GRTS Copying Senegal’s RTS

       GRTS Director General Abdou Touray

By Saul Saidykhan

Last week, the young comedian Kitabu Fatty publicly complained about not getting sponsorship from Gambia’s public corporations. Won’t you know it, they found a solution: do your comedy in Wolof, not ‘tribal’ Mandinka and we’ll sponsor you! Think this is a joke? Watch Kitabu’s GRTS show.
See the reason behind the “No to Tribalism’ charade in Brikama some days ago? Do they really think we’re all so STUPID that we cannot figure them out?

There seems to be a desperate attempt to Senegalize Gambia. Like Senegal, there is an arrogant/ignorant tendency to tribalize every Gambian group/language but Wolof. If you speak Fula, Jola, Mandinka, or Sarahule, you’re labeled as being ‘tribal’ unless you speak Wolof. This is not only disrespectful of others, it is dishonest. And contrary to Gambian reality. Fact is, despite the MANUFACTURED narrative, Wolof remains a minority language in current Gambia. Those whose Gambia doesn’t extend beyond the Banjul-KMC area don’t know this, but anyone who is familiar with the country writ-large, knows what I’m saying. It’s NOT an accident that Gambia’s national politicians step away from Wolof when they campaign around the country. The results of the last three elections especially, shows the gap between Yaya Jammeh’s doctored demographics figures and the reality.

Government should be driven by reality, not some concocted NONSENSE.

So, let me be very clear and specific: We are NOT Senegal and will NOT be Senegal! Every language and culture in Gambia will be RESPECTED and valued not by lip-service but by how they’re treated and allowed to be themselves. There is real value and beauty in diversity. The idea championed by Sheikh Anta Jobe that you need to impose one language on a country to forge a nation (something President Senghore REJECTED) is belied by the reality in Switzerland and Belgium where multiple languages and cultures coexist in a united and peaceful nation! No one – from Adama Barrow, to the GRTS Management, to heads of Gambian public enterprises has the right to impose any language or culture on another Gambian under any guise. Senegal is a BAD MODEL to copy. (Significantly, even there, there has been growing push-back against this lingo-cultural imposition since the emergence of Macky Sall. Not to talk about the Cassamance revolt, the basis of which is the lack of respect for the people and culture of the region.) So why are we copying something that is bound to cause us trouble in the future? What gives anyone the right to force the MAJORITY of Gambians who do NOT speak Wolof to watch programs in a language they DO NOT understand? And to couch that arrogance under the shield of “No Tribalism.”

Conveniently, nobody calls out Wolof shunning of international Manding musicians like Demba Conta, Yankuba Sawo, Baye Conteh, Jali Nyama Suso, and Jaliba Kuyateh as tribalist. Even after changing his style by adopting Wolof dancing and drumming in his repertoire, they’d rather patronize some third-rate Senegalese artist than Jaliba Kuyateh! But nope, this is not tribalism.

Have we become a country of liars, cowards, and hypocrites? Why are the Postmen of “No Tribalism” in the Gambia always delivering their message to the wrong address? And they don’t think we’ll notice.

My advice to government is simple: do not allow the disrespecting of any people. Gambians should be afforded the opportunity to enjoy themselves through public media in the language THEY choose. It’s a PLUS that our public media is more diverse than Senegal. It should be kept that way. The heads of Gambia public corporations CANNOT FORCE entertainers to use Wolof in their production as a precondition of sponsorship. This is OUTRAGEOUS and needs to stop immediately. More importantly, those involved in this decision should be removed. They can go work for QTV or like-minded media where they’ll feel at home. But to use our public-funded media to promote some stupid social-engineering agenda is unacceptable! And it will be resisted to the hilt.

We can keep lying to ourselves or tell the truth. Now, I know I’ll be called tribalist for calling this out, something I find entertaining and familiar. So please go ahead and knock yourself out with your phony outrage.

