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…