Arts, Culture & Media

Mdungu's 'The Gambian Space Program'

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Benoit Martiny and Thijs Van Milligen, members of the band Mdungu. (Photo: April Peavey)

There is a bit of space history in the Geo Quiz.

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During the heyday of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA set up emergency landing strips around the globe.

NASA called them transoceanic abort landing sites.

These emergency runways were built in France, Morocco and Senegal among other countries.

We want you to name another country in West Africa that once had a Shuttle landing site.

It is one of Africa's tiniest countries and it borders Senegal.

Citizens there recall seeing special bright Xenon lights near this nation's capital, Banjul whenever a NASA Shuttle was launched or coming in for a landing.

The lights were turned on just in case a shuttle had trouble finding its way back to Earth.

So, can you name this country?

Gambia is the answer to the Geo Quiz.

Between 1987 and 2005, Gambia had an emergency landing strip available to NASA.

It was there in case a NASA space shuttle had to make an emergency landing.

In their recent album, the nine-piece band Mdungu pays homage to Gambia's brief ties with space.

The album is called "The Gambian Space Program".

Thijs van Milligen is the group's founder and sax player. The band's lead singer is from Gambia, but others are from Luxembourg, Spain and the Netherlands, where the group is based.

The group's funky music is however decidedly African.

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