The glorification of gangsters and looters of public assets is like national religion in their home countries, anyway.
By Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu
“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism” Professor Wole Soyinka. “It is time for African actors to stand for what is morally right and contribute positively to development of Africa. Mr Ejike’s article is full of unintelligent reasoning, personal attacks, and lack of moral conscience and is above all, dishonest and hypocritical…” Bax.
Following my critical and taboo-breaking article on the Nigerian and Ghanaian home video scavengers that sent shock waves across the various African film industries, a bigoted Ejike Asiegbu who identifies himself as former President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), tried to justify his relentless greed, lack of ethics and his penchant for charlatanry in a poorly-written propaganda note that appeared recently on various Nigerian media outlets.
As I noted on my Facebook social media profile, a film industry without critical film scholars and thinkers is like a head without living brain cells. Inspired by the desire to advance scholarship in African Cinema and the generic fields of African Studies, I am, once more, demystifying the arrogant godfathers of greed and their demented backers without fear or favour. Ergo, I will not be that academic here since Mr. Asiegbu and his ilk do not have the mental capacity to read and understand anything that is lengthier than the names of the despots they are defending across Africa. Other concerned Gambians expressed their thoughts on the scavenging spree and I have integrated the responses of some of them into this elaborate article of 7,480 words.
IF MY REFUSAL TO PROSTITUTE MY DIGNITY MAKES ME A LOSER THEN AM PROUD OF BEING ONE
Asiegbu, a lazy theatre arts undergraduate and mediocre actor, shamelessly labelled me, the Prince from the Noble House of the Sanxaanu Kaggoro Xabila of Sotuma Sere, a loser just to score cheap points. I will forgive him on this one since he knows nothing about my true genealogy dating back to the days of the ancient Ghana Empire. Next time, he will lose his tongue! However, if prostituting my dignity at the altars of the be-rich-quick mentality, vanity and impunity, is the marker of success in his part of Africa, then I am proud of being a loser. Any sincere person who takes his or her time to study my pedigree and academic or professional achievements with an open mind will know that I do not need to denigrate myself to the slimy levels of Asiegbu and his fellow gangsters or be used as a tool of dictatorial propaganda. Ethics are absent in their shallow vocabularies. Unlike Ejike Asiegbu, I am in the film profession for the passion, the calling and for social consciousness. I am not interested in flashy cars, big houses, phoney awards, easy money and the celebrity hype with decadent shopping spree in Dubai, USA, South Africa or the UK as well as the obsession with meeting every Dick, Tom and Harry, no matter how rich, powerful or influential. I don’t need to be in his network of greed in order to remain a relevant stakeholder of the African cinema systems. I am not a Saint and I am not interested in becoming one. Like all mortal sinners, I have my natural shortcomings that I am working on round the clock. Whatever the case, I am humbled by the fact that I am not an intellectual prostitute and political lackey.
Mr. Asiegbu is a genetically corrupt hypocrite and notorious member of the dictatorial and parasitic “godfather” mafia connections that are messing up the Nigerian and African film industries. Wherever they appear, they put money above humanism and are ready to walk on corpses just to fool the people in power or business. I don’t blame him since he and his fellow scavengers are more interested in the amount of monies they get from President Jammeh than the welfare of the poor Gambians. Living parasitically at the expense of taxpayers is easy and Mr. Asiegbu will of course defend the status quo to keep the money flowing from our State House into his bank accounts.
He called me “dangerous” since I am a threat to his vagabonding promotion of impunity and dictatorships across Africa. He is aware of the fact that whenever Gambian voters and their regional or international development partners give me the legitimate mandate to preside over the Gambia with term limits, I will stop the wastage of our meagre national resources on parasitic scavengers. At the time of writing, I have valid Princely customary authority over substantial pieces of land in Gambia and Senegal that predates the Balkanization of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. The modern constitutions of Senegal and Gambia recognize the progressive aspects of our African Customary Law and land tenure systems thus giving me the prowess to speak on land matters in my areas. As part of the intellectual elite thinkers and princely nobility in my community, it is naturally expected of me to be speaking truth to power both secular and theocratic and, to be reflecting the inner feelings of the people as a voice of reason. Well, according to the Ejike Asiegbus of this world, this is too much social responsibility for a loser!
