Outside Movie Makers Must Stop Scavenging Our Meagre Resources

Sankanu dipping his fingers into Jammeh’s eyes!


By Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, Gambian Filmmaker and Scholar on African Cinema

First of all, various Nigerian and Ghanaian media outlets reported that the President of my country Yahya Jammeh has recently allocated portions of our Gambian lands to some Nigerian and Ghanaian entertainers. The fact that we Gambians have to know about this from second hand sources speaks volumes on the way we are treated as non-humans by those running our country. Jammeh is a temporal President and not the everlasting private owner of the commonwealth of our Gambian fatherland. I for one respect him and endorse his freedom to do whatever he pleases within the parameters of the Reasonable State and Realpolitik but if he touches certain red lines, I will speak truth to power without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The senseless wastage of our scarce resources on money-hungry foreign musicians and movie stars is scratching on those red lines. I am therefore calling on the named home video peoples not to rush in developing the land that President Jammeh reportedly allocated them. For over 10 years, we have been reading reports on how Nigerian video film stars, and of late Ghanaian ones, are airlifted into the Gambia to serve as presidential event decorations. They are rewarded millions from our Gambian tax revenues without measurable lasting benefits to our creative economy. If at all the monies are from President Jammeh’s personal savings before he became President of the Republic of The Gambia on the 22 July 1994, I would not care. But the funds that are wasted on the Nigerian and Ghanaian hustlers are generated through our taxes and remittances and we have the right to speak out on it. After all, we are the ones sweating for the monies. The Gambian economy is on life-support at the time of writing this piece. Without our Diaspora remittances and the bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we would have long seen a Burkina Faso-style mass revolution by the hungry and tired Gambians. President Jammeh’s strength lies on the weaknesses and pettiness within the ranks of those fighting to end his rule. The greedy Nigerian and Ghanaian entertainers “chopping him dry” are too blinded by our free government money, free food and free sex with some local girls to see, feel or understand the silent sufferings of the voiceless Gambians.

Secondly, it is an open secret that President Jammeh does not feel comfortable supporting highly professional and ethical Gambians. This self-denial does not give the Nigerian and Ghanaian wannabe stars the birth right to milk our poor nation dry. You don’t need to be rocket scientists to know that Nigeria and Ghana have more geographical space and other resources than our little Gambia with a total territorial size of just 11,295 square kilometres. Land is scarce and highly sensitive. Our Gambian courts are currently inundated with protracted litigations over land disputes across the country. Governments come and go but the people and their land problems will remain. No sane person can guarantee that the Jammeh government will continue to rule the Gambia for the next 20 years. Being a Nigerian or Ghanaian so-called celebrity will not immune you against future court appearances over land and other contractual disputes. Future governments have the prerogative to nullify land allocations and revise destructive decisions of the current regime. Feel free to ignore my sincere advice, go ahead to develop the “donated” land and invest in Gambia at your own peril.

Thirdly, I will not blame the local population for the rising anti-Nigerian and anti-Ghanaian sentiments that are fuelled by the irrational decisions of the powers that be. If you snatch away the meagre resources of scared and disadvantaged communities and share them among fat and parasitic entertainers from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Jamaica and other places, you invite trouble into the nation. I am a responsible Pan-Africanist and believer in African solidarity among the people without the hypocrisy of the political classes. Direct exchanges among the diverse peoples of African descent on fair terms are better for me than the divide-and-rule tactics of the corrupt elites. Successive Nigerian governments have been blindly sending lawyers and judges to assist in building a progressive Gambian judiciary but most of them ended up as corrupt mercenaries ever-ready to jail more Gambians just to appease the executive branch of the Gambian government. You now wonder about the sources of anti-Nigerian slurs that you could hear on the streets of the Gambia? That said, African solidarity does not mean taking away from the poorer Africans in this case Gambians, to pamper the richer and fatter Africans, known here as the hustling Nigerian and Ghanaian home movie people. Personally, I have put more money into the Nigerian film industry since 2006 without insisting on quick returns on investment. I love Nigeria and I believe in the Pax Nigeriana – that is Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa and the Black Diaspora but that does not mean I should not question things that go wrong between Maiduguri and Calabar. I visited the country in 2008 and deliberately avoided the limelight but my behind-the-scene contributions towards mutually beneficial inter-African solidarity in the creative industries remain strong. I have people across the various segments of the Nigerian Cinema between Kano and Lagos to confirm my silent activities. I don’t need to be running after the Nigerian or African politicians and business leaders for charities and photo opportunities in order to show the whole world that I am contributing my quota towards the advancement of Africa in my natural fields of expertise and passion. Ghana is also not absent on my agenda. I have been screening Ghanaian films in Germany, welcoming promising Ghanaians talents and cooperating with Ghanaian Diaspora groups in Cologne since 2006. I need not talk about other African or Afro-Caribbean countries.

