Monday, 30 May 2011

The Fool In the King Lear

“They’ll have me whipped for speaking true, they’ll have me whipped for lying, and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace” (Fool) In Shakespeare play

The Twelve Queens of Niumi

By Suntou Touray (Oral narration by Finna Camara)
Oral historians and bards salute the twelve queens of Niumi from the ancient past. Niumi lies at the coastal point of the present day Gambia. The Sonkos who emigrated from the Kaabu Empire settled largely in Niumi.
The Sonko dynasty at some point had only Queens that succeeded each other, that is until love changes the tradition. The names of the Twelve Queens are not all recounted by the bards’, however, the number is not disputed by many oral commentators.
The names frequently mentioned of the Queens are:
Mama Adama Sonko
Calama Koi Sonko
Nyanpuran Jan Sonko
Sajike Sonko
Sawuya Nding Sonko

The rest of the Queens are relics of history, all efforts will be made to try to find out who they are.
The tradition to make women reign came to an end when the beautiful and most lust after Queen Mama Adama couldn’t find a suitable suitor. She was reigning unmarried for some time. The women league went into full gear in helping the Queen find a match, a Princely male. (An African hunter in the photo)
One day, a hunter who frequents the river by Berending (a settlement) was spotted by local women doing their laundry. One of them immediately suggests that, they should inform the Queen about the man. Hamadadou Seckan is very handsome, tall and strongly built. The adoring women only wished him for the Queen.
On return to the Village, they went straight to the Queen. The characteristics of the Hunter were recounted to the attentive Mama Adama. She without hesitation knew, the women folk at last found her a potential match, a suitable man.
However, Hamadadou Seckan (Mansa Demba Sonko) belongs to the old tradition of hunters’ secrecy and dress code. This is what makes the story so intriguing. Hunters in the past wore strange clothes, woven with horns, talisman, red ink, animal bones, cowry cells etc. In short, they look fearful.
With all the uncanny attire, the towns’ women knew the hunter is a handsome reveals that, women can tell a lot about men than they pretend to admit.
The Queen instructed the women to be on the lookout for the Hunter. “Should he appear, tell him to come and see me”. The women went again to the river for their usual laundry. Again the Hunter arrives at his usual midday time. He usually collects water for his dogs, whilst he quenches his own taste.
The women stood back and call out “Baba Nyima” Handsome man, “our Queen wish to see you”. Hamadodou Seckan (Mansa Demba) told them, “but you know that, the way I am dress, I cannot go into town this way”. Hunters enter their houses through the back door.
The women again informed the Queen that, the hunter came but decline to visit because he was in traditional attire, he cannot violate that routine and enter the village the way he is dress. The Queen thinking on her feet rose up. She thundered that, “tell the hunter to wear whatever clothes you have that is not yet wet, and come to see me, it is a command”.
The third time, the ladies were desperately waiting for the hunter. As soon as he surfaced, he was confronted with spear clothes to wear. As soon they told him you must see the Queen today, he gave them the usual excuses. They informed him that, he put on the unwashed clothes to see the Queen. To this suggestion, Hamadadou obliged.
Love Conquers
The fully dressed Hamadadou approached the village of Berending with the women. As soon as they arrived at the throne of Mama Adama Sonko, she stood up. She was mesmerised by the beauty of Hamadadou. She instructed him to seat on her throne. He declined. However, Mama Adama demonstrated her love by instructing, her largess to beat the Tabalalo (special Drum, an announcer).
The Drum is only sounded on special occasions or in emergency situations. When the villagers heard the drum, they went straight to the Queen. There she was, beautiful, elegant and majestic with a broad smile. The elders enquire what the matter is. Mama Adama with a broad smile says “I have given myself and throne to this man; this is the man I love and wish to spend the rest of life with”.
Hamadadou Seckan was Coroneted, Mansa Demba Sonko. His last name was replaced to that of the Queen and he became the King of Niumi who contracted the Kaabu warrior, the wandering Kelefa Sanneh to bring under the rule of Niumi the settlement of Barriar. Kelefa Sanneh was eventually betrayed by Mansa Demba himself after the fall of Barriar. Mansa Demba feared that, Barrair has been a strong antagonist of Niumi Berending. He couldn’t conquer the town.
His fears were that, in the retelling of the battle of Barrair, the Sonkos of Niumi will not be narrated, because they relied on the bravery of a wandering Jawaro (warlord). Kelefa was ambushed by his own host unexpectedly and killed. Some historians believe that, all this event took place around the 1820s to 1840s.
‘Bimuso, muso kajelefe ila korokan, yeba nghee suutele,yaba batonkolon’
Fena Camara is a bard from Sinbanding in Cassamance, his younger brother is the eloquent poet/historian Yahya Camara base in Dakar.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Assumptions about me

