Salikenni Crisis Is Purely Apolitical

sheik_alhaji_omar_ceesay-dI am responding to Ebrima Satou Fofana’s piece, which is all full of inaccuracies. You are hell bent on tarnishing the good name of Alhagie Omar Ceesay who is a great Islamic scholar in Salikenni.

For the readership of this important medium, I would like to set the records straight. Ebrima Satou Fafana’s first blatant lie that Alhagie Omar Ceesay dabbles in politics is complete fallacy. He has never engaged in politics. By claiming that this scholar has interest in politics is deceptive and complete lie.

Ebrima Satou claimed that Alhagie Omar wants to claim the mantle of imamship of Salikenni is another lie. In fact, Fa Illo Ceesay used to come to Alhagie Omar to seek Quranic knowledge. For many years he had been taught by Alhagie Omar. Through Alhgie Omar, Fa Illo knows how to deliver  kutbah (summons). Ask even the children of Illo or Imam himself. They will admit what I am writing if they are truthful.

Another lie of Ebrima Satou Fofana is that the poor Illo contributed to Alhagie Omar’s studies in Saudi Arabia. How can that be true when Alh Omar could even be older than Illo? When Alhagie Omar went on his studies Illo could not even afford himself let alone sponsor someone else. A little lesson for Ebrima is that Alhagie Omar was sent to Mauritania to study and memorise the Quran when he was 7 years old. After several years, he came home and was later awarded scholarship by the Gambia government in the late 70s.That’s how Alhagie Omar acquired his education and not through the help of the poor people of Salikenni as you claimed.

For over 30 years, Eid prayer summons have been done by Alhagie Omar with previous Imams. He will recite in Arabic and the other Imam will translate it or vice versa. Any one from Salikenni can attest to that. The same tradition continued with Illo as the imam until this Eid prayers when he (Illo) decided to side-line decades old tradition. He asked someone else to do it who is an illiterate without consenting with Alhagie Omar. After the Eid prayers as usual, Alh Omar got up to do the sermon with him but to his surprise he was told to sit down, for he would no longer to do it. He was told someone else – an illiterate – would take his place. Some people objected to the choice of Illo. Ilo got the imamship through the tradition and not the level of his education. Why would he flout the same tradition in a broad day light?

The truth is that the problem started when the then leader of Ceesay Kunda clan, Alhagie Lalo Dibba Ceesay (may he rest in peace) with other elders selected Alhagie Omar and some one from Ceesay and Darboe Kunda clans to serve as deputy imams to Ilo Ceesay. Though he is not well versed in Islamic knowledge but Ilo attained imamship because of lineage. Traditionally, those classed as fathers (uncles) get the imamship even if they are not educated. Some illiterate imams however nominate an educated person to lead prayers.

For over ten years Illo has been side-lining his deputy imam. Instead of giving Alhagie Omar his due, Illo would delegate other people to lead prayers when he is not around. This continued until one Friday when Imam Illo’s delegated deputy imam messed up prayers. It was then that Ceesay Kunda clan asked Alh Omar to perform his deputy imam duties. Imam Illo was asked why he had been sidelining Alhagie Omar, he said he feared being overshadowed by the well versed scholar. Hence forth, Ceesay Kunda clan insisted that Alh Omar must be the deputy imam whether Imam Illo liked it or not. Imagine the frustration of being blessed with Islamic knowledge but your effort to teach your people is being blocked just because some people fear they will not be heard. I rest my case.

Abdoulie Ceesay



  1. In love with Gambia

    I think this is the truth. Not only in this case, but this is happening everywhere in the Gambia.

  2. My response to Mr. Fofana. Why is this being sensored Kairo News?

    Mr. Fofoana, I found it very hard to believe that you are a journalist. If it is a self claimed journalism that’s fine but if it is something that you learned at an academic institution I feel sorry for you. In your writings, you seem to have a rage and the piece is very subjective. Objectivity should be key when writing a story in order to let the readers make the judgement but in this case you are the writer and the judge and you want your readers to succumb to it. The Gambia is a very divided country at this time and you try to inject politics into this issue in order to misinform your readers. You just don’t write a story as a journalist purely based on emotions. I hope you rescind this piece and apologize to your readers. Word of advise, next time you write please refrain from using those big word because it doesn’t make you look cool. Your writing skills are horrible and you have very a steep learning curve to explore. Sorry if you feel offended but it is the truth and I cannot hide from the truth. -:)

  3. Nothing but the truth shall prevail, well said Abdoulie.

  4. Abdoulie Ceesay and Lamin sisay , we heard your explanation about the current issue which affects your family and entire community of salikene. I Would encourage you ( the sons of Alagie Omar ) to continue to advocate for peace in your town and also play leading role to resolve this problem amicably. We must not allow Jammeh to divide us Gambians. Personally I always blame Jammeh’s politics in majority of problems in communities in The Gambia. So even though you claimed , this issue has nothing to do with politics , I believe Jammeh’s politics of division and hatred has role in it . Regardless of whether I am wrong or right , I would still urge and encourage you guys to prevail on your dad and the rest of elders in the town to peacefully solve this crisis. People of salikene and Baddibu are one people and they must not allow an evil leader who has no connection with the people to Create divisions and hatred.