Fourthly, Gambians don’t value their own talents. For years, they preferred patronising Senegalese and other fly-by-night musicians while expecting them to build the local music Gambian industry. The same blunder is being repeated in the movie industry. Our local movie talents are living from hand to mouth while the hustling fly-by-night Nollywood and Ghana folks are pampered with our taxes and remittances. If you try to reason, they would say you are jealous. Why would we be jealous when some of us are blessed with the expertise, global connections and confidence to thrive across the international film scenes? I for one can afford the luxury of staying out of the competition for publicity, movie roles and photo sessions with politicians and remain a relevant behind-the-scene thinker on African Cinema. I just pity the local talents who cannot speak their honest minds on the state of affairs. No one will build the Gambia for Gambians. The Kenyans, Ghanaians, Tanzanian, Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, Ugandans and others used to wait for some Nollywood noise-makers and hustlers when the digital home video phenomenon started 20 years ago but along the line they realised that they had to take the lead in building their respective national film industries. In the Gambia, it is a crime to be innovative and think out of the box. Patriotism there is about telling lies to the powers-that-be and inviting foreign stars to collect presidential gifts that will be shared among those who facilitated the access to “His Excellency Professor Doctor President Alhagie Yahya Abdul Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh, Babili Mansa, Lord of the Bridges and the greatest Pan Africanist of all times.” Correct me if at all I left something out of the glorious name!

Fifthly, the pioneers of postcolonial Nigeria Cinema before the digital age relied on some healthy degrees of social responsibility and self-reliance to build an industry from scratch. It is a shame that for the past decades some of Nollywooders and accidental home video people have been prostituting themselves to political desperadoes across the African continent. Their filmmaking is no longer about checking and balancing the African political classes or raising social consciousness. The derogatory names “Nollywood” and “Gollywood” are synonymous to the “greed is good” mentality. It is all about playing, partying and vanity at the expense of taxpayers. Their monotonous home videos are mainly regurgitating the missionary and jihadist propaganda that everything culturally African is evil and backward while promoting the aggressive proselytization of the Western neo-colonialists and Middle Eastern Trans-Saharan slave traders as the only superior options for acculturation that Africans must copy at all costs or end in hell. Hallelujah! Allaw Akbar! To the lords of the White and Arab masters must be the great glory at all times: say ameen! The perpetuation of the self-hate coupled with skin bleaching, fake hair and the obsession with “Onyibo” America and materialism aside, some of the so-called stars over-rated their political levels by aggressively campaigning for the defeated Doctor Goodluck Jonathan in the last Nigerian presidential elections of 2015 and took home millions in fees or gifts. They over-rated themselves by mistaking the hype and photo opportunities with dictators and questionable business people as political gravitas. If I were Dr. Jonathan, I would have asked them for a refund. Yes, they have the right to be actively involved in the domestic politics of Nigeria and their home countries but when our ill-advised Gambian government waste our meagre public funds on them, I for one will challenge them. As a film director and producer, I make stars but I don’t worship them. I don’t care if you win all the film or TV awards under the sun and get all the global publicity and the fattest bank accounts in your industry. That will not make me run after you like demi-gods. You will only get the respect you earned through your comportment, sincerity, modesty and social responsibility. I am allergic to greed!

Sixthly, the Boko Haram neo-jihadist group is engaged in genocide against Nigerians and Africans in the name of Islam but not a single Nigerian director, producer or actor has so far shown the bravery with patriotic and social responsibility to make a serious film on the Boko Haram mass murder. The Malians and Mauritanians were brave enough to make a film on the misuse of Islam for violence. Watch “Timbuktu” (2015) directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. Another Malian sensitization and resistance movie against religious fundamentalism titled “They Will Have To Kill Us First” (2015) directed by Johanna Schwartz will be in circulation next year. Nigerians cannot say money is the problem as they have more resources at their disposal than the brave Mauritanian and Malian filmmakers and actors. Frustrated by the apparent cowardice in Nollywood, I recently asked one of my local Nigerian contacts to write and send me a movie script on the local war on terror so that I can take the risk of making a film that will challenge the senseless killings in the name of Islam. If the Malians were to waste their meagre resources on the Nollywood stars to tell their African stories, the religious war of the Tuareg region would still be boiling hot like the Boko Haram cancer. For the citizens would not have had the local content and credible chance to be sensitised on the menace of religious bigotry through the power of film. Boko Haram is technically doing what countless Nigerian home videos are doing to the African Personality – destroying the African social fabric and values and replacing them with imported lethal ideologies. People will readily attack President Obama and the Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS) for defending homosexuality but would blindly support Nollywood and Boko Haram for promoting ungodly acts of adultery, cheating, lying, greed, rape, robbery, corruption, decadence, hypocrisy and fake un-African lifestyles. My powerful article titled “Are Nigerian Filmmakers Afraid of Boko Haram?” will be published soon.

