Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Dance of Jamba Jabally-

By Suntou Touray
The stage was set and matched. The audience came from all parts of the neighbouring villages. The heat of day overshadowed by the gentle breeze. The birds slowly flying to their layers and the chicken walking gingerly to their dens.
The call to prayer was about to be made. Children under 18 bound for the shelters, the old custom is to avoid exposing children just as night fall begins. The devil’s advocates roam inflicting harm on defenceless children. Sincere believers answering to the commands of God. Not the gods in any way.
The scene was Jendeh, a small Hamlet, one and half miles away from Darsilame, a twin village. The road leading to Jendeh is red grabble dusty and musky. The Hamlet maintains it rich customs. Festival of celebrating local customs occurs annually.
The events dates are such that, no calendar is needed to know when it’s due. People just know it. The ladies paety dance, the orobattete, and occasional kajo take precedence over other festival programs. Yet, no man can talk about the Jendeh festival without the kankuran and Jamba Jabally competition.
The kankuran is well known and likeable. He dresses in a costume of green leaves and red fara wonbo. He maintains decorum of unique styles, a style symbolised by the way he walks and talks. The kankuran talks but only to the jobo (guide). The guide is needed because the kankuran is supposed have his face covered. As some Mandingo culturalist would say, the jobo is the link between the mystical and the people. The kankuran of the wula or forest, being among people requires an mediator: the jobo. The jobo makes sure the drummers sound the right tunes for the kankuran, each kankuran has his unique dance moveees. What a spectacle!
The Jamba jabally on the other hand, is very different. It is uncommon in many other places. Jamba Jabally is dressed in a costume of a special green leaves. The leaves of a Jalo take the entire composition of the Jabally’s costume. He is a mystery figure in the kankuran circles. He talks but in slow and quiet tune. He dances in whirling way, he has a unique song that blend well with his dance and song.
The Jamba Jally on the Jendeh festival was so entranced by the slow drumming and clapping that, he never realise a kankuran was stealing the show from him. He sings songs like, fito fee malala jabally la fito yee malamala, hanin nman nyi nya danko nna fito yee malamala. (let the leaves shine, let jabally’s leaves shine, even if i am ugly, all that matters is let my leaves shine).
Sana a newThe kankuran broke a serious taboo, a kankuran doesn’t dance to the redeem of Jamba Jabally. He sits and watches the jamba jabally as a mark of respect. But not Sana, he was slogging it out with the Jamba jabally on Jamba’s tune and song. Jamba turn around towering over the mini kankuran. He made all gestures for Sana to stop but all falls on deaf ears.
Ifansu Juloma (Dance to your own redeem)
Jamba patience ran out. He became angry and bitter. How dare you! He Thought. Jamba gingerly went to the drummers and told them to change the tune. The drummer starts using the drum to talk to Sana. The drummers’ couple with Jamba Jabally start the ifansu julo ma song. Sana still continues dancing to that song and dance as well.
There is no option left for Jamba but to be proactive. He went politely to Sana the mad apprentice Kankuran and said “ifansujulo maa” (dance to your own music). Sana still couldn’t understand what is going on.
The truth is, that festival was Sana’s first day as a kankuran. He lacks all knowledge of the kankuran world. He doesn’t know the rules or regulations. The rituals and mannerism. Sana’s day ended badly. The Jamba Jabally strike Sana with his sword. Sana ran through the crowd, perplexed as to what has happen. The Jamba Jabally finally took hold of his residence and start singing other lovely songs free from interruption.
Ifansujulo Maa became taboo for sana.
I then knew that drums can talk. How interesting.
This story is a village childhood memory.

