Monday, 29 July 2013

In Defense of Armitage High School

By Demba Baldeh (Suntou), great write up but clearly a miss opportunity to do a broader research on Armitage and its culture. It appears that you spoke to some ex students and picked a negative narration of the institution and make it look like "a breeding ground for Alcoholism and prostitution" aka girls dressing badly.

There are certainly thousands of Ex Armitage students on this forum who will vehemently disagree with your assertions. I am not interested in defending Armitage as my Alma-mata, but simply setting the records straight or broadening the discussion. First, the section of students you referenced who frequents or make the "Mansuwan Kunda" a habitual place represent a very small section of the student population. In fact if your sources were open to you, they would have told you that these are mostly students who struggle in their academics and many of them end up failing and repeating their classes, some expelled, some transfer to freer schools. This is the same group that runs away from regular five day prayers, night studies and against rules of staying on campus. This group does not reflect the larger student body who are overwhelmingly pious and hardworking...

Second, if you research Armitage and the institutional set up, you would have realized that there were strict rules separating boys quarters with girls' dormitories. In fact some spent five years in Armitage without ever visiting the girls quarters which was locked 24/7... So were the girls restricted in visiting boys quarters. Of course as a co-eduational institution students were allowed to have musical nights were girls and boys mixed. But to characterize girls in Armitage as flouting or dressing sexual is to not know about Armitage and probably never visited the school...

Clearly, you missed a great opportunity to touch on the strict religious schedules and teachings at Armitage where students are woken up at 5am to pray dawn every single day 7 days a week. The five daily prayers were stricter than that of Mecca if you ask me. This includes both boys and girls. Girls are locked during prayers... (almost like Sariah law).. This is something that even parents cannot maintain for their kids. By the way students who were Christians were also forced to go to Church on Sundays... You should have seen Friday prayer time when the whole school will assemble and march to the Juma prayers without deviation. 

Finally, the discipline the Armitage institution teaches its students is a classic example that our regular transitional families teaches their children at home. Almost 95% of Armitage students greatly benefits from this routines and are greatly appreciative of being part of a culture that treats every student equally. At Armitage during my days of course, it doesn't matter what your family background was. We all ate the same food, wear the same clothes and of course bitten by the same mosquitoes..

In short, I think in terms of religious training, academic rigor, social norm of respect for seniors and the elderly, restriction on gender commingling, and routine schedules, Armitage is a classic example. In fact students who spent five years at Armitage will forever appreciate being part of an institution that never discriminates and teaches basic fundamentals of social upbringing...

I hope you will have another chance to do more research on Armitage and the idea of these institutions being breeding grounds for secularism. 

Keep up the good work..

Gambia Social Issues

by Joe Sambou reaction: Suntou, thanks for your take on the issue. However, don't you think you are according more blame on the two insitutions and sparing the rest of Gambian high schools, secondary schools, and the University as well? Julbrew/Banjul Breweries has been known to run out of stock in a country that is 85% to 90% Muslim. Who is drinking all that alcohol? Certainly not the 10% with almost 100% not knowing where Armitage is located. The output of Julbrew far out number the combined Daakaa output in the country. So, who has contributed more to the consumption of alcohol in the country? Also, have you not seen the students of SAHS, GHS, Muslim High, Nusrat, etc. at the clubs and beaches tilting the bottle and smoking weed among other things? How about the rate of teenage pregnancies in the urban areas? I would venture that what happened/is happening in the urban areas far outweigh what went/or is going on at say, Amitage. SAHS used to go to Armitage every year and at the time the place was quite restrictive for some of us. When we have a dance, it ended up being attended by the outsiders for the most part and we played cat and mouse with the Principals trying to play around the curfew, with the local student heads to report local students that ventured out pass the deadline or tried to join the party.

Let us also not forget that the Gambian state is a secular state and the constitution is the people. I do not think secularity is the issue. Are you trying to push for a Theocracy? Because due to our multi religion, tribe, and other persuasions I think a secular state is best for us and each to be free to practice their religion without hindrance. You live in the UK, do you know how many Gambians who are Muslims drink alcohol for instance and they did not pick up the habit in the Gambia or an Armitage? And so, like many of our affairs, we are masters at looking the other way.

I will extend the conversation to venture into prostitution in the Gambia. Our target of choice for blame is "The Foreigners" (Sierra Leoneans, Senegalese, Nigerians, Bissau Guineans, etc.). We all know that a great deal of prostitutes in the Gambia are our fellow Gambians (you and my neighbor, relative, etc.). There are various kinds of prostitutes, female, male, open, covert, etc. and Gambians have the lion share.

