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Promote Unity and Justice in Senegambia- Dr. Bukhari Sillah
Dear editors of Maafanta,It has been six years since I stopped writing or contributing to the Gambia online newspapers. I used to write comments on Gambia-L, and until I stopped in 2004 I discussed and commented only on topical economic issues given my training in economics, and that has become my natural bias, and I love it, because it saves me from discussing persons. But I cannot resist the temptaions of writing comments or making contributions to your online paper whenever I read Maafanta.In particular, I have been moved by recent postings by Suntu Touray on Mandinka and Bamba Mass' piece on Fulani tribe's unifying role and contribution in the spreading of knowledge in the Senegambia region, which was brilliantly commented on by Essa Bokarr Sey.
I appreciate very much these types of comments and contributions. I commend the editors of Maafanta for the good job and salute these three writers for their postings. People should know that Senegambia is very special in the world that it has beautiful tribes that live as one. For example, one is mandinka when one lives in mandinka-kunda, and one is Fulani when one lives in Fula-kunda. I remember, during my childhood days I used to speak only fulani and started my education in Fulani, and Fulanis called me Bokarr, not my Mandinka name, which is Bukari, which also is not my Jahanka name, Bukhari. My guardian was living then in Fula-kunda, and he spoke Fulani even with his family members until we moved to Mandinka-kunda, where we reverted back to speaking Mandinka.
I did not knnow the English name 'tribe', what I knew then was 'Kabilo', which does not mean tribe, because the 'Kabilo' setting can consist of Fulani, Mandinka, Wolof, Jola, etc.I also remember when I visited my aunt in Dippa-Kunda, Serre-kunda ( now it can be called Wolof-Kunda), I greeted them upon arrival in Mandinka, and they replied in Wolof.
I told them I could not speak Wolof, and my aunt got uneasy with my reply and she said: 'my son here is Wolof-kunda, we live with Wolof, it is natural that we speak Wolof, and you will soon become one of us'. The other beauty besides the 'Kabilo' setting is the 'Dang-kouto' or simply 'Dangkuto' (Covenant) that our founding fathers of the people of Senegambia signed and promised to uphold ,no matter what comes, among different kabilos and Kundas for conflict resolutions and peace maintenance.
These Covenants give the people the power to prevail on the two sides of any conflict, tell them the truth and then ask them to abide by the peace covenants, and they will.I believe it is our modern educational training that make us become conscious of tribalism. It has never existed before, if it had existed before we would not have had inter tribal-cross surnames of today. Finally, I once bumped into a Cameroonian professor of history, who was talking vigorously and enthusiastically about the Mali Empire, I said to myself why this professor was so emotional about a tribe to which he did not belong. After his speech, I went to him and asked about his emotion. He said ' do you think Mali Empire is only for the mandinka people? No, it is an African Civilization, it is one people speaking various languages'.And my little research later confirms the professor's assertion.
The Kabilos and Kundas could then be micro structures that were mirroring the macro structures of the Mali Empire.We should be proud of our great founding fathers of the people of Senegambia, we should be their good sons and daughters, who contniue to promote their legacies of covenants, Kundas and Kabilos, not tribe, which is an imported termilogy and idealogy. Again, I thank those who promote unity and justice in the Senegambia.
Dr. Bukhari SillahDepartment of Economics King Saud University, RiyadhSaudi Arabia
I hope many more Gambian academicians can grace the media with valuable comments so that,, we can all learn from each other. No one is an
Island, and knowledge is a sea of water the dept of which is beyond man's comprehension.
Thanks Dr Sillah for the unifying comments