The Mandingo History In Islam

A brief account: By Suntou Touray
Like other West African tribes that embraced the religion of Islam in the 10th century AD or even well before then, the Mandingos were no passive Muslims. Their conversion into Islam from historical record indicates that of embracing the faith by free will.
In this short historical narrative, I will trace the periods that the Mandingos accepted Islam and their role in its spread in other regions. This short historical piece is necessary as a counter and brief response to the Christian missionary who is active at present in targeting the Mandingo speaking people with effort to convert them into Christianity.
Close observers have come across the active missionary activities geared towards influencing the Mandingo people to abandon Islam and Accept Christ. Their effort is an age old struggle and the missionary is well aware of the difficulty that lies ahead in exposing the Christian faith to the Mandingos.
Mandingos who are monitoring these developments have come across websites that tries to convey the message of the bible in the Mandingo language. Others before them have tried to persuade the Mandingo tribe into accepting Christianity but ended up in failure. The current age is that of technology whereby messages can be embedded in different articles either to inform or mislead.
The Christian Missionary is aware of the difficult task ahead, but since they belief that salvation is only attainable through Jesus Christ and that the bible extol them to pass the good news to every corner of the earth. That task to them is noble and rewarding; therefore, the Mandingo which happens to be stubborn is the face of continuous missionary onslaught wouldn't be let off easily.
The short response to the missionary and their host is therefore to highlight to them, the history of the Mandingo tribe in regards to Islam and why their efforts will continue to be fruitless.
The Home of the Mandingos:
Mali Empire arose after the fall of Ghana Empire. In 1559 Ramusio describe his encounter with the Mandingos in Mali and the general wellbeing was narrated in detail. Windwood Reade (1873) describe of the Islamic nature of the Mandingos in Mali. For detail on his accounts look for the (African sketchbook Vol. 1 Page 303). In the book Reade emphasis the active missionary nature of the Muslim Mandingo. This goes to explain that, Islam reached the Mandingos without force.
The Kano Chronicle confirmed that, Islam reach the Hausa tribe through the Mandingos, the time range according historian Palmer (1908) was between “A.D 1349-1385” the information is contain in ‘the journal of African society Vol. IX P.161’. The Hausas like the Mandingos are identified with Islam mixed with their respective traditions.
The legend of Mansa Musa and his pilgrimage to Mecca instil in Mandingos a pride of glorifying the message of Islam. Mansa Musa whom some oral historians referred to as Kankan Musa Touray commissioned the famous mosque in Timbuktu. That mosque is a source history and pride for Mandingos and early Mali muslims.
The Mandingo culture like other West Africans was full of superstition in many kinds. Preaching a message to them about God having a son will only trigger a straight forward rebuff. It is rather better for them to go back to age old customs of venerating the dead and the ancestor’s spirit than taking the son of God as his co-equal.
The Mandingo language itself although rich with words and phrases has borrowed a lot from the Arabic language in matters of religion. These borrowed words are used in every day conversation to such an extent that, speakers hardly remember the origin of the words use. Words like Jumo, Salo, Allah, Ameen, and many more words or statements with religious connotations are Islamic is reference.
To abandon the Islamic faith means, cutting chunk off the tradition and language, which all proud Mandingos would never contemplate. Also the fact is that, Mandingos have encountered Christian missionaries in the Gambia during the colonial days. The marabout fighters during the Soninke Marabout war did engage the British, that makes them bold and determine to fight even more according to a British colonial governor d’Arcy (1863).
The attempts to offer Christianity to Mandingos will hardly work since the life style and customs have become so intertwine with Islamic ideals, that adopting another faith entails de-linking with the community.
Another issue why recent designs wouldn’t sway the Mandingo to accept Christianity is the fact that, the concept of God in Christianity is less clear than even in paganism. One vital aspect of the classically deep rooted Mandingo society is that; many would swore to restore to their sonninke roots by drinking alcohol in an unlikely event that an undesirable incidence happen that disrupt their faith than find console in Christianity as a source of strength for the misfortune. Islam to a Mandingo is like his culture, his tradition, bits of his language and now his social tool.

Furthermore, the mosque became a source of history and pride where every matter is discussed from the happy occasion to the sad.
May God keep us on Islam. Ameen.

