The Gambia is a beautiful country. Let us keep faith in our shared aspiration for greatness, inclusiveness, and prosperity. Let us fight for each other, not with each other. Let us show the world that we have the capacity for resilience, and we do not need external assistance to solve home issues. 

Racism and tribalism are still rife, and we need a revolutionary in the mold of Martin Luther King Jnr to purge society of the last dregs of racism. We are battling tribalism here. 

The most significant impediment in this fight is the blurring of the distinction between tribalism and negative ethnicity. Tribalism is another form of nationalism. In and of itself, it is insidious and pernicious. 

The problem is that we use it interchangeably with negative ethnicity. If we could discuss this obnoxious phenomenon exclusively, we might soon prevail in the success of nations’ civilizing’ project.’

Since time immemorial, apart from our tribal joking relationships, which is well cherished and acceptable, the “Kal” or the “Sanawoyaa” signifies our coexistence and rational persuasion, and the foundation of peaceful coexistence in our communities. 

Ethno-tribal chauvinism is taught at dinner tables to brain hate and stereotyping to hating other tribal groupings. At home the politics of fear and how to manipulate into tribalism to intimidate the subordinates or enemies shepherding the tribe by the leaders. There is a longstanding history of employing the others’ fear, turning other tribes into illogical ruthless weapons, in the service to an ideology. 

Fear is a powerful tool that can blur human logic and change their behaviour. Fear is arguably as old as life. It is deeply ingrained in the living organism that has survived extinction through many years of evolution. Its roots are deep in our core, psychological and biological being, and it is one of our most intimate feelings.

Tribalism is as old as human history, and so are politics and religion. Negative ethnicity and stereotyping is a critical talking point in our Gambian homes. It is part of a regular daily stereotype at the kitchen dining table. 

Tribalism is taught in many of our Gambian homes using implicit stereotypes and implicit prejudices in systemic ways in real satirical predictive cognition and culture biased. For example in Wolof homes, children are taught a preconception prejudice “Sosseh du Sossal Ken” and in Mandingo homes “Mandinka baa, all tribes are ‘small’ “ding” like “Jolading,Fulading,Sarahule-ding ,Suruwa Jamba katang”. 

And in other homes” the Wolof say  Peul Jamfa rekk” and the Fulani calling Mandingos “Cheedo and Machuudo” in sarcasm. 

In homes satire, that implies the hearing such as cynical ridiculing bigotry. 

Sarcastic remarks, satiric messages imply the intent of the ridiculing censure and reprobation to other tribal groupings. For example in Wolof homes, children are taught a preconception prejudice “Sosseh du Sossal Ken” and in Mandingo homes “Mandinka baa, all tribes are ‘small’ “ding” like “Jolading,Fulading,Sarahule-ding ,Suruwa Jamba katang”. 

And in other homes” the Wolof say  Peul Jamfa rekk” and the Fulani calling Mandingos “Cheedo and Machuudo” in sarcasm. Most of the time is muttered sarcastically. The other tribal groupings like the Serere, Sarahule, Manjakoes, and the Creoles are equally guilty of stereotyping other tribes teaching their children the same satirical tribalism at the kitchen tables.

We are tired of the ethnic bigotry and hypocrisy of some Gambian politicians. In our everyday Gambian office since time immemorial and during a regular daily activity of a career politician, for example, you walk into a hotel; a Mandingo waiter serves you, a Fula cashier charges you; you are comfortable with that, and you leave for work. You catch a minibus to town, and the driver is a Jola, the conductor is a Sarahule. You pay comfortably, enjoy the ride and you get to town on time. 

In office, your colleagues are a mixture of almost all Gambian tribes. You chat all day laughing all day and even catch a communal meal, Jollof rice and ‘Wonjo juice” during lunch hour. When leaving work, you all wish each other a lovely night and leave the office joyfully but tired. 

You catch a taxi to get home early enough to see your Serere wife. The driver is a Wolof. Before you get to the house, you buy meat from your Manjako friend’s butchery. The watchman, a Creole, opens the gate for you and warmly ushers you into your residence.

All along, you have not noted the diversity of the people you have met that day. Please wait until it gets to an election year, your eyes open. You realise your Wolof friend is a thief, and your Mandingo friend is a hooligan, your Fula friend is watermelon, et cetera.


Let us wake up from worshiping these divisive politicians. Politicians and the media very often use fear to circumvent our logic. I always say the Gambian media, especially social media, are disaster pornographers; they work too much on triggering their audiences and reader’s emotions. 

They are a kind of political reality shows, surprisingly, to many from the Diaspora. When one tribe kills a few others in a village of a group of people, which is, of course, a tragedy, social media coverage could lead one to perceive the whole village is under siege and unsafe. 

We do not ask questions because of fear bypasses logic. When ideologies manage to hold o fear circuitry, we often regrets to illogical, tribal, and aggressive human animals, becoming weapons ourselves- weapons that politicians use for their agenda.

 By Alagi Yorro Jallow 

First published on this platform October 20, 2020. 

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