By Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Barrow Administration for security the legitimate court orders to freeze or repossess assets that former president dictator Yahya Jammeh grabbed from the Gambian commonwealth. It’s gratifying to learn from the new Nigerian Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Obe that our brotherly nation of Nigeria will assist in recovering our wealth stolen by dictator Jammeh and his lackeys. The shocking revelations before the ongoing Janneh Commission, on the “Nigerian factors” in the pillage of our resources serve as good orientation towards a successful recovery plan.
As President Adama Barrow sets outs for a state visit to Nigeria on 16 January 2018, I would like to draw the attention of the investigating authorities of The Gambia, Nigeria, the World Banks and others involved in the asset search and recovery, to the plots of lands as well as the monies that former president Jammeh “owned” but used the names of Nigerian and Ghanaian movie stars both in Africa and the United Kingdom as fronts by packaging them as donations or gifts. There is no evidence that Yahya Jammeh legally acquired those plots and the monies he was dishing out to them in the first instance. He therefore could not legally donate what is not his legitimate asset. I pray that the Justice Ministry, the Janneh Commission, the Courts or the assets recovery commission declare the donations null and void in the interest of The Gambia and forfeit the assets to The Gambian state. The investigations or recovery plan can be expanded to include entertainers/artists from Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Jamaica and the United States of America. Even Gambian artistes who were wasting taxpayers’ money from dictator Jammeh should be summoned before the Janneh Commission or subsequent investigators.
It can be recalled that we Gambians were shocked to learn from foreign media outlets on 11 October 2015 that former dictator Jammeh through his then vice president Isatou Njie Saidy grabbed Gambian lands and allocated them to a group of Nigerian and Ghanaian stars without the due process and fair play.
Always acting under the pretext of Pan Africanism, the failed dictator Jammeh had a penchant for wasting our meager resources on fly-by-night actors and actresses as well as singers who shamelessly boosted his ego. It is an open secret that former president Jammeh supported only artistes and entertainers who were prepared to produce praise songs, videos and movies for his dictatorial propaganda while marginalizing the conscientious cultural entrepreneurs who used film and media arts for socio-cultural advocacy. As additional insult to Gambians, he hired the Nollywood hustlers and “prostitutes” to join his December 2016 presidential campaign when Gambians were yearning for a change from his decadent system. I salute the Gambian voters for vindicating me in their historic rejection of “system Jammeh” on 01 December 2016 through democratic means. I believe the Coalition 2016 leaders are not forgetting this lesson to Jammeh:
marginalizing or sidelining your skilled talents would lead to self-defeat!
In their arrogant defense of the abuse of Gambians by dictator Jammeh, Ejike Asiegbu ,one of the notoriously corrupt Nollywood figures claimed that “President Jammeh’s respect and love for African contents especially Nollywood goes a long way to express the intensity of his Pan African drive towards restoring and protecting the heritage of Africa. It was President Jammeh’s request to come up with collaborative initiatives to help build the Gambian movie industry to satisfy the hunger and interest of the good and peaceful people of the Gambia….
“One will forever remain grateful for the value President Jammeh has placed on our industry and for his magnanimity towards our colleagues especially the choice piece of land, so we are not threatened by Prince Babuccar’s infantile threats.” Asiegbu bragged on behalf of his greedy fat-cat colleagues. Collaborative initiative my foot: I call it pillaging of Gambian treasury initiative.
The fact is, with all those years of financial and other favours of dictator Jammeh towards those hustlers and their supposed collaborative efforts in building the Gambian film industry, our country is still lagging behind in terms of film development. The over-rated Nollywood and Gollywood “experts”, are not that worthy. Without due consideration of the pains of Gambians under 22 years of capricious dictatorial rule, those imported quacks directly and indirectly joined former President Jammeh in exploiting Gambian taxpayers and to date, cannot show us sustainable structures they built between Kartong and Koina for the Gambian entertainment/creative/movie industry. Pan African solidarity in their understanding means enjoying with a dictator and insulting some of us the concerned stakeholders who spoke truth to power with reason.
I wrote extensively on this issue. See my article titled „Sankanu labels Nigerian Actors as promoters of Dictatorship in Africa” and other references below. I made it clear that I am open to win-win solidarity with film enthusiasts from across Africa and the world within the context of mutual respect. Those who defended Jammeh’s illegal land allocations failed to see that both the Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries were built by their home-grown talents and not by the Chinese, Americans, Japanese or Europeans first. Charity, the old adage teaches us, begins at home.
What is now the problem when we the pioneers of our New Gambian film industry are striving to build our Cinekambiya film industry according to our peculiarities? It will be unfair to call us xenophobes or anti-foreigner when we are just doing what is right according to international standards. Both Ghana and Nigeria have set barriers for non-citizens wanting to make films in their countries meant to give breathing space to their domestic entertainment industries. See the article titled “Asiegbu’s Attempt to Manufacture Xenophobia” against Sankanu written by Max below.
If at all am anti-Nigerian or anti-foreigner, I would not have organized my classy wedding at the exclusive Nigerian highbrow and expensive borrow of Lekki in Lagos, the equivalent of our Gambia’s Fajara on 12 March 2017. I have also been sponsoring entertainment projects of genuine Nigerian and Sierra Leoneans brothers and sisters who have permanently settled in The Gambia. Anyway,
I stood the heat over wastage of our resources on outside stars as the international media including BBC, China Central TV and others published my 2015 defense of Gambia’s meager resources against dictatorial plunder. My prophecy that Yahya Jammeh would not be in officer longer came true a year later. I am therefore humbled.