The Distorted History of Islam By Orrientalist

Part 1 By Suntou Touray
The perceptions we have of each other is such that, genuine dialogue is stifle and tugged away in some stinking lock room.
Since every society, community, tribe, race or religious group take sides. We each stand behind our own barricade and think, perceive or assume that we can detect in the action and response of the opponent terrible faults we can use to tarnish them in every given opportunity.
The values of us talking about what really matters get lost in the peddling of erroneous information. Yet our communications, comprehensions and information transmission don’t occur in a vacuum. It has become a habit of many to wilfully distort facts and refuse to see things in the right context and perspective, yet this people still wish people to take their wrongful and deliberate analogies serious. They have coined all sorts of criminal terminologies ready to tag the opponent with it even though they are hardly free from the crimes they label at others. Amazingly, a one world ideal is what is being promoted behind all the debates for peace and togetherness.
The western image of the others is neatly constructed by the orrientalist whose main aim was to help shape the cultures and religion of others. The strategy of the orrientalist has always been hiding behind scholarly and academic works usually formulated out of context to slowly destroy the other.
Wyn Davies accurately observer that, “in a ‘western’ secular world where religion is relegated to personal preference and minor matters of conscience and where God has been killed, people who takes their religion seriously appear not only out of step with modern times but quite abnormal.”
She went on to state that, the action of religious people are “judge against the backdrop of a bloody conflict between organise religion and forces of reason and liberty that has nothing to do with their own history.”
The views of Muslims are disregarded by the ultra-secularist who use their dominance over the Christian religion to ridicule and held every other religious person with contempt and abhorrence.
Sensible readers and observers should be able to see the continuation and peddling of cynical and contemptuous views by those who agree whole heartedly with the dangerous works advanced by the western historian who elevate their legacy above all others. The west through its institutions of learning has fashioned intellectual cultural tools with which they attempt to explain Islam and Muslims. Academic Institutions like the University of London’s SOAS were created just for that. In fact google the reason why SOAS existed and you will see what i discussion here. The role of SOAS is to educate eminent British men who are to assume the role of ruling the colonies. ‘Know about them before you go to them’. They also try to pick and choose collaborators among the colonised subjects and make them think like the masters. In simple terms ‘brain washing’.
The imagination of the average westerner is distorted even before encountering a single Muslim.
Sarden Sarder observe a pertinent conflict of interest on the western orrientalist intentions, the claims that, they the orrientalist are at an objective position to write about Islam and that their views should be the only true held account of Islamic history. Yet Sarder further analysed that “to make a quarter of mankind voiceless appendages to their own history and identity is to invite conflict. To consign a fourth of humanity to the dustbin of erroneous history is a lunatic action that invites catastrophe.” This is what Tamsier has been doing here anytime he commented on an Islamic topic. The readers that are affected with apparent illness from distortion take the response from Muslim as intolerant to dissenting views.
I will accept and confides that no society or community today is exempt from the western influences in some way. But for a sincere and genuine Muslim, his beef is not with the west in toto, but ideas that are overtly and covertly attempting to make Islam criminal, and therefore offer the Judo-Christian ideals as an alternative.
We have in Islam the purity of believe, of understanding God without going into any funny rigmaroles. Islam is a continuation of prophet tradition that ended after the death of the noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The west and some lazy Muslim takes the western view of tolerance to mean accepting everything the west throw at us, any questioning and rejection borders on intolerance and fanaticism. The cherish universal notion of fair play, equality and justice is lost in misinformation of bias coverage’s. How can those who hold the power to declare war and suffering on you lecture you on rights and justice? How can they tell you about suffering and inequality in mundane issues whilst ignoring the monumental aspects of fair trade, food security, utility and other fundamental human needs?
Muslims have to careful in the historical accounts of the orreintalist whose main aim is to rewrite the Qur’an and entire Islamic history according to their well-planned objective of distancing the believers from the true message of Islam. You will hardly find one of them ready to debate on faith and believe, all they want is to confuse and thus create doubts in the minds of fringe believers. Islamic ideals are based on the paradigm of the Qur’anic teaching, the prophet tradition, the salaf or rightly guided predecessors and cultural practices that do not go against the message of Islam. Believing in only one God without associating any heads or tails to it.

Orrientalist- western writers on non-western cultures, believes and history.

