Mr President, there is no gainsaying that we, as a people, are losing our identity, both individually and collectively. A people who do not know their identity are a lost people and as such will become blind followers of others whom they do not know; or, who have no relation to them.
This is why we see our young ones, in seeking to identify with others, mainly the West, lose all sense of respect and dignity. Take for instance the bane referred to as ‘yuutal’ which is when young men loosen their belts and walk around semi-naked on our streets. Funnily and worryingly, even girls now do this.
Mr President, the Wolof have a saying ‘Ku wacca sa anda, anda boo dem fekka ca borom’. Roughly translated this will mean ‘Whoever leaves your seat/culture/role/responsibility; whichever of these you approach elsewhere you will find the owner/owners on it. Thus, we must take ownership of our culture and traditions.
There appears to be a total disconnect between our people and our tradition and cultural values. When one looks at the way things are evolving in the world today, one will certainly realize that our cultural values and traditional norms are facing an onslaught from globalisation. The world, it seems, is shrinking into a hamlet. What used to be heard of in distant lands can now be viewed and experienced in our own sitting rooms.
What is responsible for this and what can we do to solve the problem and thus avoid the total loss of our culture, tradition and identity?
One of the greatest causes of this loss of identity is the lack of nationalism and patriotism which in turn are effects of lack of knowledge of our culture and tradition. I will just give one example: a few days ago I heard a lot of talk and appreciation about the Kañeleng in the Gambia. Many wrote about it as if they were hearing about it for the first time. All this was because a lady from the West had come here and did some research about it. But the Kañeleng is not new here; the only problem is that Gambians do not celebrate Gambianness.
We have the National Centre for Arts and Culture which was poorly funded during the previous regime. This Centre should be given due priority by being adequately funded to further its work of preserving and disseminating our tradition, culture and heritage.
Mr President, the government should task the University of the Gambia to conduct extensive research on varying subjects relating to our past, our culture, our tradition, our heritage. Then this knowledge, which will be empirical, should be filtered down to the ordinary people. There are so many ways to do this but the fastest and most reliable and sustainable way is through the use if our education system.
The Ministry of Higher Education and that of Basic and Secondary Education, should collaborate with the National Centre for Arts and Culture and the University of the Gambia to find a way of making all the knowledge gained in such work filter down to the ordinary person so as to avoid the unpleasant consequences of a total loss of our cultural heritage and identity.
In this manner, we will regain our identity and be proud of who we are. It is only when we do that that we will be able to take our rightful position in the global setting. Every country is trying to consolidate its position and we, on the other hand, are trying to move away from ours. We must not let this continue.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Sovereign Citizen