Now my request to the President Adama Barrow Government, our Justice Minister, Minister of Finance, the Minister of Lands, the Nigerian High Commission and the committee investigating Jammeh questionable land deals is that, as part of the healing and restorative justice process, it should forfeit those lands that Jammeh grabbed and gave to the Nollywood/Gollywood stars and instead allocate them to Gambian talents. We need some of those properties our common Cinekambiya creative cluster.
I am humbled that without waiting for dictator Jammeh’s blessings, I defiantly launched the Gambia’s first ever annual Cinekambiya International Film Festival (CIFF) in 2015. Though less than 20 people attended the maiden edition of the film festival in Manduar due to the fear of reprisals from Yahya Jammeh, I made history and the 3rd edition of CIFF from the 25 to the 30 December 2017 will be a remarkable milestone. I am funding all these pioneering work from my pockets. Subsequent serious academic study of the Gambian film industry will never be competed without a reference to my names “Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu.”
Thanks to my current well-paid work in Germany, I can use part of my disposable income to fund quality Gambian films without begging any entity for money. Barely a month after President Adama Barrow was sworn-in on the 18th February 2017 on the Gambian soil, I premiered PAIN OF SORROW on the 21st March 2017 as the first film produced in New Gambia. My film PAIN OF SORROW has stimulated and inspired additional local Gambian film projects by other home-grown stakeholders.
If at all those Nollywood/Gollywood and actors and actresses or “experts” spent even one percent of the monies and other resources they got from dictator Jammeh under the so-called Gambian-Nigerian collaboration, our filmmakers would have been producing at least 50 Gambian films a year by now. The reality is that they are not worth the hypes being generated around them.
As the Barrow Administration is implementing the National Development Plan 2018-2021, I humbly request it to empathize on effective diversification that should prominently include the arts and culture or the creative economy (film, music, fashion, electronic arts, etc.). They are closer to the youths and productive populations who can secure gainful employment from the performance arts ventures. The arts and entertainment can also help in reintegrating most of the “back way” youths with passion for the creative arts.
Gambian voters gave President Adama Barrow and his government the legitimate mandate for a New Gambia and they should not shy away from total divorce from the Jammeh style of frustrating local talents. The dictator has used his 22 years in power to build a system for self-perpetuation. I appreciate the fact that transiting from 22 years of maladministration is not a quick fix and would require time and genuine efforts from all well-meaning Gambians and friends of The Gambia. However, the Barrow transition should resist temptations of maintaining the Jammeh system and cabals not relevant for a progressive Gambia.
At the time of writing this piece, I got hints that some Nollywood and Gollywood folks are devising means of scavenging on President Barrow and his government as they were doing with dictator Jammeh. If they succeed again, it will be national enslavement! We need to address the wrongs of the Jammeh years first before working on a new partnership.
The Gambanization of the judiciary is an excellent strategy and pray that the Gambianization of the creative/entertainment sectors would be given due priority attention. Under dictator Jammeh I could not make a single film but within President Barrow’s ten months in office, I made at least five (5) standard films (PAIN OF SORROW in English language, KUU BUKA LABANG in Mandingo language, HISIRINWALLE in Sarahulleh language, BLEEDING BLADE in English language on FGM in The Gambia, IT IS MEAN TO BE in English language) involving over 180 Gambian talents. This is a record for a country we are using our personal resources to build the national film industry without domestic or outside funding. For 2018, I will make at least ten (10) Gambian feature films and at least three (3) mini-series for TV audiences, all things remaining equal.
The author is a pioneer of CineKambiya New Gambian Film Industry.
Asiegbu’s Attempt To Manufacture Xenophobia
http://www.kaironews.com/asiegbu-attempts-to-manufacture-xenophobia/ (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
The Gambia ‘missing millions’ after Jammeh flies into exile http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38714007 (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
Gambia: Nollywood, Gambian Filmmaker At War Over President Jammeh’s Land Gifts
http://allafrica.com/stories/201510280130.html (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
Sankanu labels Nigerian Actors as promoters of Dictatorship in Africa
http://gainako.com/sankanu-labels-nigerian-actors-as-promoters-of-dictatorship-in-africa/ (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
Gambian President’s Land Gift to Nollywood Stars opposed by Local Film maker
http://africa.cgtn.com/2015/10/28/gambians-president-land-gift-to-nollywood-stars-opposed-by-local-film-maker/ (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
Over 187 Gambian Youth Empowered by Prince Sankanu’s film projects http://whatson-gambia.com/news/headline-news/1964-over-187-gambian-youths-empowered-by-prince-sankanu-s-film-projects (Accessed on 30.10.2017).
For The Gambia Our Homeland,
Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu
Master of Letters in Film Studies: Theory and Practice (University of Stirling, Scotland, UK)
Digital Film and Animation Diploma (SAE Institute, Cologne, Germany)
Sanxaanu Kaggoro Film Kaffo (SANXAAFI)/Team Sankanu, Tallinding
CineKambiya International Film Festival (CIFF)