  5. I know imam cessay very well so ever said what we all know he have knowledge to lead at any were so he never involved in politics that is not him people say the truth about imam cessay u know god knows.we are looking at the truth can we say it?I rest my case to u all.

  6. Lovely Jobly

    We should all pray so that it can be solve amicably…these things happens now and then but we should all pray for peace to prevail. In communities like this is important to know that we are all the same family. I hope the media will not be the place for anyone to give or express his or her anger. Please call each other in secret and try to solve it within the community level.

  7. Any update news from salikenni ? Ceesay family should work out the differences between them .we are muslim and in Islam we shouldn’t be fighting one another because of leadership no need .may Allah Made us understanding and respect one other…God bless salikenni

  8. Well said abdoulie this is the truth for u Ebrima fofana I find it difficult to believe that u are a journalist cu’s a well educated journalist wouldn’t fabricate stories like this


    Whenever muslims disagree on the sayings of the holy prophet s.a the final judge is the holy quran

    We can follow our traditions its ok, but if our tradition have conflict of interest with Islam then we should put tradition away.

    What am trying to explain is that, we the muslims are asked to choose our imams based on who is well versed in the holy quran. If both have equal knowledge then the one with more knowledge on the hadiths (sayings of the holy prophet s a) if they have equal knowledge on the hadiths, i guess they go through age am not very sure and would like to stop there.

    The problems with these people’s is that they mixing islam with tradition. The one who is well knowledgeable should be selected as an imam period.

    • I think there are many more psychologic and moral criteria surronding the required qualities of one to be selected an Imam without any complications in doing so, ‘when’ traditional and cultural values are as much as possible avoided in the process….

  10. Abdoulie,

    The Imam and deputy Imam selection process is based on customs, imam from ceesay kunda and deputy from darboe kunda, it may not be the right way for the current time but it has worked for more than 100 years. You are right about Alhagie Omar being a scholar and was awarded a scholarship by GG to study in Saudi, but there is more to the story that you are letting on.

    My advice to all the people wanting to impose Alhagie Omar as imam is to understand that if tradition is cast aside the imam position will be open to all of Salikenye and not only to members of the Ceesaykunda clan. This is likely going to be end result, his supporters cannot buy everybody and they should stop exploiting petty inter family jealousies.

    It is not necessary to expose all inter family feuds thus the reason for the coded language, those in the know will understand what am referring to. Alhagie Omar himself is a decent man who had the opportunity to be the imam but at that time he did not want to stop teaching, others are pushing him to advance their own image.

    Momodou L Sise

  11. I think I have now formed a fairly good idea of what happened in Salikeni and why it happened or rather, what may have been the underlying factors that led to the Koriteh day clashes, having read both narratives and various comments from people who seem to be natives of Salikeni.

    I am convinced that the totality of information before us does not support claims that it is politically motivated, and anybody who, therefore, persistently claim that this crisis is politically motivated is guilty of ignoring, as well as substituting the information before us, with the figment of their own imagination : an attitude that has become all too familiar to me from certain individuals..

    I hope the current Imam, who now seems reluctant to continue with the tradition of allowing the much educated cleric, Alh. Omar Sisay, to lead the I’d Prayers, is reassured of the security of his position, as he seems to feel threatened by this long standing arrangement.

    I also think that the community of Salikeni, in particular, and many others around the country, should depart from traditional selection processes that put lineage above everything else, including qualifications, eligibility and suitability.

    Tradition is fine until it conflicts with common sense, established (international/civilised) standards and scientific discoveries. Tradition needs to be thrown into the dustbin of history, where it belongs, if it becomes a source of conflict in light of the above..

    My sincere prayers go to the community of Salikeni for a common sense resolution to this problem. Allah (SWT) did not reveal His Message and Religion for it to become a source of so much conflict, hatred and destruction. It is our misunderstanding of Allah’s (SWT) Message that has led to so much turmoil in human history, whether that’s religious or not.

    May Allah ( Swt) guide the whole of humanity, directly or indirectly, to a true understanding of His Message and Deen. Amen…

  12. Bax , stop your denial and hypocrisy. The eyewitness said it has political connections . Please read his statements before you castigate others . Thank you .

