Since former president Yahya Jammeh was ousted, one of the constant and ugly features of the so-called New Gambia is fight over either land or alkaloship.
For the past half decade, we have had at least eight incidents of such scuffle between elders of villages as regards who becomes the alkalo. From Bakau, Abuko, Tallinding, Bakoteh, Serekunda to Latrikunda Yeringanya, these places have not been the least harmonious.
Take for instance Bakau, a local electoral process was conducted to pick the alkalo after the demise of Alhaji Luntang Jaiteh. Dodou Bojang was then declared the winner but Suruwa Jaiteh, who contested against him, said the process was fraudulent and filed suit at the high court challenging Dodou.
Suruwa declared that the process of Dodou Bojang’s nomination and/or endorsement was not in compliance with the mandatory requirements to be alkalo of Bakau.
Unfortunately, Mr Jaiteh passed away before the case was concluded. Regardless of the outcome, the issue has already created division in the community.
For Tallinding, the tension over whether the Badjies or the Chams are the rightful alkalolu reached a boiling point until KMC had to intervene. The acrimony was palpable and visible in the community. Solved or not, it was ugly to see division proudly embraced by both sides for long.
The recent and protracted Latrikunda Yeringanya alkaloship crisis was no different. The dispute over the town’s alkaloship erupted after Swaebou Faal, son of the recently demised alkalo Alh Amadou Faal and Pa Omar Faal, son of a one-time alkalo Alh M.O Faal, claimed hereditary rights with each citing tradition. Protests and tension ensued in the community for over a year now. Even though the local government ministry decided to appoint Pa Omar Faal eventually, the disunity created in the process will remain in the community.
Yesterday, riot police had to intervene when youths in Manduar and those of Touba Manduar clashed over which alkalo gives attestation to potential voters. This story is one too many and the government needs to do its utmost to solve the pervading alkalo crisis across the country. Alkalo crisis is leadership crisis and it has the potential to cause tension and confrontation in relatively calm communities. Act now before it is too late.