THE MONSTERS AND BAD INFLUENCES FROM NOLLYWOOD ARE THE ONES TO TAME
Mr. Asiegbu said that he was motivated by his ego-boosting mission to tame a monster at infancy. Well the monsters I know that must be urgently tamed are the ones in Nollywood and Gollywood who care more about fame and money than social justice. Over the last 20 years we have witnessed exaggerated self-aggrandizement among Nollywood and Gollywood folks who think because they have the economies of scale to flood the markets with DVDs and VCDs, we must be scared of them at all times. One of the biggest shortcomings of our contemporary African Cinema is the shortage of brave film critics and scholars to put them through rigorous reality checks. Hence charlatans like Asiegbu are getting away with their home video trash. Maxs from the Gambia summarizes it well:
The reason why we are crying foul about Nigerian video scavengers is not only because of President Jammeh’s corruption of allocation of lands to these scavengers but also their movies are too bad for our culture in terms of morality and encouragement of negatives vices. The video-makers are themselves bad influences in our culture. We have also the worst system in place which encourages such negative acts. Therefore such system is the breeding ground or host to reproduce corruption, lawlessness, exploitation and abuse (Maxs, Kaironews.com, 27.10.2015).
Some of the video-makers are so used to hearing only praises and flattering words that they now behave like omnipotent and omniscient super humans that must be worshipped. It is therefore a shock for them to be demystified and cut to size by me. The dinning and winning with corrupt politicians and corporate crooks must have made some of them forget that they are just toys in a game. That said, when the late Sembène Ousmane of Senegal and his fellow pioneers of postcolonial African Cinema were initiating the Federation of Pan African Filmmakers (FEPACI) and later the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), they prayed for responsible confrontations and progressive debates on the state, dynamics and directions of the African Cinema in all its variations.
I am glad that I am playing my part in the confrontations with a clear conscience. As a think-tank on Africa Cinema, I will continue to dip my fingers into the eyes of Africa-related film stakeholders towards our common cinematic good. If others are just there to glorify and flatter the actors, actresses, producers and other hustlers, I respect their choice but I, for one, will spank them awake so that success will 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 other manifestations of materialism. One must have the CONSCIENCE to say no to impunity or decadence. For example, I keep hearing some Nigerian and Ghanaian stars saying they will not act certain roles no matter how huge the fees are. Others like Ejike Asiegbu however seem to have no problem sharing the ill-gotten monies of corrupt politicians, dictators, business people and fake preachers who rob taxpayers on a broad day light. The robbed taxpayers and worshippers too have rights. Most of them work very hard for their monies as well.
THE GAMBIA IS NOT A THEOCRACY, ASIEGBU AND CO ARE LOUSY NO-BODIES
Anyone who compares the maps of the Gambia with those of Ghana and Nigeria would know that I am in fact doing the Nollywood people a favour by warning them of the traps. There are not the first to be enticed into the Gambia only to be used and expelled by the very Jammeh system that invited and pampered them. They are however too arrogant and greedy to see the point. The land in our little Gambia does not belong to the temporal leader in authority for him to play with it as he deems fit. The Gambia is also not a theocratic state where the irrational decisions of a self-confessed dictator must be the final words of God. The Gambia is Secular Republic with checks and balance even though we “tolerated” executive excesses far too long. We were politically cheated through the removal of the term limits clause hours before our people voted in the referendum on our 1997 Constitution.
People should be sincere for a moment: will you like it when your resources are snatched from you by your national president, state governor or local government chairperson without prior consultation and given to parasitic visitors? I know some people in Nigeria and Ghana are celebrating the Gambian land grab and illegal money rain on the home video hustlers since the glorification of gangsters and looters of public assets is like national religion in their home countries. For them it is okay to snatch from the poor and give to the rich because the leader in authority says so. No wonder Africa is in a mess. Not enough brain cells are left for the defence of social justice and responsibility.
Ejike Asiegbu, Francis Duru, Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Patience Ozokwor, Eucharia Anunobi, Tony Umez, Ngozi Ezeonu, Kanayo O Kanayo, Chika Okpala (Zebrudaya) Harry B Anyanwu, Chinedu Ikedieze, Osita Iheme, Rukiat Masud, Jackie Appiah, you name the other presidential event decorations, are not the builders of our Gambian film industry. They are there as paid praise-singers and court jesters of President Jammeh. They are free to praise-sing for the money but they should be honest by keeping our CINEKAMBIYA Film Industry out of their greed. We don’t need them as they don’t have the competences to build a serious film industry. If they are competent as some people would like us to believe, they would have long found solutions to piracy, mediocrity, corruption, tribalism, greed, vanity, cabalism and other vices that are plaguing their Nollywood and Gollywood industries. We don’t want to copy their vices into our Gambian film scenes. This defiance is emphasized in the choice of CINEKAMBIYA (cinema from the land of River Gambia) as the generic brand of our Gambian film industry. We have the brainpower, capacity and dexterity to build our sustainable film industry without political hypocrisy. Even if President Jammeh is being advised to keep on marginalizing us the ethical Gambian film professionals, the future belongs to us and we are not rushing. I, for one, am ready to collaborate with all genuine film professionals on the African continent and the Diaspora but not on the current dictatorial, colonial and hypocritical terms.