It has been assume that, I studied Arabic and later learn English. In fact such is not the case. I learn Arabic like many young Muslims to be able to recite the Holy Book and understand the Muslim faith. I did my study from Primary to Junior Secondary In English. I was at St' Geargoes Junior Secondary In Basse, later to High School in Serrekunda, the MDI for two years and then England for my Accountant and then to University and Markfield for Banking training. I am a modern democrat who take part in social action in a peaceful way. As the Coordinator of UDP U.K, I interact with diverse section of society including Gambians...I detest injustice in all forms and manners, however, I believe that, only through peaceful means and dialogue can we solve our local and global problems. I admire the Western system for its perfect order and motionless high tech operations. Africans must work for respectability by first respecting themselves and directing their anergies towards improving their lot.

Mask Of Anarchy

Percy Shelley's
"Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you:
Ye are many - they are few."

Coalition For Change: Contradictory or Complimentary

Our guys in the press are pushing on to direct participation in politics. The new outfit grouping, spearheaded by Ndey Tapha is a bit baffling. If Ndey Tapha is still the exile head of GPU Gambia, isn't it a contradiction, she is also the head of the Coalition For Change?
I am only wondering. It is not wrong for journalist to dabble in politics, can they practice their trade independently and fairly whilst involve in affirmative action?
Or is it my misunderstanding of the purpose of the group? Could it be that, a practising journalist can also be a politician (like Foroyaa staffers, i mean the senior editors)?
This issue require thorough analysis..
Can Ndey Tapha head two different organisations and not be bias towards one? GPU respective bodies are doing a good job. However, our difficult struggle is opening many windows...
My thoughts

Omar Joof’s response:
You have made some very pertinent observations, which have bearings on some of the old fashioned contradictions in formal strictures that have restricted public participation in Gambian politics. Though I cannot even pretend to speak on behalf of The Coalition for Change, I am motivated by the pertinence of some of your observations to respond.
During the colonial era civil servants were prevented from participating in politics because national politics was in contravention of their employer's ( colonial government's) agenda. The only option available to them if they wanted to participate in national politics was to resign from their positions in the civil service. At independence this practice was carried on without some radical review. Somehow it barred some of our best brains from directly participating in national politics leading to the anecdotal that " those with "E" grades in class", take part in national politics. This to a considerable extend was responsible for some of the below standard performances we recorded in our national development endeavours.
The policy should have been eradicated on Independence Day way back in 1965, but it still obtains in The Gambia. Its eradication would allow more high calibre individuals to at least periodically join the political fray, and later perhaps go back to their professional activities. Their individual professional expertise can only improve the quality of the national debate and make more professional skills directly available in solving political issues. The sum total would have been an absolute enhancement of representative government and good governance.
In The 1970s, Authorities in The Gambia started to make debilitating attacks on organized labour with intent to undermine its bargaining power, in line with the wishes of the capitalist estate. This prepared the grounds for mass workers retrenchment exercises in the 1980s, thanks to the horrors of the so called Economic Recovery Programme.
In modern times however, civil society organizations in the right environments have become the harbingers of relatively more democratic regimes. In the case of The Gambia, and in terms of our present needs, we have an almost empty space to fill. We need more civil society organizations like The Coalition for Change, which will radically pursue the interests of their respective memberships, as part of our overall struggle for national emancipation and development. Their roles shall become even more crucial in A New Gambia, where there are term limits for key political offices.
Thus depending on how The Coalition for Change defines itself and acts in pursuance of its agenda, there should be no contradictions or conflicts of interests. We need more such civil society organizations.
Best of regards,
Omar Joof.

