The paper discusses female circumcision in Gambia. Special focus is put on the practice as it is performed by the two most numerous ethnic categories in Gambia, Mandinka and Fula, and the cultural meanings attached to the practice. The girls are normally taken to circumcision when they are between five and ten years old and the physical operation (clitoridectomy and excision) is followed by a seclusion period with training and initiation into a "secret society". The main focus of this paper is the great variation of meanings attached to the practice in an urban multiethnic context (Bakau).