If this government or ANY national politician ignores this, he/she will pay dearly. This is just the FIRST step in stopping this NONSENSE.
Watch this space…



  1. Mulie Dubois

    You are right. Listening to the radio stations today, you will observe a pattern of DJ,s who have Senegalese Wolof dialect which makes me wonder if prominence is given to Senegalese citizens over Gambians.
    With this pattern going on, we are subliminarily being indoctrinated into being a region of Senegal.

    My advice to the owners of the radio stations is for them to employ Gambian DJ,s instead of those from Senegal. Gambians don’t have such opportunities accorded the Senegalese in this country in Senegal.

  2. seringe jobe

    Hope the author is not tribalist himself by uplifting the image of one tribe and suppressing another? Is he not the one trying to cause trouble by castigating innocent Senegal? Should we call Senegal ‘bad example’ because our country’s media outlets want to copy from her? Are we being to Senegal and the Senegalese?
    There is a saying music has not boundary. Being a Mandinka does not mean that the one cannot speak Wollof. How many non-wollofs watch ‘Sumboulou’ series.
    I think we need to have dialogue with any media outlet we want to work with instead of rushing to make trouble steering statements and one-sided stories to confuse our audience.

  3. I would really like to see or hear some hard evidence or corroboration that Kitabu or anyone else for that matter is pressured to choose one language over the other or he won’t get sponsored to air his comedy spots on grts. The people who allegedly took such a decision must be truly ignorant of the consequences of such a move. Translating a sketch of comedy from its language of conception to another, whilst the same time transporting the same contextual meaning is no easy task. It’s time consuming and expensive. Who in his/her right mind would put Kitabu through such, knowing fully well he is struggling with very limited resources at his disposal? That will be wickedness at its pinnacle.
    Having said that, Saul Saidykhan seems to be motivated by sentiments than informed background knowledge about the language ecology of the Sen-Kambiya (Senegambia) region. I also wonder if he has a problem with the presence and entrenchment of two imperial languages in both Gambia and Senegal, English and French respectively. These are the two langauges of power and influence that we (Gambians and Senegalese) should be fighting to remove from the centre of our existence. I am saying, the energy Saul has invested in this article could better be utilized on freeing us from the clutches of colonialism and barbarism. Wollof/Suruuwa/Jollfo is not a threat to the identity, political or socio-cultural position of any ethnolinguistic group(s) in Sen-Kambiya.
    But one thing Saul seems not to understand is the semi-lingua Franca status of Wollof in both countries. This is purely as a result of the linguistic features of the language itself other than any outside influences engineered by any person or group of persons.

    One would expect Saul not to be carried away by the false narrative of “tribalism” in The Gambia. By doing so, he has just given credence to falsehood.
    In conclusion, I would kindly ask Saul to provide the facts I asked for above.
    I will be waiting patiently. If Saul fails to turn up, I will take that as a sign of retreating from an uncomfortable dialogue.
    Yours in the service of Afrikka and the blakk Nation, I remain.

    • S.Saidykhan

      Mr. “Mwalimu”
      I would debate you if you had the balls to state your opinion under your real identity! The fact that you’re hiding your identity behind a Swahili word tells me all I need to know about you. So Gambia is now “Sen-Kambiya”? Keep weaving rubbish for the feeble-minded…

  4. Abdoulie M Jobe

    Chei Afrique. This is a very clear indication and confirmation of the deep, very deep rooted effects of colonialism and everything else it comes with.”The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” (Steve Biko) We cannot even agree to communicate in our own dialects. We are doomed. “Africa will not develop”

  5. I usually won’t have responded to any exchange that contains vulgar language. I am making an exception because that’s what the times call for. Gambia is on the edge and it’s incumbent upon all who love and care for their people to positively get involved with words of reconciliation and deeds that will make the difference.

    Saul, in cyberspace, you wear what fits you. Me “identifying” myself as Mwalimu here does not call for anyone’s scrutiny because that’s totally beside the point. Whether that’s done in Chinese, Swahili, Swedish or Bambara is irrelevant to the topic at hand, too.