I will also add the case of homosexuality. Is there any place in our globe that humans habitat and you do not have homosexuals? There isn't. So, why do Africans pretend that we never had homosexuals in Africa, and specifically, Gambia. How many of us can honestly say we do not know of a homosexual, growing up in Gambia? And so, who are we fooling? Yes, the culture was/is hostile to homosexuals, driving them underground. However, we have some that came out even back in the 70s and 80s with their drumming sessions and entertainment of their counterparts in say Senegal and to this day they are homosexuals where ever they are in the world. Homosexuality is not a European creation but part of humanity. There was time that white and black marriages were prohibited/frowned upon in the UK, US, Rhodesia, SA, and countless other places around the world and many black folks were murdered for it. Today interracial marriage is a fact of life, and so will we come to a stage that accepting our brothers and sisters for who they are will be a fact of life. A question for you, if you have a son/daughter that told you they feel different from their apparent gender, what will you say or do to them? Yes, you can wish it away, pray on it all you want, but you had easier raise a person from the dead than make them feel otherwise. I have heard Gambians that swore by the heavens that they will use their bare hands and kill that child of they reveal their humanity as such. So, Yaya is not the only one out there. However, I will put it to those Gambians that, that is just talk. It is very hard to look your child in the face and kill them just because of their sexual orientation. Those that will follow through can go ahead as long as they know they will rot in jail for the rest of their life and as faith would have it, if a man, may be forcefully made another man's wife. That is also a fact of life in jail too. Daaw Be Mbokou! 


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Bastion of Secular Gambia:Dry Dance and Gambia College/Armitage

Suntou Bolonba Touray
The birth of secular Gambia took different twist and turns...many individuals and institutions played significant roles in shaping our mindsets...Armitage High school and Gambia College are said to contribute immensely in promoting and solidifying the secular Gambia.
The regimental rules in the Gambia's only boarding school, is seen by outsiders as filtering grounds for  Gambians who will become career public servants, and innately secular in outlook, although the institution also encourages obedience to hierarchy, master-servant following, headman-ship and free spiritedness.
Head strong young Gambian men tasted the jewel of secular anointment 'alcohol'. The road to decommissioning one's inner spirit is through the consumption of liquor. Armirtage became a breeding ground for taking young impressionable minds down the road of becoming hardcore secular elite institutionalist. The Mansuwan Kunda wine brewing den played key role fermenting this culture.

The freedom young women gain in Armirtage also means, the body covenant was discarded through subtle mechanism-the carefree dressing and lax attitude towards the male sex. Once the head is de-spiritualised, the candle of liberal secularism became glowingly lit. A point of no turning back, similar to the liberal literature supplied to the women's bureau and elite women within the civil service.

The emphasis in hierarchy found in Armitage  also means, draconian seniors put new comers through paces which acts to formulate deconstructing the in-build discipline a young 'green leave' may have been brought up with.
Sons and daughters of Imams became so distance from the route of the parents, many live double lives. When in home environment, they are what their parents expect of them, but when they are in their convenient circles, they over indulge beyond recognition.

The Gambia college's training programs also accord it's pupil the  facility and privilege to be free, to be inquisitive. The regular entertainment program which acts to foster secular dance spirit was none other than 'dry dance'.
If you were not a student at the Gambia college, you will never have heard of dry dance. I will actually hope that, former students can indulge us into what dry dance was. From the information gathered, dry dance was a weekly dance program, where young men will gather and sit and watch female student compete in provocative dance...Some notable academics today, where said to be instrumental in making sure the dance takes place. A further detailed analysis of Armitage and Gambia College is in the offing.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The brave Gambian journalist: Musa Saidykhan and Others

I am proud to be associated with Gambian journalist, although I don't count myself as one. I am certainly even more proud to count Musa Saidykhan, a friend/colleague at kibaaro, a survivor of unimaginable brutality by the coward, sadistic killer President Jammeh. 
Musa Saidykhan was electrocuted countless times, his back was sliced, his wrist was broken like a log of wood, his body was so badly tortured, only God knows how he survive. So if you still think a President who stoop so low as to inflict brutality on fellow Gambians is a good President, then you need more repentance than the Satan himself. God forbid oppression on himself, why do we condone a President ordering his men to butcher fellow country men?
 If you say you fast for the sake of God, then search deep in your heart, why we look the other way in the midst of serious crimes against innocent people. July 22 brought with it some glimmer of hope, however, the dept of blood stench, is so sobering, sometimes you try to cry, but no tears come. 

May Allah calm the hearts of all those Gambians whose love ones have been brutalized and maltreated, some killed by our Commander In-chief, Our own national President..On his Orders. The evil men taste the pains of there crimes, is a sweet day for lovers of Justice. Can Deyda Hydara be brought again, can the lsot years of Ebrima Manneh be repaid, where is he? Watch the video and see

Hands off First Lady Zenab Zuma Jammeh

Leave her spend to our money!!
By Suntou Touray
Gambians are misplacing their priorities these days. Zenab Zuma Jammeh is the wife of the enduring, long serving President of a tiny West African Republic (The Gambia). Her husband is among the ugliest African heads of states, past and present. In fact, he leads the way on ugliness bar, the likes of Idi Amin, Yazimbe Yadema of Togo, and few others. President Jammeh picked Zenab Zuma Jammeh in a Morocco hotel according to some sources. She did not travel to live in the Gambia, because she love and like the country. She is in the Gambia because she is married to the richest man in the whole of the country.