Friday, 22 May 2009


I am writing a small tribute to a famous commander of Jankey Wally Sanneh, Nfamara Manneh formerly Nguyi Manneh. If anyone have any material or know someone who does and is willing to share please let me know. Nfarama Manneh survived the fall of Kabbu and later became a muslim. His journey from warrior soninke, Maja dolo (maise wine) drinker to the purity of Islam. His legendary role in the battle of Manda and his handing over of his daugther to the Sonko Legend Nghalend Sonko. He was a governor for jankey Wally and a trusted aid.Please share any material you have of him. Eric Ross wrote some musical history the Mandingo history including a bit of Kabuu. There may be a possility to reconstruct the life of Nfamara.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


The criticism of Baba Galleh by a new subscriber at Bantaba ( strangely trigger an opportunist comment by Shako, an old time member of the same forum. Shako a bigoted member of bantaba couldn't even bring himself to write my name correctly, and these are the people claiming to be above pathetic tribalism in the Gambia. No wonder serious people don't listen to them, Wolf in sheep clothing.
Shako’s intention is always to elevate Halifa to the pick of political messiah-ship, thus his claims are that, Halifa is the error-free, always right politician in the Gambia.
He dig up old encounters between the veteran politician and the journalist con author Baba Gallah. The aim of Shako is to put every other person down in the majestic audience of the all-right, all-perfect Halifa whose statements against the AFPRC sort of became a fulfil prophecy.
What Shako and his ilks fail to understand, or are deaf to accept is that, many other non-politicians made similar claims to the eventual acceptance of the JUNTA. I personally know many people who made clear unequivocal statements against the JUNTA, yet all this people were one way or the other NGO workers in the Gambia.
Although they had serious reservations about the coupish, that borders on them fearing for their jobs in the likelihood that, donor partners pull out due to the coup. Interesting that too happen.
Halifa and other politicians were also fearing for the sudden change in the political landscape in the Gambia by unknown quantities in the JUNTA. But in all seriousness, the majority of Gambian like Baba Gallah were please to see the back of the PPP. politicians may hide their true feelings, thus capitalise on the hysteria of the ordinary masses, but they too could be having similar feelings. Who were the biggest critic of the PPP?
Are the PDOIS folks saying that Halfa and co were not happy to see the back of Jawara? only gullible observers will believe that.
People are aware of the clandestine roles some politicians played in stabilising the junta. The same people who publicly condenmed the coup, were in turn providing valuable advice to junta in secret. We know their contacts, the junta members they use to pass their advice to, even the receptionist who sometimes call the attention of the junta is known to people.
So i will in every respect defend Baba Gallah and the countless others who backed the coup early on. It was something new to our country. For God sake we were having one government from the time majority of Gambians we'ren’t born to when many of us attain puberty. From when Halifa was junior school boy to when he assume political activism. yet the removing of such a bitter rival of his was not pleasing to him? Please, let us be Shako.
Baba Galleh wasn't a politician, his comment are more valuable to me than a career politician. He was telling Gambians then his true feelings, his genuine observation, unlike the politicians who were fearing for the change landscape.
Baba Galleh after knowing that the Junta we'ren’t going to deliver on their promises quickly made amends and pick up his pen against them. He has been doing that until today. That is what true men do, accept fault and make amends.
Has Halifa ever made any comments as to him getting some of his judgements wrong on any political issue in the Gambia? I would like Shako to bring that to the public domain as well. Hopefully that may sway some few people to the PDOIS cause.

Now lets come to the subject which is always over played by the PDOIS militants. Which is, the duo of Halifa and Sedia refuse to accept ministerial positions by the junta. How many other Gambians also refuse to accept positions in the Junta government? There are many others, so this isn’t a unique selling point folks. After all, civilian governments in African defer a little to military governments in actual practice. Yes people went to polls to vote in the civilian government whilst the same isn’t true for the military ones. In the Gambia there is no difference between the AFPRC/APRC. In other parts as well, the same is true.
Didn’t Abdoulie Wadda accept a position in Joof's government? How did that affect Wadda’s political career? Working with a military regime is not a crime, in fact, by refusing to work with them might be conceive to be a bigger problem for the entire country. Why? The army are people who lack any know-how in governance. leaving them to rule as they like is tantamount to condoning the destruction of the country. By joining them in principle and advising them on clear direction in matters of governance is a noble thing. The whole country could be safe from collapse. And also, one would know the nature of the junta better. That is enough opportunity of gaining valuable hand's on experience in knowing how to deal with them later run.
PDOIS decline to help the junta, but could that have been a missed opportunity in them having any chance of shaping the Gambia's political direction? Will Yahya have contested elections if the man he admired from military days join him in putting in place some of the changes he envisioned?
The issue that PDOIS refuse to join the junta is not worth being use as a simple political point scoring. And Baba Gallah should not be use to propel Halifa in any way. Gambians are today hoping to know, what strategies if any do the current politicians have up in their sleeves that can change the current status quo in our country. The encounters between error free politicians and fallible journalist which happen over a decade ago is of little relevance today. Shako should avoid over playing historical encounters. Every single human being in his/her life time did something that, on a second chance will do differently including Halifa and others. So Baba Galleh should be proud of himself and continue on his magnificent efforts in the media field.
Baba being humble enough to mention that, Halifa won and he loose is the height intellectual tolerance.Not in a million years would we see such actions from error free, all-perfect politicians.
This is my view, i didn't wish to respond to Shako in a public forum due to the fragile unity efforts on the way, but here i can make a fitting response.
Suntou Bolonba Touray