As a reminder, Donald Duke, the former Executive Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria built the massive TINPAPA film studios complex in Calabar with cutting-edge film production equipment and enough space to accommodate all the serious filmmakers in Nigeria and West Africa. Instead of working with him and his successors of the Cross River State Government to advance Studio Tinapa for our Pan-African use, the scavengers left it to waste away while they brag about colonizing Africa with their selfishness. Public money was used to build the studios at Tinapa. If Ejike Asiegbu and his fellow parasites care about Nigerian and Gambian taxpayers, they would first use Tinapa which is just a stone throw from Lagos, to develop good inter-African collaboration films. But the free monies and lands from little poor Gambia are better for them than the world class film facilities in Calabar.
I am not expecting fat bank cheques from Nollywood and Gollywood hustlers who are already draining our meagre resources. Gambia is ranked the 4th poorest country in the world by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2015 but that is not preventing sharks like Ejike Asiegbu and his gang of shameless predators from gulping our monies and other assets because they are “gifts” from an ill-advised president. Stealing from the poor under the pretext of Pan-Africanism is the favourite past time of all those stars fooling President Jammeh. The greedy Ejike Asiegbu is not interested in knowing why the land gifting process was shrouded in secrecy. He is too stupid to accept the truth that the Jammeh system has alienated itself from the Gambian people and would prefer to use mercenaries from Nollywood and Ghana to sow discord between genuine Gambians, Nigerians and Ghanaians than to engage ethical Gambians in sincere nation-building.
INSULTING OUR GAMBIAN FILM PIONEERS OF THE 1960s AND US THE CURRENT GENERATION
Ejike Asiegbu insulted us the Gambian film experts by creating the impression that we only knew about film-making “some 8 years ago” when his fellow scavenger Francis Duru organized a workshop with some people. It was actually an audition and not professional film training in Gambia. This raw lie is an insult to the legacies of the late EBRIMA SAGNIA and his fellow pioneers of the GAMBIA FILM UNIT who were making Gambian films since the 1960, decades before Francis Duru was born. I hope Francis Duru will be honest for a minute by publicly distancing himself from this crass misrepresentation of the history of our Gambian film sectors. This is what scavengers do. They will snatch away your meagre resources, support impunity against you, deny your dignity and try to re-write your history with their nasty propaganda. Lamin K. Janneh, one of the current leading Gambian filmmakers discovered Ejike Asiegbu’s lies and has this to say:
This is funny. I laughed totally after reading all two points (of Ejike Asiegbu). My brothers the Gambian film industry does not need actors from Ghana or Nigeria even from USA to train them for a better movie industry. It is not actors who train people professionally. If politicians do not know that, we do. Actors and actresses are not trainers. If the president or government advisers want to help build a better (Gambian) film industry, they should consult our (Gambian) experts for better advice.
Even John Rambo of Hollywood, USA, will not be the right person to train Gambians to produce good and quality movies while there are hundreds of professionals out there to serve as lecturers. If you guys intend to work with the president politically that’s up to you but we are filmmakers. I write on these issues because of movies and not politics. I will stand for the truth because we both know Nigerian actors are not trainers.
We have worked with Nigerian actors in a Gambian film. They acted well and also helped in marketing the movie. But the claim that you as actors came to Gambia to train us the professionally-trained and educated film producers, directors, editors writers, camera operators, just to name few, can only be from an ignorant person who knows nothing about film production.
You (Ejike Asiegbu) mentioned Nigerian collaboration in Gambia in 2007. Well am sure you don’t get the full information about that because that was not training. It was an auditioning that was to also be a reality show in Nigeria part which I was contracted to edit. Far before any Nigerian actor in Gambia, serious film trainings were held in the Gambia. My point is our profession cannot be manipulated politically. We are fully capable of telling the difference… (Lamin K. Janneh, posted on facebook.com/princebubacarrs, 25.10.2015).
The Gambia National Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA), United Nations Funds for Population Activities (UNFA) and a host of others entities have been training Gambians on audio visual skills development since the 1980s and 1990s long before Francis Duru and his fellow hustlers came to the Gambia in 2007. Certainly Mr. Francis Duru did not train me in 1996 when I had my first practical training on film and television production in Gambia before moving to Germany and Scotland for higher education and advanced professional cinema work.
