n African Renaissance - 'We align and rhythm the toubabs' : the strategies of beach hustlers

Volume 13, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


This study investigates the economic strategies that young Gambians employ to achieve their aspirations of fulfilling socio-cultural obligations. In particular, the study explores the economic activities of young Gambians who engage in diverse informal economic activities in the fringes of the Gambia's tourism sector to provide for themselves and their families. Known as beach hustlers, they consist of small entrepreneurs, principally peddlers, vendors and others who provide informal services with the aim of making a livelihood directly from tourists. Whilst existing research tends to mostly focus on the activities of beach hustlers who engage in transactional sexual activities with tourists as a means of earning a living or getting an opportunity to travel, this study focuses on the strategies of those of those who resort to alternative economic strategies.

Drawing on data collected from multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2013 and 2014 in Kololi, the country's main tourism hotspot on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the study uses the cases of two 'beach hustlers' to shed light on hustling strategies of young Gambians. The study discusses how 'beach hustlers' take advantage of the Gambia's booming tourism industry by engaging in diverse informal economic activities. This study shows that majority of young Gambians who find it increasingly difficult to migrate to the West pursue local livelihoods to fulfil their aspirations of social and economic advancement. The study further shows that the strategies young Gambians employ are influenced by the structural constraints and opportunities that appear in specific space-time conditions. By doing so, this study contributes to the literature on the economic strategies that young urban youths employ to achieve their aspirations.

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