I just shared the post associated with Morgan Freeman, the actor, which says, “Just because I disagree with you does not mean that I hate you”.
I understand, therefore, that the reactions to my piece to DA Jawo’s article were not because I was hated, but because I was misread and misunderstood. This is the beauty of open dialogue and intellectual discourse.
I wish to state here that my article was no disrespect to DA Jawo. He is the most respectable journalist I have known all my life: humble and kind, and well established as a writer of opinions on political matters mainly. I do sometimes disagree with some of his opinions, but I like him very much for his humility.
I also appreciate very much the reaction of Madi Joberteh, the human rights activist. We do disagree on issues, but we have always cherished the stance of defending the rights of minorities and the vulnerable.
It is unfortunate when people focus more on my conversation with the Fulas, which many wanted me to complete so that they could gauge my reactions to their tribal remarks.
First, I admit that there was no ‘Aliens’ card during the Jawara era and I accept responsibility for the error, but there was a residence permit.
However, I maintain the discrimination and hostility to be true, even in the Jammeh era. By nature, the settlers, when manhandled by security forces, meekly accept their fate and do not complain.
In fact, they had no one to complain to if they were manhandled by the security forces (police, immigration, or army). So to have to substantiate that, Madi, would be difficult.
To clarify further, the Fula in question are the settlers from Guinea Conakry, and not the indigenes from Fulladu. The settlers are mainly shopkeepers, exchange bureau owners, and major businessmen, who came and settled here for many decades.
It is their children who mainly get the birth certificate with the NGP on it even decades after they have been here. So please, Madi, correct that part in your article.
My piece was more focused on the issue of citizenship crises, but it seemed the portion that seemed to indicate that I am a tribalist was what was highlighted. It is regrettable that it was understood like that…
It seems that all those who knew me really, knew what I meant, and none saw me as a tribalist. If truly I am a tribalist, i could not have hidden that fact all my five decades of existence in our beloved Gambia. It would have shown among my co-workers, among my staff, my students, my friends, my associates. That cannot be hidden. I coordinated scholarships, appointed people, mentored the youth, promoted non-discrimination almost to my peril, encouraged tolerance and good neighbourliness, and never showed any tribal sentiment,. How is it then that an example of a conversation in a fleeting moment of my half-century of existence makes me a tribalist?
Do I love my culture? It is indisputable. Do I promote all cultures and respect for cultural diversity? This is my dream! I know what our collective values mean for our development, so I have always been an advocate. This is the reason I am always with my Fulani people and promote peace and tolerance through cultural education. This is why the Fula communities have such high regard for me. If I were encouraging tribalism, they would be the first to shun me. I am privileged by their understanding and respect, and I will continue to educate and advocate.
I admit my pen had had its ink caked, so I will have to reheat the ink. I need to sharpen the pencil and begin to write because my rusty writing skills have created this huge misunderstanding between us.
Thank you all very much!