I’m A Proud Mandinka “Village Boy”



If you are a Mandinka be proud of it. If you are Sarahule, Njako, Serer, Wolf, Fula, Jola, Karoninka, Aku and all other tribes in our belove country be proud of your tribe. I am going to speak on my own behalf (personal experience) knowing well many will identify themselves in my narrative. Hence, focus on what and how it is to be a Mandinka in the Gambia and for that matter from a proud Mandinka heritage. I will take unto this task with all due respect to all other tribes in the Gambia. In the Gambia, we are all born and raised in cultures and traditions within our tribes which makes us unique and who we are. The Gambia is a land of tribes, cultures and traditions which has coexisted side by side in peace and harmony for centuries with love, hosptality and understanding amongst tribes. Our Gambian flag and the national anthem can attest to that truth and stands to be challenged. The oneness of the nation is not indispute here and efforts by some to bring us to that point with false allegations and mere fright policy should not succeed.

I was born in the North Bank Division at a village called Baddibu Banni. In Baddibu Banni a predominant Mandinka village I could only speak the Mandinka language until I was 8 years. My parents like many other parents moved to Banjul where I started my primary school at Malfa Primaay School in Banjul. At home Mandinka has always been the language of communication. During those days I got the best upbringing in the context of the Mandinka culture, language and tradition. It takes a whole village to raise and nuture a kid in many rural Gambia contarary to urban areas. This is because in a village everyone is acquainted with each other and a village is seen as one entire community bound in the same destiny. When a child grew up in that climate of care and respect for all, it makes no difference anymore where that child eventually and ultimately resides late. He or she has already been permanently clothed in the cloth of selfrespect and respect for others. You are taught early in life that what is bad in the villages is equally bad in the cities. The people you acknowledge as mothers, fathers, sisters, uncles, aunts in the villages are the same as in the cities and therefore deserves equal respect. In another words, anyone att the age of my mother och my father deserves the same respect until they are proven otherwise. That means repecting yourself will earn you respect. This is not exclusive to any tribe but a universal code of conduct.

In my Mandinka family and for sure in many families, home is everything and home is for everybody and no one dares ask a question when a stranger comes to that home. Hospitality is above everthing else. What comes next is define by GOD because we just don´t know and we don´t ask. The stranger should be taken care of because someone amongst the family might one day be a atranger too some where. Hence we believe what goes around comes around. This is one of the mentalities and the pillars of the Mandinka tribe which has existed and still existing so to speak.

In Banjul, during my school days for some reason which I can´t really explain I was the one who is expected to speak the language of my Banjul peers but not the other way round. I must hasten to say I had never had a problem with that. I got along with all my peers as well as my neighbors. My parents were renting in a compound in the capital Banjul like many other parents with many different tribes and everyone gets along quite well. In Banjul during those days tenants share the same restroom, bathroom and collect water at the same place with smile and happiness. Kids of different backgrounds go to school together, play together and party together. I and my siblings became translators for our father and mother because they moved to the capital Banjul at the age of adulthood and the common language in Banjul then was beyond their comprehension. Both my parents didn´t attend school but tried their best and couldn´t just make it perfectly with the language of the Banjulians. They were never the least shy to speak the language of the then majority of the capital even though they found it really tough but they gave it a try.

We the ”Villag Boys” owe a lot to our parents for taking the bold decision to give us the the education they themselves couldn´t achieve. I for one cannot imagine not been able to read and write.

My parents then moved to the kombos namely Kanifing South and the same trend continues. We were among the first settlers of KMC meaning my family welcomed almost everyone in Kanifing South. Our home in Kanifing South is a Mandinka home with six different Gambian languags spoken in the compound. This is the Gambia many people indentify themselves with. Not the Gambia of division and polarization as som will.

My upbringing from the village of Banni in the North Bank to the capital Banjul to Kanifing South up to this present day has never changed. I got along with all other tribes never at once reflecting that there is a problem so huge that we cannot engage in a constructive and consensus dialog for the future of our country. My peers can be found in all tribes, and cultures. They are welcome and accepted in my family and the same with the families of my peers. This is for me the Mandinka family I grew up and I guess many others do.

This is the Gambia we all very well know existed before the advent of that cruel person in the name of Yaya Jammeh. The Mandinka tribe is and has always been friendly to all tribes and equally so from the other tribes. There has always been reciprocity between tribes in the Gambia. It was only during this past 22 years with monster Jammeh that we have lost our sense of unity and oneness as a nation. Hence a vicious calculated campaign of incitement to violence and hate propaganda was launched to put Gambia’s tribes against each for the interest of few to prolong their taste for power and corruption.