Mr. Asiegbu is not being fair to us. The Nigerian film industry was built by Nigerians and not other Africans or Westerners. Why should we Gambians not take the lead in building our CINEKAMBIYA film industry and must wait for mediocre folks from Nollywood and Gollywood with all those accidental video makers? I am planning to make a film on the Boko Haram terror. If current Nigerian President Muhammed Buhari or any other patriotic Nigerian investor/sponsor gives me money for it, I am sure Ejike and his fellow parrots will be all over the place throwing aspersions at me. They will ignore the truth that the Boko Haram problem has been destroying Nigeria and Africa since 2002 when the group was founded by Muhammed Yusuf and 13 years on, not a single Nigerian filmmaker has so far mustered the courage to make a serious counter-narrative film on the terror boys and their bloody campaigns of perdition. Accepting the cowardice within his Nollywood circles will of course be last thing Asiegbu will do.
Mr. Asiegbu claimed that collaborations between Nollywood and Gambia “began as far back as 2007, a move encouraged by President Jammeh.” We are now approaching 2016 and Mr. Asiegbu failed to give measurable details of the mutual benefits of the fake collaborations in question. What have the collaborations brought the Gambia? Why is Gambia still not a normal film-making nation with all the “almighty” presidential backings and lousy inputs from Nollywood? Where are the capacities they have been building in Gambia? The fact that Asiegbu cannot vividly name even one shows the futility in his hypocritical attempt to discredit me.
In this age of digital technologies with affordable video cameras, any person can shoot something and call it film. This does not mean that the person understands how a film industry operates. It is just like with the pervasive religious industry. Across Nigeria and Africa we see people competing in going to churches and mosques but have zero understanding of the true values of spirituality and religion. We have more noise-makers than filmmakers coming out of Nollywood and Gollywood trying to dictate to us how we should develop our film industries. Let them go and learn how to make relevant films first. China is flooding the global markets with cheap goods but that is not reducing the value of say, high quality “Made in Germany” products. So watching Nigerian and Ghanaian DVDs everywhere does not mean seeing quality African films everywhere. Mr. Asiegbu and his fellow gangsters are shamelessly hiding behind the cover of collaboration to line their pockets as paid promoters of dictatorships across Africa. Doing parasitic propaganda to entrench dictatorships against your fellow Africans does not mean collaborating to build our Gambian CINEKAMBIYA film industry.
CHARLATAN CLAIMING TO BE CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Ejike Asiegbu displayed his charlatanry and fake life when he called himself a “civil rights activist.” This is an insult to Professor Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Felani Anikulapo Kuti and other genuine rights activists who would not jump into an invitation from President Jammeh without first taking their time to find out why ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) refused to observe the last Gambian presidential elections and why Gambia tops the list of countries losing their young populations to illegal migration. The gifts, I better say charities, from Jammeh are more important to Ejike and his colleagues than the lives of the muzzled Gambians. Anyway, I add the response of another Gambian to Ejike:
Asiegbu, an actor and civil rights activist, lives in Lagos. From your write up, please delete the title of civil rights activist from your name. All respectable civil rights organizations worldwide have extensively documented Jammeh’s rights abuses in the Gambia. No brother, you are not a serious rights defender but rather a selfish scavenger running around hunting for a smell of death meat and stolen lands.
I am not holding brief for Sankanu. I am just putting it to you that you are disqualified to represent human and civil rights. As you accused Sankanu of venting hate, you are also playing a griotic (praise-singing) role in defending a despot, a killer and a chief thief calling him a Pan-Africanist.
Your insinuations of Nigerian banks operating in the Gambia are a non-starter. They are here to make money and not to give charity. If they don’t make profit, they will pack up and go. As for the rest of your diatribe and blablabla, only a stupid fool will respond to a stupid fool (Deida Hydara, Kaironews.com, comment thread, 24 October 2015).
Ejike vomited that “the relationship between the good people of the Gambia and the Nigerian people is one which has come to stay and the likes of Barbucarr cannot break it out of sheer hate for his country’s president.” The word “hate” has been used repeatedly on me within the past weeks by narrow-minded Nigerians who are defending social injustice in Gambia. I see it as a reflection of the hateful mentality of tribalism, sectarianism and corruption in their national polity that they are exporting to Gambia.
If speaking truth to power means hating the president of a country then Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Nigerian intellectuals hated Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and other Nigerian Presidents they critiqued in the interests of the Nigerian and African peoples. The relative freedom that Ejike and his fellow Nollywood bigmouths are enjoying in Nigeria today is the result of the bravery of responsible Nigerians who risked their lives and assets to challenge impunity, corruption and military dictatorships. At least the Gambian Yahya Jammeh that he is trying to impress will never say that I, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, hate him.
