There are three things among others that I will never be embarrassed or apologetic for – My FAITH. MY RACE. MY TRIBE. These composed my identity and I can’t run away from. To disparage me by attacking them amounts to disrespecting and insulting my being. When that happens, I cannot reserve any degree of love or respect for you. It does not make me a Bigot, a Racist or Tribalist. You identity is Your Pride. I’m not going to be wearing it around my neck to hate, love, and embrace or discriminate. When that happens that’s when it becomes abhorrent and dangerous. Allah acknowledges, respects our (distinct) identities – Tribes and Nations in the Quran, and it was not for nothing.
‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).’ – Quran Surah 49:13
While we’re worried about President Jammeh and his government looting and misappropriating our state resources, abusing and exiling us, we tend to dismiss his public inflammatory rhetoric as ‘insanity’ and Jammeh rants. In doing so we are giving him the green card to continue this dangerous path.
What we may be involuntarily doing is fanning his sadistic and dangerous fire by ignoring his incendiary and deliberate tribal diatribes that could plunge the little Gambia into ethnic and civil chaos. From recent history, we’ve seen how ethic violence in Bosnia, Rwanda and Burundi could lead to an annihilation of a whole ethnicity and their identities, fueled by idiots like Yaya with a platform. Fortunately for us, thus far Jammeh is the only Gambian propagating tribal hatred and discord.
I’d not have any qualms with Yaya Jammeh the person having the sentiments he has towards Mandinkas. That is his prerogative. What troubles and disgusts me is Yaya Jammeh the president of the Gambia’s incessant obsession with vile remarks, insults and threats towards a particular group of people because of their ethnicity any time he is accorded the opportunity. As a matter of fact, Yaya’s discomfort and resulting vitriol towards the Mandinkas has gone beyond verbal pronouncements to become executive and government policy where they get targeted, discriminated and marginalized. For an elected president to comfortably state or make it a policy that he prefers one particular tribe to another is not only discriminating but troubling, despite swearing to serve and execute his duties without fear or favor, affection or ill-will.
For far too long, we have avoided this conversation in the mainstream discourses for fear of being labeled tribalist. It makes us uncomfortable. For 20 years, we’ve watched Jammeh say the most disrespectful things on TV and political platforms about a particular tribe and we passingly condemn or laughed them off. Habitually, he’d go to a predominantly Mandinka communities with the likes of Yankuba Touray and the seyfos warning and threatening them against tribal politics and division, setting the stage for Yaya to masturbate rubbish while our parents shamefully grin. He’d wag his fingers, raise his voice at them and call them, their kids unpatriotic souls and enemies of the country. What a disingenuous lie! Objective is clear and the mission defined. This nigga is a divisive, hateful being. What would my parents and I gain in hating the Gambia? Why would I set the one place I call home ablaze?
‘WHO TAUGHT YOU TO HATE YOURSELF?’ Malcolm X asked his people. Well let’s ask ourselves the same question. Could you imagine a little white boy walking around in a black neighborhood screaming “NIGGER!’? Or a black boy in a Klan town singing ‘Cracker Cracker!’ So in as much as I want to squeeze the living soul out of Jammeh, I have to be realistic that the Mandinkas made him this comfortable to even have the audacity. If I am comfortable enough to tell your derogatory things about your family, I must have sensed how you feel about your own. I cannot respect a man who pisses on his people just so he could fit in.
Since 1994 there has never been a shortage of Mandinkas used by Jammeh against their own. From Almamo Manneh, Baba Jobe, Tabora Manneh, Yankuba Touray, Kaba Bajo, Momodou Sabally, all would jump at the chance to berate their own parents and their identity just to be close to the president. But good old Yaya ends up destroying them one by one and move to the next. Ndey Tapha Sosseh aptly argued this in her piece a couple of years ago. Yaya will continue to insult us because WE let him. We insult ourselves by running and fighting over his crumbs.
So Who Taught Us to Hate Ourselves? Yaya Jammeh. He is not stupid. Jammeh has succeeded in beating the esteem out of us with the help of shameless, selfish and embarrassing Mandinkas to an extend that we are afraid and embarrassed to identify ourselves as Mandinkas. The Gambian Mandinka is the only kind you’d ask ‘where are you from?’ and he responds with ‘I was born in Jarra BUT I went to school in Kanifing’. We’re the only one’s you’d ask ‘What are you?’ and we tell you ‘My mom and dad are Mandinkas but my aunt’s co-wife is a Hausa’. God forbid you mistakenly take them for a UDP sympathizer. They’d swear that they’d detonate a grenade at a UDP rally. Yaya Jammeh has succeeded in emasculating us. He’s succeeded very little efforts, to have us shun our identity and embarrassed to speak or admit being a Mandinka in public much more before him. He understands the psychological domination, and then dangles a position before these greedy, low self-esteem idiots and they drown each other in a gas tank just to please him. Gathers and calls them filth and scumbags, and they applaud. It is a shame!
I dislike President Jammeh NOT because he is a Jola or he’s from Foni. And will not follow that with the qualifying statement that ‘I am not tribalist because my friends are Jolas’. I have never seen the need why people use that defensive line when they do not have hold such feeling. I do not support him because I do not agree with the way he runs the affairs our country. This has nothing to do with his tribe. I will not support him because he has become more everything that he claimed was wrong with the first republic. I cannot be voting or remotely working with an elected president who has no respect for his nationals. In a conscious democracy, Yaya would never utter such slurs towards a demography that has numbers on their side knowing that would cost him. It wouldn’t happen. So I am not asking anybody to vote against Yaya on tribal lines, but I will unapologetically ask that you turn your backs against a man who shares nothing in common with you and does bat an eye to disrespect you in your face. This is not just for the Mandinkas but anybody who respect decency and frown on the hatred propagated by Jammeh. Today he has his arsenal on the Mandinkas, tomorrow could be you. Politics is an interest game. You’d be foolish to continue voting for a known tribalist and imbecile SOB.He can get raped by a gang of apes and contact ebola for all I know. This nigga disgusts me!