Finally, I don’t blame the Nigerian and Ghanaian hustlers that much for exploiting the gullibility and destitution of some narrow-minded African cabals and peoples. As I pointed out above, Gambians don’t sincerely value their own talents and President Jammeh or those who control his presidential ears are repeatedly showing that they are more comfortable dishing out luxury vehicles, land, villas, cash in foreign currencies and diplomatic passports to visiting praise-singing stars some of whom could be struggling to pay their bills as all that glitters is not gold, while badmouthing, marginalizing, imprisoning or neglecting the sincere Gambian talents. The “lucky” few Gambians will get some hundreds of thousands of Dalasis, from time to time but in exchange for blind loyalty or maximum shut-up. Personally, I see it as a blessing in disguise that President Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh has so far not given me a dime for my Gambian film industry projects. This has granted me the clear conscience, creative freedom, street credibility and elite authority to talk freely, do my things independently on my chosen terms and speak truth to power whenever I deem necessary without hypocrisy and the guilt of eating his presidential monies. I will be in the Gambia later this year to continue from where I stopped in contributing my quota towards the development of our Gambian creative scenes without begging or waiting for anyone.

The author is a seasoned Gambian journalist, critic, filmmaker and Scholar on Africa Cinema. He holds, among other qualifications, a Master’s Degree in Film Studies from the University of Stirling. He is the initiator of the CINEKAMBIYA branding project aimed at creating a unique Gambian film industry. Sankanu is also team member of FilmInitiativ Koeln e.V. (http://www.filme-aus-afrika.de/EN/contact/), organizers of Germany’s leading African film festival “Jenseits von Europa- Neue Filme aus Africa” in Cologne. As a bona fide film director, Prince Sankanu’s latest completed project is MUSUYA KUNTO (cutting the womanhood), a taboo-shaking documentary on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia that will be premiered in December 2015. See: https://vimeo.com/139114537

Email: princebasankanu@gmail.com



  1. To the Prince of the Cinema, your this one statement summed up ALL the problems Gambians failed to see: “President Jammeh’s strength lies on the weaknesses and pettiness within the ranks of those fighting to end his rule.” Bravo for hitting the TRUTH on our heads.

  2. Mr sankanu , the truth is that Dictator Jammeh did not want any Gambian to prosper and be successful. Gambian talents , entrepreneurism, businesses , intellectualism or anything that is progressive is being term as a threat to Jammeh except those who are ready to kiss his ass , unprincipled , corrupt and sing praises about him . Gambians most respected and talented musician Jaliba kuyateh is hated by president Jammeh. This is why we haven’t seen Jaliba for the past years being part of any significant events organized by the Dictator and his gangs of criminals . Jammeh’s dislike and hatred for Jaliba is known to those who are very closed to him . For the record , Jammeh is responsible for the burning of Jaliba’s storey building he built in Brikama . This was done out of pure hatred because Jaliba was making his money by visiting diaspora in USA and Europe. Jammeh didn’t want that building and the success Jaliba has in diaspora . He instructed his team of evil doers to cause fire in his building . Jaliba refused to be used like those hypocrites who pretended to care for Gambians .
    Mr sankanu , you have also learned something during your past visit to Gambia in order to get the Dictator Jammeh’s attention but you ended up being disgraced . The example of Jaliba and yours should open the eye of the sleeping population .
    I commend Jaliba for his humility , self respect , independent and non-sycophancy though I completely disagree with his non-participation in our political process . I believe Jaliba has a voice and significant followings which he could educate about human rights abuses , economic deterioration and corruption.
    It is not a suprise to see Jammeh allocating our lands to these greedy individuals who are destroying our country in their sexual exploitation of our young vulnerable girls and destruction of our culture and moral values . Today , Gambian music is not play in any naming ceremony or social gatherings . Our young people are all into foreign music or movies such as Nigerian music and movies . You are right that we Gambians don’t value our own talents and our people .
    During last Jammeh’s birthday celebration , he brought late South African music star lucky Dube’s daughter along with Senegalese musicians at the expense of Gambian taxpayers . There was a week of partying , prostitution , sex and raped of young Gambian girls by Dictator Jammeh in his home village of Kanillia. During this events , millions of dalasis were wasted . Over 20 young beautiful girls of Jammeh’s sex team of protocols were in kanilai.
    Our Gambian culture of respect , moral values and dignity are all doomed now thanks to the criminal leader in the statehouse . Jammeh is no different from Boko Haram terrorist group which he claimed to hate , Because they are both terrorists and they engaged in killings , sexual exploitation , kidnapped and torture.