I cannot just remember hating President Jammeh or his government. Only that I am sick and tired of the hypocrisy and denial games in our national polity. The domestic economy is in a mess and the standard of living is deteriorating. All the reports of the credible international organizations about the decaying state of affairs in Gambia cannot be wrong. Our national priority should be to use our meagre resources in addressing these problems including the massive exodus of human capital rather than wasting them on fly-by-night actors with no sense of responsibility and conscience for the poor and the suppressed.
FROM BAKS: ASIEGBU ATTEMPTS TO MANUFACTURE XENOPHOBIA
Here I simply reproduce the response of another Gambian called Baks:
Ejike Asiegbu is entitled to his opinion about Yaya Jammeh, but he should do us all a favour and not try to justify the unjustifiable. Ejike Asiegbu cannot claim to be unaware of the dire political and economic situation that The Gambia is currently in, under Yaya Jammeh, nor can he feign ignorance of the poor human rights records of the regime, and its continued flouting of national and international laws/protocols. After all, a good number of his own “cousins” from Ghana were cold bloodedly butchered by his so-called “Pan Africanist” president, whilst the ECOWAS Court in Abuja has made numerous rulings on human rights violations against the regime, which it has continued to disregard and treat (the court) with contempt.
Indeed, a token of gift, as an expression of appreciation for services rendered or efforts contributed, is a practice that is well understood by the Gambian people (as by many African people), but Jammeh’s irresponsible misuse of our meagre national resources, in his futile pursuit in African statesman status, through largesse and pomp, should not be mistaken as Pan Africanism, nor should it be perceived as “gifts of appreciation from the Gambian people. And if that is Mr Asiegbu’s idea of a Pan Africanist, then he has a lot to learn about Pan Africanism.
Moreover, why has artists and other personalities, African and non-African, made it a hobby to jet into Banjul ever so often, to patronise Yaya Jammeh and receive his “gifts”? Is he the only “Pan Africanist” president in the entire continent?
I do not begrudge these opportunists for their targeting of The Gambia, and I don’t even think we should distract ourselves by engaging them, but I want Mr Asiegbu, his compatriots and people like him, to know that it is immoral, unethical and utterly shameful for anyone (especially fellow Africans for that matter) to prey on, and benefit from, the historical misfortune of the Gambian nation that catapulted an idiot and imbecile like Yaya Jammeh, into high public office. Their behaviour is embarrassingly shameful and inexcusable and the Gambian people will never forget their role in the looting and mismanagement of our meagre resources, and the destruction of the lives and futures of our children and their children’s children.
I will echo Prince Sankanu’s wisdom that Jammeh will depart the Gambian political scene one day, and then we shall see how much of a pan Africanist he will be to Ejike and his likes, without his deep pockets that are filled with our country’s resources. I will also echo his warnings that the land belongs to us and we will not hesitate to repossess it, when required. However, they can enjoy the Dollars and Pound Sterlings they receive from Jammeh. There is not much we can do about that.
Finally, I am baffled by what seems to be a misunderstanding, by a seemingly well educated man, of the issues Prince Sankanu raised in his piece. Mr. Asiegbu’s attempts to manufacture xenophobia and hatred, where there exist none, against the Nigerian people, is an indication of the type of person we are dealing with here.
Prince Sankanu’s concern and write up was directed, not at the Nigerians and Ghanaians as a people, but against a specific group of individuals from these countries, who patronise Yaya Jammeh and attempt to sanitise his battered image, for their personal selfish interests. Ejike’s devilish attempts, to twist Sankanu’s genuine concerns about the theft of our resources to suit his narrative, in order to create confusion, suspicion and bad blood between Gambians and Nigerians will not work. The partnership between the two sister countries and their people has been cemented well before the appearance of this charlatan on our political scene and long may that continue. Perhaps, Ejike should do a bit of research about the sentiments Lt Yaya Jammeh expressed against Nigerian officers who were in charge of The Gambia National Army in 1994 and then he will understand the fraud that Jammeh really is.
For the records, there are many genuine and hardworking Nigerians and Ghanaians in The Gambia, who have contributed immensely, and are contributing, in no small measure, in our national efforts and endeavours at development since independence. Gambians appreciate their efforts and invaluable service to our nation, rendered in the spirit of true pan Africanism. Unfortunately, there are handful of our brothers and sisters from Nigeria, whose greed and love of the material world, have reduced them to criminals and fraudsters wherever they are, and in the process, have thus tarnished the good name and image of a great country with a proud people and history.
My gut feeling is that Mr Ejike Asiegbu is one of those Nigerians and I for one, have no time for such a person lacking conscience. My advice is, don’t let this fraudster, without a conscience and his likes, make you generalise and stereo-type Nigerians as a whole. We are one and the same people (Bax, Kaironews.com, 25.10. 2015).
