of Casamances.