    • My views were formed on the basis of information before me at the time, which EXCLUDED the “eye witness” account.. So think before you react…

      • Haven’t you seen it right before your eyes that @Bax emphatically FORMs ideas and views.
        Isn’t forming ideas and views souping up my own plate??
        You didn’t reason from information to get yourself convinced with regards to discovering what is true in a community’s dispute, but instead, you FORMED ideas and views out of it.
        It is only more horror coming from camp Bax.

        • What…!!! Don’t you form and hold views on things that you comment on in this forum….? That would be a strange claim indeed…

          • No, I reason to hold views for this matter and not emphatically ‘forming’ them. My views and opinions in democratic debates and forums be rather borne by good reasoning than formation.

      • @ Bax, This is what happens when people write on Kaironews just for the thrill of “engaging” or “commenting” or “attacking”. Views are formed from unjustified extrapolations, and conclusions drawn from unconvincing and biased “evidence”.

        • I am not sure about the point you are trying to make, but I find it a bit disrespectful to view people’s participation in discussions and exchanges as “thrill” driven…

          Furthermore, if a person is going to.form an informed view on an event that they didn’t witness, they have to rely on statements or testimonies from others, especially those who know what happened, either as eyewitnesses or otherwise..

          If you have any objections to that approach, say so and give your reason(s)..That’s how we can become positive contributors and learn from each other.

          The information before us, including that of the “eyewitness”, does not support claims that the politics of Yaya Jammeh was the motivation or cause of the Imamship conflict in Salikeni. That’s my view, but if you disagree, then the onus is to show why and how…


    Responding to ABDOULIE CEESAY Report, you said to set the records straight. But i believed you are wrong in the process in many aspects.
    You right that ALH OMAR CEESAY taught ILLO CEESAY how to deliver sermon (KUTUB) and even 2000’s born can attest to this.

    Again your report make sense that ALH OMAR was sponsor by Government of the Gambia in 70’s to study in Saudi Arabia.

    You know where you are wrong? And anyone who read eyewitness report on EID PRAYER incident will know that you are wrong and biased on your reporting.
    ALH OMAR was given this role in 21st century ……….NOT 30 YEARS AGO. The late deputy IMAM ALFA LALO DARBOE used to recite in Arabic and the Imam ILLO CEESAY will translate it. (confirm from ALH OMAR).
    Another biased reporting on the day of EID PRAYER i am sitting right behind ALH OMAR (both him and ALFA LALO DARBOE the then deputy IMAM taught me in salikenni school – I have huge respect for both) ……. ALH OMAR never got up to do the sermon with IMAM? ILLO CEESAY chose BABA BARROW (who you branded illiterate and i tell you he recite the whole sermon while ILLO CEESAY translate it in my present) and ALH OMAR remain HUMBLE , BUT HE never see end to the SERMON as you claimed, he left when SEDIA his SON interrupted the SERMON.
    this shows that you are not present and therefore wrong reporting.
    Another incorrect reporting, you said CEESAY KUNDA elder during the time of late ALH LALO DIBBA as head of clan agreed to choose ALH OMAR as deputy IMAM? You are wrong; during late ALH LALO DIBBA time late ALFA LALO DARBOE was still a deputy imam and he past away less that 3 years ago (if i can recalled) how conflicting is that? You said for 10 years ILLO CEESAY have been neglecting your father role as deputy IMAM? ALFA LALO DARBOE was a deputy IMAM 5 years ago.


    No one is trying to blocked your FATHER ALH OMAR CEESAY, but himself he is well educated and know ISLAMIC RULING in settling disputes let him solve it by keeping himself from all this IMAMSHIP …….. after all IMAMSHIP is for ALLAH and not for this world.

    ILLO CEESAY never fear to be overshadowed by ALH OMAR as he have humble and dedicated IMAM for SALIKENNI for over 20 years and every Salikenni KAN will stand by him to his dead except ALH OMAR sons and supporters.





    • Thank you, Proud Lambai Kaa, for your intervention and input to help provide a more balanced and complete picture of this crisis.

      The fact of a conflict of Imamship/Deputy Imamship, leading to a fist fight on I’d day, has definitely been established beyond doubt.

      What is not clear is why Alh.Omar, who used to be honoured with the privilege for a number of years consecutively, was not allowed to recite the Arabic Kutba this year, as this seems to have been the cause of interruption by his son, which led to the fight..

      Was there any indication, prior to the I’d gathering, that Alh.Omar will not be involved in the Kutba…?

      I am curious because though the Imamship conflict is a long one, the Imam had allowed Alh.Omar to perform this role for a number of years…Something must have happened for the Imam to change that arrangement..

      Does anybody know what it is/was…?

  14. In Salikenne or elsewhere in the Gambia, people of the Islam faith should be able to select their Imam based on formidable criteria stipulated in its teachings. When you make a personality and intellectual contrast amongst Islamic scholars, there can always emerge a more qualified person among them. Traditional and cultural honors are not among those criteria in my little shed of light.