Mr. Asiegbu fails to understand that there are more xenophobes in his network but he is too proud to accept this. The pervasive tribalism in Nigeria is a strong case of internal xenophobia that Ejike Asiegbu and his greedy colleagues would deny in their attempt to justify corruption in Gambia. One of the reasons why Africa is in a mess is that people have forgotten how to tell each other the home truth. As I noted in my Whats on Gambia interview, it is nothing personal. When the South Africans were butchering Nigerians and other Black Africans, I expressed solidarity with the Nigerian film industry and recommended a boycott of South African TV channels. Ghanaians stood up against the “Nollywood invasion” to do their homework first before working on a win-win strategy with the Nigerians. Inter-African solidarity can work better when there is sincerity and fair-play among us Africans. Why you folks didn’t call me a xenophobe when I was descending on the South Africans? You hypocrites!
Mr. Asiegbu enjoys the freedom of speaking his mind against the corrupt and dictatorial systems in Nigeria but do not want Gambians to enjoy the same human rights. In fact you should clear the mess in your country first were reasonable discourse cannot take place without some you promoting the lazy Igbo-versus-Hausa-versus-Fulani-versus-Yoruba-versus-North-versus-South-versus-indigenes-versus-settlers Apartheid and discrimination attitudes.
HOLLYWOOD STARS ARE NOT ABOVE PUBLIC SCRUTINY
Copying everything American is also a religion to Ejike Asiegbu and many brainwashed Africans who are suffering from low self-esteem. It is therefore not surprising that he wants to compare himself to the American stars with the claims that “over 200 Hollywood stars campaigned for American President Barrack Osama in his two elections.” So what? That means you and over 200 Nollywood and Gollywood wannabe stars will campaign for President Jammeh in the 2016 Gambian presidential elections as appreciation for the Gambian land-grabbing and failed capacity building since 2007? You over-rated hustlers could not convince Nigerians to vote for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election of Nigeria and now you want to play kingmakers abroad. Your only luck in Gambia is that the Yahya Jammeh you are promoting is not Obama. You are however too greedy to see the draconian laws of the Gambia and the hurdles set by Jammeh to prevent fair participation in elections. For instance, ask Jammeh why is he afraid of respecting the rights of us Gambians in the Diaspora to participate in national elections when even countries like Guinea Bissau enfranchise their citizens abroad?
You dishonest desperadoes failed to see that Hollywood stars also challenge impunity. Michael Moore challenged former U.S. President George W Bush over the Iraq war like a real man. The latest apology of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair vindicates Michael More and the countless American filmmakers who spoke truth to power. George Clooney and other film stars campaigned for Barack Obama but they are not going about bulldozing people to accept everything that Obama does. While Clooney is fighting against the mass murder of your fellow Blacks in Darfur, Sudan, you guys are busy exploiting and colonizing your fellow Africans. If you are going to copy Hollywood stars do it better than them as your mediocrity and lackadaisical attitudes will only expose your rotten characters. Anyway, I give you the response that another Gambian compatriot called Maxs got for you:
Ejike, it is indeed foolish to see your attempted personal attack on Mr Sankanu who majority of Gambian people agreed with in his article about you and your so-called actors or actresses scavenging, destroying Gambian culture, exploitation of young vulnerable girls and economic exploitation of Gambian people. Mr Sankanu was very right that majority of Nollywood actors are economic prostitutes who are in The Gambia to take advantage of Gambian people without contributing anything significant to our national development. Today, more people in The Gambia are in jail or prison thanks to mercenary judges from Nigeria and other countries. Dictator Jammeh knows that it will be better and easy to use these dishonest individuals who are hustlers to carry out his illegal orders.
Today our society is corrupted with all kinds of evil things thanks to Nigerian video makers or filmmakers. We do not need your corrupt way of life which has earned you as the most corrupt country in Africa if not the world. Despite your plenty resources, you continue to be laughing stock of Africa due to corruption, lack of goodwill and desire to get rich at all cost without regard to laws or ordinary people. This is fundamental problem that existed in your society and Gambian people do not need foreigners who are only interested in their selfish personal interest. Regarding your comments about Hollywood stars campaigning for American President Barrack Obama in his two elections and they should also be considered scavengers or hustlers, I think that comparison is silly, unintelligent and outright foolish.
Any American actor or actress who associated himself with any despotic dictator in anywhere in the world is called out or condemned. There is always public outcry and public demand immediate stop or disassociation. Almost in all cases they even returned the money acquired from these despotic dictators. Classical example was Beyoncé who performed for former Libyan dictator Ghadaffi for millions of dollars according to the WikiLeaks cables but this money was returned after public outcry. Will Nigerian actors do the same considering the fact that there are thousands of Gambians without land or shelter of their own? The comparison of Nigerian actors to Hollywood actors or stars is absurd in the sense that Hollywood actors have never received any pieces of land from USA government or president Obama. Therefore, it is dishonest, disingenuous and fallacious to compare the two.