My Response to Omar Joof Canada
You have widened the scope I intended to convey in the initial analysis. You are right, Still now, if one wish to contest for a member of Parliament, he/she must take an unpaid leave, in many cases, if you intend to contest for an opposition, the leave will not be approve, therefore, the best option is to resign. This unjust and unfair system is what made the Likes of Lamin R Darboe, a qualified teacher to resign and contest for the Kombo East seat. In failing to secure the seat, one has to look for alternative source of employment or travel abroad.

The main gist of bringing up the subject is to alert the media practitioners that, the expression of dissatisfaction against the crops of politicians we have, should Jammeh continue to hijack the system and remain in power, will bite them as well in the future.
I have the feeling that, the many commentators who are regularly analytical of our politics, be they journalist or critics of Jammeh or the opposition in the Diaspora will be direct competitors for power in days to come. Therefore, is the 'Coalition for Change', a preparatory network for such eventuality?
If so, then keen readers and stakeholders in Gambian public live issues should take note. We have seen journalist like MK Jallow called for a day of Rage, is such call sanctioned by Journalistic ethics?
Say for instance, the constitution eventually is amended to allow for Diaspora Gambians to contest for Presidency tomorrow, many working towards Uniting the opposition may eventually become leadership contenders themselves..
And also, within the media fraternity, there will be no doubt a face off for leadership, in short a power struggle between the notable ladies and men...Your call for a more civil society involvement in politics is dynamic and I too encourage it. However, we all realise that, each of our political opposition leaders want to eventually become the President of the Gambian Republic. There is no ifs and buts about that. Therefore, I was looking at the men and women of the Press as the only avenue where independent analysis of issues affecting Gambians will be appreciated and achieve without fearing their neutrality.
Me and other partisans have no problem recognising where each commentator of Gambian opposition politics stand. Ndey Tapha leading the GPU Gambia, and the Coalition For Change to me raises serious complex issues. I am not saying she cannot become a politician or actually take part in politics, since we are all politicians in many ways than we would accept. Journalist groups in the GPUs, and other offshoot organisation are raising the stake higher.
At the end of the day, it will become who is more well known, who is more experience, who has sacrificed more, who commands more respect than the rest of the Journalist community etc etc.
Where will all that leave the Gambia Press Independence in reporting on our public matters?
Thanks Joof for your intelligent response.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

UDP Femi Peters In U.K For An Official Engagement

Members of UDP U.K are happy to announce that, the UDP Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affair is in the U.K for an Official engagement.
Mr Peters is a founding member of the UDP and a man of strong personality. The Gambian community in England are happy that Femi is now a free man after spending close to one year in jail for no credible reason whatsoever.
He is in good spirit and full of hope for the future of the Gambia. Mr Peters is continuously dedicated to the struggle to free the Gambia of suppressive rule.
The struggle continuous and Mr Peters will never desert the suffering Gambian populace.

The feud Between me and Editor Pa Nderry is over

Few days ago, Myself, Bamba Mass, Seedy Ceesay and Pa Nderry had a very constructive radio program were the difference of opinion between us was resolve. Editor Pa was very reasonable and open minded. Seedy Ceesay and Bamba Mass played a pivotal role in bring us together.
As I opined, there is no personal problem between us. It was a matter of difference of opinion and less important issues overriding the bigger focus.
I am a law abiding resident of the United Kingdom and a keen observer of international politics and global events. Where and when necessary, I make blogpost on some of those issues.
I am also an ordinary member of the United Democratic Party. However, I also have to recognise that, people may find me a focus of attention because of my open support and advocacy for the party.
I commend editor Nderry for his maturity in expressing the readiness for his radio to engage all section of the Gambian community. We at the UDP with the party leader Alh. Ousainou Darboe welcomes constructive criticism. The parry stands for pluralism and divergent views. However, we also encourage the fact that, our views should also be given an opportunity of response.
The Freedom radio is also not beyond criticism neither the Panelist and participants. We are all Gambians who see things differently. We encourage that, the personal affairs of people be left out of our discussions. Public live issues be our central focus of attention.
Finally, thanks to Pa Nderry Mbye, Seedy Ceesay and Bamba Mass. Let us now move on.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Pa Nderry Need to Learn Radio Manners

Hi Pa, it seems that, your understanding of democratic dispensation and free exchange of views is bias when it comes to UDP supporters. I hear you mention my name and claimed that, we don't want anyone to attack Ousainou Darboe. Attacking UDP Mandingo members is counterproductive.