Zeinab Zuma went to the Gambia in search of a brilliant life. She didn’t go to our country to settle for our small super markets and riff raff clothing shops. Oh NO, she is a high class social girl. President Jammeh married her, knowing she is a man eater, and an expensive one at that.
She is a hustler who will gather wealth and then head to a place dear to her to spend. Aren’t we all hustlers? If we gather some money, where do we head to?
An overwhelming amount of Gambians will travel to Banjul to enjoy their hard earn money. Some will frequent hot spots by the beach sides, night clubs etc, whilst the more sober ones will undertake investment in property and the like.
Zenab Zuma sees herself as a hustler in an unfriendly environment. The Gambia is too low key for her. She is not from the country and evidently, does not like the country and her people.

Her husband, our mandated head of state, the man our people voted for in the highest political office is our business. Zenab Zuma has every right to spend her gains, in whichever way she deems fit.

And by the way, she shouldn’t be judged on her lack of fasting. How many Semesters to the Gambia fast? She is enjoying herself. Our focus, target, camera lenses, secret photographs should all be aimed at President Yahya Jammeh, not poor old Zenab.
Zenab lives in an expensive apartment; she drives expensive cars, and eats expensive foods. That is what she works hard to attain in life. You might disagree with her, like I do, but then, that is what she chose to attain success by.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Face Book Over-exposure of the Body

Facebook is good, but some make it bad. Share your face, dress. your nice moments with your friends...But I think certain Gambian sisters are taking this too far. Please sisters, your breast, your belly/tummy are private parts that shouldn't be shared to hundreds of people. Not all of us want to sin seeing your breast and naked belly...Showing your private parts of your body doesn't add any value to you as a person. Sadly, vanity loving brothers and some sisters will continue liking things just for the heck of it. Keep private parts privates..God Guide us.

Lessons in Fasting Ramadan

By Suntou Touray
A Muslim man/woman who fast for 30 days, has learn a thing or two about self-control. He/she should be incapable of committing sex crimes. A key goal of fasting is mastering one's desire...We fast because we are commanded to do so, but it also teaches us determination and humility. May Allah make us humble and make it easy for us to do good for him and mankind. Ameen

The Broken Pen Of the Gambia

At the top of the hill
Sat an old, dejected Gambian scholar
Who use to scribble fantastic essays and books
There he sat, along with very few who takes
The pains and solitude to think

They think loud to us in the pages
and cover of magazines and books
We adulate their grand minds
and hope that, many will emulate
the audacity and sacrifice

The pen then was in good hands and great thinking minds
Minds that encourage protest writing and thinking
Sitting elegantly and heads held high
Under our soft Sun, the Buhabas (Scholars)
Exhibited the talent to communicate

We took their words and believed that,
They are genuine
That was before the test to their character
and personal interest hits home

The Pen is broken, the Gambia’s pen is dented
broken by the celebrated writer and author
Alas, it downed on Gambia that, not all that glitter is gold

(Nana Grey-John, a key player in Gambia writers community
Is found wanting when he is needed most)
Hypocrites at best
Gambia Writers forum should distance itself from him)
WAG needs to rethink and be bold

Pregnant/Breast feeding Woman should not Fast

If God makes something easy, why complicate it for yourself? Ramadan fasting month create a buzz in people, both men and women. Some sisters even start covering their heads, some find the quickest available guys to get hitch. All of that is self-delusional. What is important is, whether you are married or single, stay sin free..Marriage is not a requirement for doing good or bad. Yes, the institution of marriage is blessed and all eligible bachelors should be encourage to marry, but please don't do it for Ramadan. Another subject is, very clear sound hadith of the Prophet Muhammad explain that, "women who are breast feeding, pregnant, very old people who cannot fast..." feed a poor person a day. That will replace the obligation of fasting for them. 

But certain Gambian sisters are refusing to obey that Prophetic providence. They are saying, they will repay all the month of Ramadan when they are strong enough after pregnancy, breast feeding. Come on sisters, how many voluntary acts of worship can you do, that you don't, why make Islam difficult for yourself in just fasting? If you are breast feeding a baby or you are pregnant, eat and drink, and provide Fidya (food) to a needy person for each day. If because you have money to give and you felt, that option is easy..Please remember, there are countless others who cannot fast due the above conditions, but at the same time, will find it hard to feed a poor person...Our religion is easy, learn the basics and read it. 
No one will confuse you. May Allah forgive our mistakes/sins and make us better human beings. Let our educated sisters please say something. We are having some sisters insisting fasting after breast feeding and pregnancy..Imagine we guys have such allowance...Nothing is more nobler than motherhood, don't underrate it...Jazakalah