By Ousman Jarra
There is no such thing as ultra-nationalist Mandingo.
However, there is a Gambian Nationalism, which means a concept of freedom and fulfillment of people in their land. As a creation of God Almighty, people have endowments they look in each other that become an affinity for building friendship, companionship, alliance and it transcends tribe, family, race, gender or sex. This is a universal phenomenon and the Gambia is not different. We have co-existed as tribes, lived together in unison and harmony and inter-married; these give us the ability to look for big things that bring us together than little things that divide us. Was it perfect? No! But the Gambia is only one of the few countries in Africa where citizens are tolerant and their tribal differences have never been reduced to violence, and we want to keep it that way. Nobody criticizes Yaya Jammeh based on his tribal background. Nevertheless, they do because they object to his brand of politics. YAYA JAMMEH took the country back to 100 years like DAVID DIOP wrote “in those days when civilization kicked us in the face” and “monotonous rhythm of the paternoster drown the howling on the plantations” but in his case he recruits the imams and the clergies as cheerleaders to legitimize his system of government while our people suffer under gross human right abuses in the torture chambers and prison system that he referred to as “MY FIVE STAR HOTEL.”
Moreover, he is hell-bent on destroying all the social fabrics of our society. In so doing, he wants to rally all other tribes behind him fight nobody but the MANDINKAS. More than 40% of our population and that majority of the people taking to the street to exercising their constitutional rights will be MANDINKAS. In addition, the majority of thr young men taking the BACK WAY to Europe in search of greener pastures are likely Mandinkas. Also most of the would-be asylum seekers are going to be Mandinkas. Typical of an unsavory regime on its death throes. A regime that will employ all kinds of tactics to stay afloat, but only the fickle-minded will fall victim to your hate-mongering because an overwhelming number of Gambians do not subscribe be to that. Furthermore, OUSAINOU DARBOE like any other politician does not believe in violence because he knows that it could mean the destruction of everything that we stand for as Gambians. Violence results to great loss of lives as well as turn our people into refugees. That is why at the start of the demonstration; he made it categorically clear to his supporters that they must avoid the use og profanities and to desist from harming anyone when they went out to protest. Darboe believes in negotiations to solving differences when it comes to running the affairs of the STATE. Nonetheless, YAYA is nowhere to be found at the negotiation table. I never wanted to dwell too much on YAYA JAMMEH’S ANTI-MANDINGO RHETHORIC because my background is diverse like any average Gambian. Besides, I don’t want him to “set the rules of engagement.” I learn to wrestle in the JOLA tradition and culture and was fortunate enough to be able to sing their wrestling songs and I adore the wrestlers like NYLON BOY and MONGOLI as a Mandingo boy growing up in Janjanbureh (Georgetown) in the 1970’s.
Furthermore, Armitage High School experiences have solidified my tolerance of people from different backgrounds. Armitage is a microcosm of our greater Gambian society, and I was fortunate to meet and live with students from all corners of our Gambia River Basin for the 5 years I spent at the institution. I have developed friendship with students across all ethnic divide and some of these friendships have blossomed into brotherhood. This is who we are as Gambians. We can debate and sometimes tempers flare up and it may seems like blows are about to be exchanged but at the end of the day we extend our hands of friendship. Yaya Jammeh, we know he will do whatever it takes to stay in power; in the first instance he ventured in RECONCILIATION but little did we know that it was meant to portray his image as a peace-maker in order to further strengthen his grip on power. Since that did not work, he now resorts to demonizing the MANDINKAS.
However, it must be crystally clear to him that Mandinkas, like other tribes, are here to stay in the Gambia. They want equal political rights, maintain their dignity and above all, to be seen as equals and not as separate breed. In conclusion, there is no such thing as ULTRA-NATIONALIST MANDINGO. However, there is A MANDINGO NATIONALISM, just like WOLLOF NATIONALISM, SARAHULLEH NATIONALISM, FULA NATIONALISM, KARONINKA NATIONALISM, AKU NATIONALISM, MANJAGO NATIONALISM, JOLA NATIONALISM and all these Nationalisms in a nutshell mean the concept of freedom and fulfillment of people in their land and does not express in a pride to drive the JOLA MAN into the Sea.