  3. The passive Gambian sits around while Bukay and his Gold Digger plunger our natural resources, imprison our brethren, rape, maim, kill us! When are we patriotic Gambains going to put our tribal, regional differences and confront this cancer once and for all?

  4. Who says Prince Sankanu is not serious? Not this time around.

  5. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    My Royal Prince, His Royal Higness Hail Haile Halake welcomes you back. You disappeared since you got married and learnt to enjoy the fruit of the vine.

    But, I have to say your thesis here seems rather dubious and well below your usual high standards (which does result from enjoying the fruit of the vine too much!).

    Surely, there are NUMEROUS examples of President Jammeh’s largesse to GAMBIAN ARTISTS!! Jammeh has supported lots of them – including Fatou Camara (lol!).


    My Dear Luntango Sunn Gann Bi, I highly appreciate your thoughts and those of all the other commentators. I am fully aware of the NUMEROUS examples of President Jammeh’s largess to Gambian artists including Fatou Camara but beyond the headlines but with minimal impact. The support that non-Gambian artistes get are higher and more generous than the charities thrown at the Gambian ones. Besides, most of the presidential gifts or support are for short-term political propaganda purposes and not for long-term benefit of the creative industry. Can you kindly name the number of Jammeh-supported Gambian artistes who made breakthrough on the global or African creative scenes? How many of them can beat the Nigerians or Ghanaian artistes on the stage with all the presidential support?

    From the feedbacks I am getting, my powerful article is widely shared among stakeholders of the Nigeria, Ghanaian and other African film industries. Some of them are so used to only hearing praises and flattering words till they started behaving like omnipotent and omniscient super humans that must be worshipped. It is therefore a SHOCK for them to be demystified and cut to size. The dinning and winning with corrupt politicians must have made some of them forget that they are just toys in a game.
    One of the core objectives of the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) and the Federation of Pan African Filmmakers (FEPACI) is the promotion of confrontations and progressive debates on the state, dynamics and directions of the African Cinema.
    I am glad that I am playing my part in the confrontations without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. As a think-tank on Africa Cinema, I will continue to dip my fingers into the eyes towards our common good. AND IF THIS MEANS BEING DUBIOUS OR XENOPHOBIC, SO BE IT….

    If others are just there to glorify and flatter the actors, actresses and other hustlers, I will spank them awake so that success would not enter into their heads till they forget the realities of life. Being an actor, actress, director or producer comes with SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES. Life is not just about money, fast cars, big houses and materialism. One must have the CONSCIENCE to say no or exercise restraints. For example, I keep hearing some Nigerian and Ghanaian stars saying they will not act certain roles no matter how huge the fees. Others however seem to have no problem sharing the ill-gotten monies of corrupt politicians, dictators, business people and fake preachers who rob taxpayers on broad day light. The robbed taxpayers and worshippers too have rights. Most of them work very hard for their monies as well.

    I DID NOT write this thought-provoking article to appease any mortal. I stand by every word till the last drop of my blood. I also respect the rights of people to disagree and complain but then they have do live with it as there is nothing under the sun that will make me modify my tone or edit my arguments to appease the fastidious folks….When the Nigerian mercenary judges were grabbing the President Jammeh opportunities to jail Gambians indiscriminately, they were labelled as mercinaries and concerned Gambians raised their voices. I dont believe in selective judgements. The movie hustlers have been doing the same at least for the past 10 years and it only fair to challenge them. This is not about Xenophobia as I noted in my third point. The Ghanaian stood up against the “NOLLYWOOD INVASION” to do their home work first before developing a win-win strategy with the Nigerians. I am in for a win-win cooperation with our Nigerian brothers and sisters but not on the counter-productive terms that I highlighted in my article. Jammeh will go but the two nations will stay. What is wrong me placing the mirror before the noses? DID THE NIGERIAN MERCENARY JUDGES KNOW THAT GAMBIANS ARE BROTHERS OF NIGERIANS WHEN THEY WERE INDISCRIMINATELY JAILING GAMBIANS BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT WAS GIVING THEM MONEY, HOUSES, TITLES, YOU NAME IT?