What Mr Ejike should have done was to ask these scavengers from Nollywood and Gollywood to return all Ill-gotten monies or lands rather than shamelessly trying to defend their lack of moral values. Public or consumers of their videos or films will hold these actors accountable for their failure to bring awareness of issues affecting them such as Boko Haram terrorism, military dictatorship in The Gambia, corruptions and other negative vices which are too common in our societies.
Giving back to communities where they get their wealth and fame from is what majority of actors, celebrities or musicians are doing in USA. Celebrities in USA are using their money and fame for worthy causes such as advocacy for Better healthcare accessibility for women and children, fight for hunger and poor nutrition, awareness of certain disease process, advocacy for research for cure of certain diseases, advocacy to prevent genocide, political oppression and so on. It is ignorance to suggest that few Hollywood actors or musicians who had performed for the despotic dictators in the past therefore it is ok for Nigerian video scavengers to exploit innocent Gambians for their selfish interest (Maxs, Kaironew.com, 24.10.2015).
NIGERIAN BUSINESSES IN GAMBIA ARE THERE FOR THE PROFITS OF THEIR NIGERIAN SHAREHOLDERS
Lamin from Gambia tells Ejike: Please don’t brag or put your integrity at stake for the “30,000 Nigerian businessmen doing business in the Gambia because of the enabling environment provided by the president” The whole world knows and is fully aware of how much scam comes from your brethren. I am not convinced and can’t be made to believe that your 30,000 in The Gambia are running legit businesses including the so called banks! (Lamin, Kaironews.com, 24.10.2015). Musa Bala Darboe adds:
As the saying goes, when the wind blows, the anus of a fowl is exposed to the world. Ajike Asiegbu has shown his level of despondency and insincerity to the great people of West Africa and allows it floating on the modern media. He is out of arguments to an extend of comparing the private business operation of GT Bank, Zenith Bank in The Gambia to the buffoonery act of his colleagues who are used by the most brutal dictator of our time to cover his bloody killing, cancerous system of governance and incompetence to lead a tiny nation.
If we have to go by Ajike’s argument, why hasn’t his imbecile collaborator Yahya Jammeh gave land as gifts to those Nigerian banks operating in the malnourished Gambian economy?
Fools are men and women who everyone thinks are intelligent but manipulatively used by ignorant leaders to perpetrate their propaganda through meaningless gifts. Who in his right sense will say he or she is not aware of the ruthlessness of Yahya Jammeh in West Africa? If Mr Asiegbu and his colleagues are doomed by material gift to understand the “sell my name” strategy of Yahya Jammeh, they must understand the fact that nothing is permanent except “change“ and the existence of God.
Talking about president Jammeh creating an environment for trade? Indeed he created an environment for anyone who is willing to sing songs of praise while maiming, torturing and killing decent citizens. He has created an environment of hopelessness which forces Gambian youth to come to the conclusion that their banditry regime in Banjul has nothing good to offer. This is evident in the statistics of migrants reaching European coastal areas.
To say Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu’s statement is xenophobic is nothing but abuse of one’s limited vocabulary and mediocrity. We have seen men who use the Holy Books to defend injustice. It’s a shame that Mr. Asiegbu knowing the cancerous character of Gambia’s rootless ruler has ignored all evidence of mass killings, arbitrary arrest, torture, economic malnutrition and force exile but choose to associate himself with a mad man in Banjul. If we need to go by Mr. Asiegbu’s words, it is therefore the responsibility of the same imagery womb that binds us as West Africans to help end the madness in Jollof (Gambia) than enabling him. Well we are not asking you to lead our fight but at least show solidarity.
Truly, Ajike is a joke. If I were him, I’d never give the Nigerian mercenary judges in the Gambia judicial system as part of the regional effort to show oneness of our people. Una no know book abi? Abeggi “gerara hier mein”!
Generally, we as Gambians love 9ja and appreciate the great men of Nigeria who are working selflessly to strip off Yahya Jammeh and his madness. One thing we can’t stand to watch fools like Mr Asiegbu delivering the ill-will of Jammeh.
It’s evident that Jammeh will not be president of the Gambia forever and the rest will surely settle itself as related by Prince Sankanu.
I am made to understand the reason some good people of Nigeria fixed their bets and have Buhari voted in as President is to tackle corruption and greed for material wealth which has, regionally and internationally, framed a great nation ugly.