You are wrong and the assertion are unfounded. You have lived in America for 8 years and in that duration, you would have seen Senators, Congressmen and women, The President responding to claims against their personality. And by extension, his press secretary, key loyal supporters and pundits defending them as well questioning them slogging it out.
That is the live blood of free exchange of views. If a man speaks against another, why should he fear a response?

Mr Ousainou is a politician as well as Barrister. He cannot accommodate all the invitations of private Gambians. It is only for that spirit that, some us as UDP members respond to claims and allegations.
The allegation of your Guest, Alhagie Faye was made in a public forum, a Radio broadcast. Similar sentiment was uttered against OJ, he is is U.K and was contacted instantly by Seedy Ceesay to rebuff the lies. Why didn't you do the same when Mr Faye made the insinuations?
A serious broadcaster never take lightly statements of his guest, from all main stream American talk show host to the ones in Europe. If you want to emulate such personalities, then try to be balance and cordial with your views and guest.
I have no problem even if you mention my name and make claims against me. I can defend myself instantly. I know you will not give me the air mile to correct the claims, however, I can use other means and avenue to remedy the situations.

On the basis of Tribalism on our part, Pa are you serious at all about the crimes in the Gambia? If you feel that tribalism is when UDP supporters question claims on the media, then you need a serious reflection on the subject.
Tribalist never want to be confronted. Your behaviour smells of such. Why can't you have ALhagie Mustapha and any UDP supporters debate at the same time. This is what Seedy Ceesay did. And your guest Mr Faye, refute his earlier statements himself.
He said, he never said Darboe is a Tribalist and on the issue of Jammeh's bribes, he said that was all speculations. Yet when we came to talk as Gambians, you start screaming and making fuss over that. Who is the Tribalist now Pa Nderry?
Your personal attack on Ousainou is fine, however, remember, we have the rights just like you to say you are using a bigoted mirror to analyse Ousainou.
Why must Ousainou step aside to proof to you that, He is not a Tribalist or power hungry? Why should he hand over to Hamat Bah or some Wollof to proof to Pa Nderry that, he is not tribalist or the UDP is not Tribalist?
DO you regularly listen to yourself?
You should use sober responsible journalism to carry your message. Making false accusations against me or UDP supporters will not take you anywhere. Your free speech is recognised by us, however, do you recognise our free speech?
I challenge you to have all sides of the Radio debates on together if you are seriously interested in Uniting Gambians. How can you be attacking Mandinka UDP members and claim that you are not a Tribalist? All we want is neutrality from all those claiming to be journalist. Be fair, invite Alhagie Mustapha day, night and evening, however, to be fair to the other sides, invite members from the sides he will talk about the opportunity to respond. That is what constructive free speech is all about.
You cannot have people who will cowardly make statements, and pretend that, responding to them infringe on their rights. Why do you think it is you a Wollof demanding that, Ousainou a Mandinka give his place up for people all non-Mandinkas signify Pa Nderry? It expose the underlying bitterness you manifest against Ousainou. You did your best to make Alhagie Mustapha join in your unnecessary lunacy, however, he was restraint and careful, that was why, you went out of your way attacking Ousainou's legal profession. I wonder if you are standing up for your family member in the trade? All sincere and mature Gambians, no matter how much they dislike Ousainou will agree to his legal standing.

Western democracy is what it is today because they give pundits the opportunity to speak, however, members of opposing sides have instant rights of response. These can be seen in BBC radios, CNN, ALjazeera, etc. We don't fear your criticism, however, give us the opportunity to correct them, if you can't then ceased claiming to be a fair and neutral radio host. By the way, I enjoy your laughter's..Keep it up.