    What are you going to debate on? That Wollof has of its own accord attained a semi-lingua Franca status? Or your posturing is lending credence to falsehood by alluding to “tribalism”? Saul debate has a negative connotation to it for me. At least with regards to my presence on this platform. Am using my time here to engage positively with my compatriots. Not to score points.

    No, Gambia is not now called Sen-Kambiya. I used that term for the whole Senegambia region. I even buttress that point in brackets (Senegambia). Go check it once again.
    Why do I use that term? It’s for a very personal reason. I feel Gambia and Senegal should distance themselves from their colonial past, by merging together to be one country and allowing the home languages to take root in our national live. So I used a combination of the generic terms that were used to coin the individual names of the two countries. This can only happen if we will remove English and French as primary official languages.

    How can that idea be equated with “weaving rubbish for the feeble minded”?

    Your article is a far cry from some of the most robust writings you have produced. I believe, you allowed sentiment to ride over logic with some of the assertions you made here. I agree with you that pressuring Kitabu to do his work in a language that he might not be conceiving his ideas in, is tantamount to ignorance and wickedness. However, that’s as far as I will go because the rest is just what it is. A sentimental outburst.

    Now, I will still be kindly waiting for the evidence or corroboration I asked for, so that people of goodwill, will take a stance against that alleged institutional tyranny of The Gambia Radio and Television Services.

    Yours in the service of Afrikka and the Blakk Nation, I remain.

  6. @ Abdoulie M Jobe:

    I think Afrikka will develop if its youths will be ready to engage with their realities constructively.
    Functional democracy requires us to agree to disagree. We can’t censor opinions if we seriously want to transform. That’s the only way we can liberate minds from the oppressors.

    It’s also interesting for me that you said this: “we cannot even agree to communicate in our own dialects”. Leading me to this question: Why do you call our languages dialects?

    Yours in the service of Afrikka and the Blakk Nation, I remain.

    • Abdoulie M Jobe

      Thanks for your response. I honestly didn’t know the difference between dialect and language but I took the opportunity to look it up and understand the differences. Thank you. My English is not good but am going to try to explain my self, eventhough I wish I could write in my own language which is wollof. All I was trying to explain is the impact of colonialism in our developmental aspirations as a people. If it is true that Africa is the cradle of civilization and we were well ahead in the sciences, language and culture, I wonder what happened now and why are we so underdeveloped now and so divided that even a small country like The Gambia, who are almost all related whether you are madinka, fulani, jola or don’t belong to any tribe still have tribal issues that are almost tearing us apart.
      We spend so much valuable time talking about tackling tribalism which means it’s an issue in the first place and in this day and age, we honestly have more pressing issues.
      Thank you.

  7. The liberation of the mind begins with ones self by doing just what you did, Abdoulie. Looking up meanings, researching origins of concepts, digging deeper than what you have been handed and making up your own mind on issues. That’s the practice that generates knowledge and understanding. That’s what the Afrikkan youth has abandoned and replaced it with consumption and desire.

    The quest for consciousness has been taken over by the cravings for material possessions. You make a good impression in that you do search for the truth. Keep it up and stop saying thank you every time. Grins…..

    Now, go and look up the meaning of tribe and digest it. Then look up the meaning of ethnicity. Compare and contrast the two. It will help you understand that there is no “tribalism” in The Gambia. You will realize we only have sectionalist politicians relying on a false narrative to gain, maintain and abuse power.

    Yes Afrikka is the cradle of the human species and the cradle of ALL civilizations. Why and how we came to loose this glory is both internal and external, but more so external. That’s a topic for another day.

    The issue of language should be handled with care because of its sensitive nature. It’s very complex to navigate.
    Having said that, the educated class in many Afrikkan countries has exploited this to its advantage with severe consequences. Think about Rwanda where 800,000 people died for speaking one language or the other, within a span of three months. And all the incitement came from the “educated elites”.

    I hope the above few lines will be food for thought for those engaged in flaming stereotypical biases devoid of any historical facts and contextual realities.

    @ Luntango: I greet.

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