Of Mamma Kandeh’s Sharp Critics

GDC presidential candidate Mamma Kandeh/Standard newspaper photo!

Sometimes you wonder why pettiness has eaten into the brains of some Gambians to the extent that they thread on Yahya Jammeh’s disgusting path. His tribal political path is a no-go area that has no place in our politics.

Despite the diverse nature of our political parties, you still hear some shallow minded Gambians associating opposition parties to a particular tribe. Like Yahya Jammeh, you often hear them calling the United Democratic Party a Mandinka party, despite its deputy leader being a Wolof and you have Gambians of all tribes at the helm. The same breed of Gambians have now turned their daggers at the leader of Gambia Democracy Congress, Mamma Kandeh. Instead of challenging him on his party’s programs, policies or record, these Gambians see his ethnicity, which must not be the case. Of course, each of us belongs to a particular tribe or culture, which in itself is a strength that must be explored. Our strength will only come to light when our diverse people unite around pursuing our collective interest. We must not see each other as Fulas or Mandinkas but Gambians. Our Gambianess must supercede all other things. Period! There is no tribal party in the Gambia, and having tribal majority in any party does not make it a Fula or Mandinka party. For Gambians to make a headway, they must ditch backward thinking. They need to grow so they can live with the reality that there is nothing wrong with associating yourself with people of the same language or culture. This does not translate hatred. Why should Fulas’ endorsement of Mamma Kandeh be associated with tribal politics? If we allow this ugly trend we will soon start labelling non Fulas who endorse Kandeh as self-haters. Once we succeed in sowing seeds of discord, we will lose our Gambian identify which can ultimately lead to bad blood. Let’s not see the ethnicity in our politics, which bears the hallmark of self-defeat. Such a situation helps only the Chief Tribalist Yahya Jammeh, a leader who swore to protect all Gambians, yet he pointed his guns at Mandinkas.

Come on folk, our collective task should be how to defeat a man who has singlehandedly highjacked everything Gambian. Jammeh decides who should live or die.  

Mamma Kandeh is a Gambian who is constitutionally qualified to lead a political party. Let’s therefore give him the space to wrap up his tour before challenging him on his political beliefs or ideologies. Like the late Gambian doyen broadcaster Baboucarr Gaye succintly put it: “allow him to die first before burying him.”



  1. Very true and important words. I hope Gambians desist, as a matter of urgency, from the dangerous waters of tribal politics. For unlike religion which acts as a shield against tribal sentiments, politics easily fuels tribal conflict. We should not indeed, buy into Jammeh’s inflammatory rhetoric of tribal politics or we are in grave danger, both as a people and as a political community. What Gambians should be thinking is: May the best minds win! With tribal politics, no one wins. Thank you Kairo for a very thoughtful comment.

  2. Indeed, the only thing that should count are qualification and commitment to deliver the best for the country, guided by rule of law and the non-negotiable fundamental basic rights for all within our border.

    Having said that, I would also like to allude to the subtle kind of tribalism being launched against the mandinkas inform of accusing them of not supporting other candidates from other tribal origin. It wouldn’t surprise me if at the end of the day, Mr. Kandeh blame his non success, in this farce upcoming election, on the boycotting of polls by people in dominant mandinka areas. That is, he will be legitimising the regime’s crackdown on the UDP-accused of tribalism by the most tribal centred regime in Gambia’s independent history – and also condoning the sworn declaration of that regime’s head to wipe out the mandinkas. I think it can be expected of the mandinkas, in this situation, to back politicians who will stand up for them against the onslaught of a regime wielding power of the gun.

    I believe in Demba Baldeh’s(gainako associate editor ) 7 point preconditions, which would give Mr. Kandeh the credibility he deserves. As the editor rightly points out, we have witnessed many new parties popping up only to die out again. Hence my conclusion is that should Mr. Kandeh implement the 7 points as advised, I believed he will either be in jail like Darboe &Co or become the new president. If on the other hand he is not in the mood to take on the regime head on, I would advice that he join other parties already established for in such a case, he is bringing nothing new to the Gambia’s body politics.

  3. The trbe thing is all rubbish and should be totally disregarded. It’s a human race trying to race the nation forward from bad, to a better stage and to a much better state.

  4. Very well said…The sad fact, though, is that there are far too many people willing and ready to exploit tribe to further political ambitions..

    And that is, perhaps, the gravest danger that Jammeh’s continued stay in power poses to our country, because he gives voice to these people by creating an enabling environment for them..

    Politics should be about issues; not tribe or personalities..I believe Mama Kandeh was an APRC party member and NAM, and if so, then he should be challenged, not only on what he plans to offer to the nation ( in the way of policies,etc), but also on his record, by association, with the APRC for the period that he was a member…His tribe has got no place whatsoever in the discourse, but sadly, many will want it to do..

  5. Bax, I do agree with you on this one that it has nothing to do with tribe but all to do sincerity, party programs and delivering. Mama Kandeh was virtually unknown to most Gambians until May 11, 2016. Now, some are asking questions about his background and what he stands for? Well, few of his blind supporters are pulling the tribal card to try to defend him. I do not think there is nothing wrong asking those questions because Gambians want to know the genuiness of this guy. What has he done while a Jimara MP for APRC party? We just need answer folks.

  6. I listened to his interview on FN, and he came across as level headed, polite, up to date and very likeable.
    Never used to even give his online pictures a second look, but since that interview, I think this guy should be given all the support and chances he needs to make his project a success.
    His answers to all the questions posed were so matured, up to the point and with great humility.
    He got everything sussed out and an action plan for Jammeh himself and post his era, some of which, if i was Jammeh will welcome myself.
    Nothing violent- Eg Jammeh’s future to be decided by the courts, the term limit and his respect for Mr Darboe, OJ etc is just honourable.
    Darboe and his members have proven themselves beyond any doubt how much Gambian lives and The Gambia means to them – I extend my heartfelt salutations to them and may Allah give them the will and strength to bear this hardship.
    And look after their families.

  7. Only respects the man, Mr. Kandeh for what he’ll really prove to be within the public environ, where representatives and leaders shoud do as much as possible to be steadfast in attitude in the name of transparency, to the public’s pettiness.
    In my opinion, ‘pettiness’ might count or affect woefully only our private and domestic lifes and not a vocabulary to be haunted by in the nationales’ domain. At this point in time, i think politicians must try their utmost best to differ from every language to rise themselves to fame and popularity at the dangerous expense of the ordinary citizenry.
    The home to all our differences in the Gambia lies within our ‘heart’ of the multitudes. Certain debates in our African national debates including the Gambia’s, tend to justify prejudice of black people by fascist racists across the world. I agree with @Bourne. It’s all rubbish and distracting. Damn! cultural identy should be reduced to celebrating with clown noses and dancing around for fun and humbly giving around sweets to kids on your knees, in a gesture of rightful love. If our dreams are to make a better Gambia and a better Africa, how far do we think we are getting near that dream being realised with abstract cultural identity sentiments?
    Trying to make oneself a victim of cultural identity prejudice in the Gambia’s politics play field would demonstrate nothing, but parched hypocrisy. Refrain oneself from one’s hideuos sentiments and tactfull incitement of cultural conflict deep down one’s sense of reasoning is a most suitable remedy to the situation.