For the related issue on the Ghana, I will leave it to the spirits of the 40+ Ghanaians butchered by Yahya Jammeh (Musa Bala Darboe on facebook.com/princebubacarrs, 25.10.2015).
If Mr. Asiegbu and his fellow quacks are honest they should find answers to this question: why is it that with all the supposedly massive Nigerian investments in the Gambia, the country is ranked the world’s fourth poorest in 2015 according to the IMF?
HIS CONTEMPT FOR NIGERIAN FILM INDUSTRY PIONEERS
As if his failed attempt to truncate the history of Gambian filmmaking is not enough, Ejike Asiegbu displayed his contempt for the real movers and shakers of the Nigerian film industry when he refused to credit them for their pioneering work. He thinks he will win the trust of foreign investors when he tried to twist my words and label me anti-foreign capital. He claimed that “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…” Rubbish. 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?
Asiegbu’s reference to foreign investment in this regard is hypocritical and shows that he is too senile to even understand the evolution of the Nigerian film industry he claims to be representing as a lousy actor. The truth that scavenger Asiegbu is not willing to accept is that THE NIGERIAN FILM INDUSTRY WAS BUILT BY NIGERIANS FIRST AND NOT FOREIGNERS WHO INVESTED IN NIGERIA as I already hinted above. I don’t expect sincerity from a so called Pan-Africanist and civil rights activist who sees nothing wrong in the killing of over 40 Ghanaians in The Gambia while faking the appeasement of foreign investors and denying the pioneering role of his fellow Nigerians in building their home video industry without outside funds.
I find it also 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.
Why are Europe and USA developing safeguards against cheap and sub-standard Chinese goods that are dumped on their markets? Does this makes current U.S. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel dangerous for building barriers against Chinese destruction of their local capacities? The Chinese are now compelled to adopt Western standards and make concessions behind the scenes in other to do business in Europe and America. The “investor-friendly” Ejike Asiegbu cannot honestly say that he will accept it when the Chinese start making Nigerian movies and flooding the markets with even cheaper DVDs that will nail the coffins of his moribund Nollywood? If President Obama and Merkel are dangerous to their successful peoples and economies, then I am proud to become a “dangerous” Gambian leader when Gambians give me the limited legitimate mandate for it.
NO REGRETS IN TOUCHING NERVES
I did not write my thought-provoking articles to appease common mortals. I stand by every word till the last drop of my blood. I also respect the rights of people to disagree and complain. They have to live with the contents 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 offers of President Jammeh to jail Gambians indiscriminately, they were labelled as “mercenary judges” and concerned Gambians raised their voices. I don’t believe in selective judgements. The home video hustlers have been doing the same at least for the past 10 years and it only fair to challenge them.
I am grateful in observing that the real pioneers of the Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries are not mortgaging their souls to despots across Africa. Ejike Asiegbu and his gangs are just lousy no-bodies in the Nigerian film industry. The responsible big boys and girls of Nigerian cinema are there and I am saluting them for standing in solidarity with the suppressed people of The Gambia. Again we want collaborations between our Gambian CINEKAMBIA Film Industry, Nigerian CINENAIJA Film Industry, Ghanaian CINEGHANA Film Industry, Senegalese SENCINEMA Film Industry, Tanzanian CINEMABONGO and others beyond the “wood” copy-pastism! Just stay away from the human rights abusers and let us sit and negotiate win-win terms for the common good of our Pan-African Cinema systems. We are one African family and agreeing and disagreeing is part of the vibrancy of the true family life.
Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu
Gambian Filmmaker and Scholar on African Cinema
Asiegbu Attempts To Manufacture Xenophobia http://www.kaironews.com/society/asiegbu-attempts-to-manufacture-xenophobia/ (Accessed: 25. 10.2015)
Are Nollywood Stars Scavenging Our Resources? Interview with Prince Abubacarr Sankanu. http://whatson-gambia.com/exclusive/1158-are-nollywood-movie-stars-scavenging-our-resources-interview-with-prince-abubacarr-sankanu (Accessed: 26.10.2015)
Gambian Prince Attacks Nollywood Stars Over Land Gifts By President of Gambia http://www.nigeriansreport.com/2015/10/gambian-prince-attacks-nollywood-stars.html (Accessed: 26.10.2015)
Gambia Ranked 4th Poorest Country, http://www.kaironews.com/news/gambia-ranks-4th-poorest-country/ (Accessed: 27.10.2015)
These Nigerian Actors Abused Human Rights by Collecting Plots of Land as Gift from Gambian President http://naijagists.com/photos-these-nigerian-actors-abused-human-rights-by-collecting-plots-of-land-as-gift-from-gambian-president/ (Accessed: 03.11.2015)