    Warmest regards,
    Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu,

  7. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    Your “last drop of blood” will remain warm in your Princely body for many more decades, Inshallah, my Serahulleh Highness.

    I am glad you accept that Jammeh has indeed supported many Gambian artistes.

    But Nollywood is to Gambia what Hollywood is to UK and Bollywood is to Sri Lanka. One can hardly blame His Excellency King Kanilai 1 for the fact that Nollywood has swamped West Africa and the West African viewing Diaspora.

    PS: We Royal Ethiopians look down our Princely African noses at Nollywood, Bollywood and even Hollywood!


    1. Indeed my article touched nerves. The pro-Jammeh propaganda machine is desperately trying to fight back! One paid propagandist by the name EJIKE ASIEGBU, former President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) tried to tarnish my image with venoms that his paid masters fed him.

    2. Since the 2016 presidential elections is getting closer, those Nollywood and Gollywood prostitutes, hustlers and scavengers are being paid to preach to Gambians NOT to allow me become President. It is not surprising that since all avenues of fair and participatory democracy in The Gambia are closed and the opposition and Diaspora candidates marginalized, any prominent Gambian who speaks truth to power is automatically seen as a threat to President Jammeh or someone who wants to become president.

    3. I cannot remember expressing my plans to run for President of The Gambia any time soon. I never new that I am presidential material, after all. Thanks to Nollywood for tipping Gambian voters about my presidential capabilities. The more money you collect from the Jammeh system to tarnish my image, the more backfire you generate for yourselves and your paid masters. Gambians are desperately looking for alternatives to President Jammeh and the more you try to pick a fight with me, the more you mobilize conscious Gambians against the social injustices that you are promoting.

    4. My fellow Gambians are you so cursed by Allah that you have to wait for paid praise-singers from Nollywood, Gollywood and others places to dictate to you who your President should be?

    5. The holy prophet of Nigerian home videos and saint of African politics, Ejike Asiegbu claims that I hate Jammeh and purged on like I go my Twitter tag: “If a dangerous character like Bubaccar ever becomes President of the Gambia, one does not need a soothsayer to know that he will place an iron curtain over the country and bar foreigners from investing and or doing business in his country thereby causing his people pain and suffering…”

    6. Pure crap. THE NIGERIAN FILM INDUSTRY WAS BUILT BY NIGERIANS FIRST AND NOT FOREIGNERS WHO INVESTED IN NIGERIA…Do not tell me the pains and sufferings of the Nigerian people have stopped since the day Nollywood gained global attention and since the moment some Nollywood noise-makers started partying with despots and corrupt political patrons in and out of Nigeria?

    7. It is hypocritical that we keep hearing about “LOCAL CONTENT” for investments and projects in Nigeria but if we ask for the same fundamental rights in our countries, we are called xenophobes and dangerous. The globally-accepted rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) encourage local initiatives or reasonable barriers against dumping and unfair investment practices. This does not make one dangerous.

    8. Why are Europe and USA developing safeguards against cheap and sub-standard Chinese goods that are dumped on their markets? Does this makes current US President Obama and German Chancellor dangerous for building barriers against Chinese destruction of their local capacities? If Obama and Merkel are dangerous to their successful people and economies, then I am proud to become a dangerous Gambian leader when Gambians give me the legitimate mandate for it with term limits.

    10. Mr. Eijke Asiegbu and all those paid scavengers, I will respond to you later, once I return from my weekend engagements.
    Meanwhile, my in-depth interview on Whats-On Gambia has more though-provoking arguments for those who miss it:

  9. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    HRH Sankunu says:

    “Why are Europe and USA developing safeguards against cheap and sub-standard Chinese goods that are dumped on their markets?”

    HRH Hail Haile Halake says:

    Europe and USA will soon become ‘Consumer Colonies’ of China – if they are not already! … Chinese President slept in UK Queen’s Palace last night!!

    There is no “safeguard” against that, my dear HRH!