Bigotry, Prejudice, vilify, inferiority, tribalism, racism against other tribes and people are strictly forbiforb within the Mandinka family and community that I grew up, and yes I gues so is the case all over. Many people came to know and can tell the meaning of tribalism and racism only when they came to the European soil not before. It has never been a Gambian phenomena as it is today.
I am saying this because I am a mandinka of decent and I speak only for my self as a mandinka. Others can equally give their own narratives and I bet you will see many similarites as we are all Gambians. For those of you who are not familiar with the Mandinka tribe I hope you get something good out of this and understand that what unify us is far stronger and greater than what divide us.

On a final note. The home we all come from, the parents we decend from define who we are and what we are able to say and not to say out of respect for our families and tribes. My dad (May his sold RIP) use to tell me in Mandinka son, what differentiate you from all others is from whom you decent from (parents) and where you come from (home). Otherwise you are capable of saying and doing anything and nothing will come out of it. But you are constraint of these two vital factors (Parents and Home).
If this is the Gambia I grew up as a ”village boy” and can extensively narrate such a beautiful coexistence between Gambia´s diverse tribes how comes we are where we are today? My narrative is a reflection of what Gambia is and who we are as Gambians.

President Barrow speaks different languages in the Gambia. Why this time around should there be difficulty to accept his speaking of the Mandinka language? I have personally heard and seen the President spoke Fula, Wolf, Sarahule and there was no noise at all. After all the Presisent is a Gambian with the same rights as all other citizens. Please, enough of this SANDBOX POLITICS.


Alhagi Touray



  1. Alhagie Touray ,
    You have written a brilliant and well articulated article full of wisdom and facts about the mandinka tribe and Gambians peaceful co-existence for decades. I think what is happening in the country is political correctness and lack of honesty to accept the truthful nature of tolerance of Mandika tribe . Example , look at the evil man who has ruled the country for 22 years. The man came from tiny tribe whose population is less than farafenni. The population of farafenni alone is bigger than the entire foni but in the Junta transition period the same evil man was approached by mandinka elders who never believed in tribalism . Jammeh was installed into presidency by mandinka majority because they accepted him as a Gambian first and foremost. When Jammeh designed a plan to eradicate or pose existential threats to mandinkas in The Gambia he became history in the same year he threatened the majority. Literally speaking , Jammeh was installed into presidency by mandinka majority and was defeated and exiled by mandinka majority. I think the funniest thing is that it was the another mandinka leader Conteh who saved his life from Ecomig forces . Jammeh himself has always benefited from mandinkas generosity . This was evidenced when a mandinka Baddibuka businessman offered his mother a compound to sleep at the time the old woman was homeless.
    President Barrow is a smart politician and I hope he will continue to listen to majority of citizens but not just to social media warriors many of who have no cultural orientation and lack basic understanding of the Gambian people and politics . Any politician who makes stupid mistake of being seen as anti-mandinka will never be president of The Gambia. This is the final word . Anyone who disagrees can ask former Dictator Yaya Jammeh .

  2. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo)

    Beautiful story Alhagi. If I was editing it I would edit out the last paragraph – but keep the last sentence.

  3. Kinteh (kemo)

    Our heritage is a source of pride and guidance but should not blurr our obligation to project an all encompassing national identity. A lot of people across the Gambian society share with you the “village boy or girl” experience. This aspect of identity is shared by the entire Gambia ethnolinguistic diversity. Let’s continue to be a fervent champion of strength in diversity. Words and statements that may create the sense of WE against THEM must be avoided.
    No grudges meant! Thank you.

  4. Kemo Touray

    Thank you my brother, you have written well. I have nothing to add to it. What a brilliant job!

  5. Alhagi Touray

    Thank you very much for your comments and complements. We are interrelated and bound by one simple destiny.

  6. AB Sajar

    Thanks Alhaji!
    In as much as we live side by side one must not forget about your roots! The history of the great people of Manding has everything to go! Respect for oneself and the rest!
    The Mandinka tradition and culture prepare her sons and daughters for serious challenges in ones lifetime!
    I remember in the late 80’s and the 90’s in my earlier years in high school in Banjul, me and peers from the province (country) used to be bullied because of our lack of speaking a different languages (from ours)! It only makes us better persons. Today mejority of us can speak that particular language fluently! Very nice I love the people! And I will never blame anyone else for those episodes! Having said that, I love myself and my culture! Because “Im A Proud Mandinka Village Boy”!

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