Monday, 18 May 2009


In Nko doo or mandinka dwellings remember never to:
"If you wish to live peacefully among the mandinkas, leave the new bride of a mandinka man alone." he can kill over it, do all sorts unforgiven things for his bride. nna Manyorin."

when in fula dwelling remember this:
"If you wish to have a long life among fulas, avoid trangressing againt a fula man's young bull." for a fula value his bull so much, he can kori teh you with the twinkle of an eye."

remember when in a sarahukeh town:
"To have peace among the sarahuleh's, then never come close to their wealth. money is like God to them, if you mess with their money, invite death upon your self."

Words of a wise sarahuleh man. I hope some don't take this words out of context. They are funny and may be true years ago. since not all fulas have cattles now, not all mandinkas worry about their new bride and not all sarahulehs are mad for money.


Alhamdulilah Rabil Alamin. I thank and praise Allah the Almighty, the Sustainer and Cherisher. It is his favour upon me which resulted in the completion of a research work i under take.
I could not have completed the MA Degree without the help and assistance and the prayer of my Mother, My Lovely and caring Wife and my three children, who whenever I feel the stress of the program, their smiles and questions took away all the worries.
The encouragements and kind words from friends also contributed to the smooth completion of this work, they are many but the following people stand out: Brother Bakary Colly IDB Jeddah, Sakou Gassama, Sidi keiter u.k, Motar Coventry University, Lamin Darboe, Sarjo Bayang, Ebrima Kamara and many others.
And also the Gambian brothers and sisters who kindly responded to my survey questions. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to conduct any survey analysis. Among this people are: Sister Jabou Joh, Sister Aisha Saidy, Brother Lamin Touray, Ebrima Conteh, Saloum, Mustapha B Touray U.S, Keba lamin U.S, Pasedy Jawara U.K, Bamba Mass U.K, Saul U.S, Yankuba Ceesay, Karamo Khan Seattle, U.S and many others. I thank you all so much. You made me proud to be a Gambian.
The Gambian Banking experts who provided opinion on several issues, yet they wish to remain anonymous, I thank you all. The Gambia Shariah Scholars who provided juristic analysis of my queries, among them Dr Jah. Accept my sincere gratitude.
I have to give a special thanks to Bakary Colly and Shirley Britton. The two of them made me continue with the topic I selected for the dissertation. Shirley went as far as visiting the Gambia Antony General chambers in search annual reports of the case study i conducted. Brother Bakary continually, advice me on ways to acquire more resources and understanding of Islamic finance in the Gambia. May Allah reward you all.
Finally, I thank and ask Allah to reward Dr Seif for his kind advice and tolerance to all my frequent questions and interruptions. The Admin staff at MIHE and Gloucestershire University , Sister Sarvat, Gainer, Desmond and Dr Siddiqui. My appreciation to Islamic relief for the part-scholarship of my program, May Allah reward you all. Amen .
I dedicated the final work to my late father Ebrahim Morikeh Touray. Rest in peace.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Power of Thinking

Magnetic wanderer
Noiseless wanderer
Discretely reaching to absorbed
Freedom assured in the quest to silently fulfil
To taste and visualise
Even that which is out of bound
Experiencing the limitless aptitude
Free from command
Free from instructions
In avenues of spirits
Divinely map out
Wander, the mind wander
Imagine the wishes
The pleasures, unphysical feelings
The vibes, lyrics
The myths-stories
Literatures, science, technology
Attained by the wanderer
Feeding upon freedom to imagine
Tasting even distant passionsIndeed the BOUNDLESS

