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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Momodou Posted - 02 Mar 2023 : 20:43:59
March 2, 2023
By Tabora Bojang

The Minister of Tourism, Hamat Bah has warned that the prevalence of tribal associations using their languages to promote tribal identities on media platforms poses a danger to national unity.

He also warned that government will not hesitate to apply the law on any group of people who behave in a manner that threatens national unity.

Minister Bah was speaking at a day-long workshop on the development of a national language for the Gambia within the context of the Language Plan of Action for Africa organised by the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) which supports AU member states to develop and ensure African languages assume their rightful role in the development programs of member states.

Bah noted that while he agrees that African languages need to be cherished and promoted to ensure diversity and unity, he has recently made observations of a disturbing trend in The Gambia with some tribes forming themselves into groups using radio platforms to fan tribal differences.

“Coming up with an association to promote a particular language and to keep it together is no harm; but using a language to generate tribal sentiments is unacceptable and will not be accepted. Get me right on this and I am not mincing my words. You can promote your associations, promote your languages, develop them, celebrate them, have festivals, but do not bring tribalism by using your language to disunite the country,” Mr Bah said.

He said it is very disturbing for tribes to form themselves into groups, called Fulani this, Mandinka this, Serahule that, etc etc . The minister went on: “I happen to listen to one phone-in programme on Star FM radio in Fula and I was very disturbed. The way I heard them promote this ideology is discriminatory, threatening national security and national unity and government will not sit idly by and watch any group of people speak and behave in a manner that threatens our national unity. As long as I am the minister responsible, it will never happen in this country. The law is very clear and we will invoke the law against any group seen to be promoting tribalism at the detriment of national unity”.

Minister Bah said he followed this programme on Star FM radio and could not sleep. “They were calling over a particular meeting that was held in Niamina and I was extremely disturbed because I don’t think that is what we want to promote,” Hamat stated.

The formation of associations in tribes, he added, should be used to ensure “our national languages are promoted, maintained and embraced but not to incite divisions.”

“We owe it to the people and it is our responsibility to make sure that we preserve national unity at every level. Yes, form your association to promote your language, form your association to make sure that your language is spoken and written but avoid using tribal sentiment that divides our country. I am going to make a pronouncement on it when these practices does not cease and I will use the provisions of the law to maintain sanity about this. And I can assure you that no group of people will be spared no matter how powerful they think they are. The law is here for everybody,” he stated.

The minister also cautioned radio presenters to ensure they vet callers to avoid them inciting discord.

“All the crises in Africa were caused through the radio and TV and I think you owe it to our people to maintain peace. You just cannot use the microphone and the pen just to be abusing people. You cannot allow people to just pick up a phone and call the radio say whatever they want to say to people. It does not happen anywhere,” the minister said.

The Standard called up a human rights activist who said Minister Bah made a very frank statement and government should deregister all associations with tribal names. “Can you imagine there is even a football tournament named after a tribe in which only members of that tribe play. Others called themselves warriors. It must be said also that it is politicians who exploit this division for their self-interest. But one must commend Hamat Bah for doing the right thing. He has done a very good job to condemn this trend,” the activist said.
2   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Momodou Posted - 03 Mar 2023 : 20:14:35
By Ndey Jobarteh

“Coming up with an association to promote a particular language and to keep it together is no harm; but using a language to generate tribal sentiments is unacceptable and will not be accepted. Get me right on this and I am not mincing my words. You can promote your associations, promote your languages, develop them, celebrate them, have festivals, but do not bring tribalism by using your language to disunite the country,” Hon. Hamat Bah, Minister for Tourism.
Source: Standard Newspaper The Gambia

Is Hon Hamat Bah, the Minister for Tourism serious about these statements? He should start from himself and his Government who have Institutionalized Tribalism and also used State Resources and Platforms to incite tribal divide which Hon Bah never condemned. What is their plan? Elections are coming and we have seen this before where Tribalism and divisive tendencies were employed to gain votes, create fear.

Tribalism was used to divide us by . Never has Gambia been so divided on tribal lines like this Government of President Barrow has managed to do. I will advise Hon Bah that we are not sleeping and we know exactly the game plan. He should start from himself, the President and his Government because they Institutionalised Tribalism, they turned our Statehouse to a Tribal Meeting Arena. Stay there Hon Bah!! Clean your Government of Institutionalised Tribalism, Clean your Campaign Platforms of Tribal Rhetoric. Clean the State House of State Tribalism and then you have the temerity to utter such statements.

Gambians should be warned that these are only retherotics for election campaigns and winning elections. Nothing honest or genuine about it. I continue to urge Gambians to reframe from the NPP/APRC government taking that Gambianess from us, The Gambian who always welcomed other nationals and made them feel at home. Make them create homes in our small country. Make them build families and successful businesses in our small country and Co exist peacefully .
Don't allow Hon Bah’s statement to fool you, it is another election and campaign rhetoric. They are the ones who created the most dangerous elements of tribalism that is State and Institutionalized Tribalism. These People are not genuine. If he was he should have started the reconciliation along time ago.
Mr Bah , this is what you all created . Look around you. Clean up your mess. You people have ruined our beautiful and peace loving country. Clean it up !
It’s not only an issue when you want votes . Won’t be sorted by plain words that disappear in thin air after elections. You have seen the fruits of your labour . Now get to work and clean it up .

Momodou Posted - 02 Mar 2023 : 20:50:00
We say no to tribalism
By Sidi Sanneh

We welcome Hamat Bah, Gambia’s Tourism Minister’s statement, however belatedly uttered, warning about the creeping tribalism that poses a threat to continental Africa’s smallest country.

Despite its size, it provided what was in short supply during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s - ie peace and tranquility and a degree of relative prosperity in a continent ravaged by civil wars, corruption and dictatorships. Despite the challenges posed by opening her doors to those seeking refuge, The Gambia opened her doors to host many a political and economic refugees from Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, and South Africa.

Today, some of these refugees have returned home but many decided to stay, marry and settle in the country as citizens. It did not diminish us. Instead, it made us a better and stronger country. Sir Dawda’s government made it possible with open arms by being accommodating to our African brothers and sisters fleeing tribal conflicts, brutal dictatorships- military and civilian - and economic hardship.

Some of us are old enough to remember when The Gambia was labeled the supermarket of the West Africa when the country per capita GDP ranked third amongst the then 16-member ECOWAS. Today, we are ranked at the very bottom. Even Guinea-Bissau has a higher per capita GDP.

Given our current economic and political predicament, we can least afford to cultivate tribal resentments. We can practice the art of politics without injecting tribal sentiments into the mix. The situation of the country is volatile enough without adding to its woes. Thank you.

Sidi Sanneh

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