Close association versus fear and material gains. There have been lots of noise of late on the problem of Gambian singers. Prominent amongst them is Jaliba Kuyateh and other younger singers who praise Jammeh now and then. Although Jaliba Kuyateh is largely sidelined by President Jammeh and it is no secret the hatred and animosity Jammeh has for Jaliba. Yet sometimes, Jaliba sings Jammeh praises baffles some. I personally see it as a case of self-preservation against all forms of harm that may come Jaliba’s way. However, it is high time he faced any form of risk and stay away from Jammeh altogether.
It is now a common currency among Gambian activists to target our entertainers and lump them among the collaborators of the Jammeh regime. It is a legitimate case for us to see any entertainer who openly praises Jammeh or sings songs of adulations for him as a ‘collaborator’.
The situation is complicated though just like the case of those seeking High Social Status who may not openly praise Jammeh but they appease him and his system so they can be favoured or be seen as harmless.
Singers/musicians just like every other Gambian have a choice at present. It is a tough choice and with our current mentality, not many of them are so afraid that they will not be ready to ‘rock the boat’, i.e making the system uncomfortable.
I have spoken to many entertainers and truly, not many have any love or liking for President Jammeh. And this is true of the ‘Celebrity Seeking’ Gambian brothers and sisters.
What is difficult for them is simply how to maintain a presence in a difficult environment.
Gambian Entertainers only have access to One Television station in the Gambia- GRTS. And without the public seeing them, singers and musicians don’t feel wanted or liked. They also feel they will lose their commercial status.
Some singers complain that, they don’t make much money in the Gambia anyway, hence many of them fading away after 1 or 2 years.
Those among them who promote and praise Jammeh also fall in a difficult corner. Some of them are either lobbied or paid to perform for the APRC or Jammeh himself. And without singing high praises of Jammeh, your earnings is very low if any at all. Hence, it is all a material calculation at the end of the day.
A Poor country that lacks independent commercial media (Television), hence they feel they have no choice but to associate with the tyrant.
Tiken Jah Fakoly in Ivory Coast versus Aicha Kone. Tiken choose to side with freedom fighters against Lauren Gbagbo whilst Aicha Kone decided to side with the man in power. When Lauren Gbagbo fell, Tiken Jah Fakoly earn cult status and became the Ivorian hero, whilst all the pro-Government singers ran to exile in Guinea and laid low.
Hence, the choices is up to our young entertainers. Be careful, you don’t have to sing praises for Jammeh, Gambians will buy your CD or attend your shows…GRTS is not watched by many Gambians anyway, so be dignified and patriotic.
The Celebrity seeking Gambians are even more dangerous. They will comment on U.S elections, EU problems, and avoid the Gambia all together..shame on you.
Be a Tiken Jah Fakoly Gambian singers. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Killer Ace is a shining example for those who want to avoid beholden onto the Jammeh system.
Suntou Touray (Culture Editor)