Mandinka poem

Yinti Yonto kaba
Nbarin musoli, kaba manfeya lon
Musu jama tardeta, kaba labarola
Yinti yonto kaba
Kaba kaa malo le sabu
Kaba kaa Nekuya lee Seeyandi

Famali Nin Bamalu kunbota
Kaba laa Nyagi Bondo
Musuluwo, Alkana kaba Maa, Nin Futuwo Mansite
Nin Yamira, Diya Bekabato
Baatu Foo Fintinwu Fintinwu Yeban
Kaba Kaa Kuneyale

Yinto Yonto Kaba
Kaaba Lamasibo
Din Wulu, Wokola Malo
Kikendole Borita
Kefuntulu Yee Dante
Suwokuta Dibiman Kee
Yinti Yonto Kaba Balamasiboo!

(Poem in Mandinka Language, by Suntou Touray)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Mother's Day. A Hadith or Prophetic Saying.

I do not celebrate specific days for mothers or fathers, i beleive every day should be a respectable and honourable day for our parents. But since some do, i thought it necessary to share a well known hadith on the importance of mothers.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) statements
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: A person came to Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and asked, "Who among people is most deserving of my fine treatment?'' He (PBUH) said, "Your mother". He again asked, ``Who next?'' "Your mother", the Prophet (PBUH) replied again. He asked, "Who next?'' He (the Prophet (PBUH))said again, "Your mother.'' He again asked, "Then who?'' Thereupon he (PBUH) said,'' Then your father.''

PAN-AFRICANIST- Who do they speak for

A response:
He was wrong not to criticise Mugabe. The Pan-Africanist ideology supporters most realise that, any dictatorship or brutality is the same. No matter who commits it.The comdemnation of Mugabe by the west started after he betrays their trust. That is wrong, but does that mean, Mugabe should treat his own people with comtepmt and impunity? No wonder Pan-Africanism is not gaining ground. The idea is a good one, but unless, the promoters realise that, crime is a crime, lack of democracy on the part of our own folks is our responsibility, not the west. The West have united on the premise of human rights, the rule of law and respect for the human being, aka their own kind first. We hate each, we can't stand each, yet we continue to blame the west for all our woes. This is amazing.Another irony is that, some of our own Leading Gambians in the Pan-Africanist struggle ended up living more than half of their lives in the west, what message is that sending?You cannot eat your bread and have it.How often do the regular Pan-Africanist folks living in America, Sweden, U.K, Holland or else were in the west visit the African continent or Gambia for that matter? Most Africans or Black will support the Pan-Africanist idea. But should we be glamourising brother/sisters who has left the Gambia for decades and yet we claim to want know their Pro-Black legacy? What is going on?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Project Completion

I thank God for the strength and health he gave me in making the completion of the project successful. I am doing the fine tuning. I shall comment about all those who one way or other contributed to the success of the enquiry.
May Allah bless all of you in advance. There are also other incidences i was meant to comment on. I didn't wish to distract myself unnecessarily, although the issues were relevant. Sorry for suspense readers. I will not be specific in this matter, the case is too sensitive for that. But as a community leader, we owe our members an explanation as to why we didn't interfere in a certain dispute between two warring Gambian parties. Sometimes, it is important to leave certain matters as private. The privacy and secrets of others is more important than trying to interfere and add fuel to fire.
As i said, i will comment on this subject in few days time God-willing.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Self-Defence Class

Folks, I have stated here a while ago that, the credit crunch is making some people aggressive. This is a fact. In most summers, i cycle rather than drive, unless for lectures and other far away engagements.
I have noticed that, people are getting impatient on many issues. To be affirmative, i have enrolled for a self-defence class. Wrestling and grabbing, with martial arts. It's only on Monday and Wednesday evenings. It will make me prepared for the sudden attacks, not that, i pray for it. But you never know who is fade up with things.
Try it i would say, it also increase your strength and energy levels. You eat better and sleep better. You also relax mentally.