By Alagie Manneh
The leaders of two opposition parties have joined the chorus of condemnation of an audio recording insulting members of the Wolof tribe.
The vulgar recording was initially released last year but resurfaced last week with the intention to stoke tribal discord in the run-up to the December 4 presidential election.
It was recorded by a Gambian said to be based in Europe, purportedly a supporter of the UDP. However, the UDP last week issued a statement condemning the “vile audio” and distancing his party from its contents. ?
Speaking to The Standard on the matter, Dr Bai Biran Jagne himself a Wolof and leader of the All People’s Party, thrashed the recording as “disgusting”.
“Basically, the audio was insulting the Wolofs. It was in Mandinka. We at the All People’s Party categorically show in the strongest possible term our disgust and anger with this verbal abuse of not only the Wolof tribe but any other tribe in the country. The Gambia is a country of many tribes, and no political party can win an election without getting the votes of the other tribes,” he said.
The medical doctor said the recording and release of the audio was calculated only to sow “seeds of hatred and bigotry” among Gambians, and appealed to the parties in whose names such hateful statements are made to publicly condemn and dismiss them.
“We advise all Gambians to shun and ignore all abusive language in politics. We hope that whoever this person is, and whichever party he belongs, he should be confronted by their executive and party leaders and eventually dismissed from that party. The APP party promotes peace and prosperity for all Gambians,” Dr Jagne concluded.
The leader of the Brufut-based Gambia Alliance for National Unity, the sheriff, Sheikh Tijan Hydara, released a statement earlier this week expressing his great “shock and sadness”, over the release of the audio.
The former justice minister and lawyer stated: “Such act is beyond the limits of democracy and tantamount to hate speech, hence it has the potential of sparking tribal conflict in our society. Ganu condemns it in the strongest terms as it is undone, rude, nasty and uncalled for.
“In the recent past, we have witnessed similar cases where different people from various tribes circulated audios of people engaging into tribalism by insulting one tribe and another. We are fed up with such an ugly behaviour as it has no place in decent society. Insulting one another must stop and must not be encouraged at all. This is neither democracy nor freedom or free speech, as freedom does not give anyone the right to offend another person or group.
“Such issues are threats to national security and must be condemned as it can trigger tribal war if not resolved.
“Therefore, it is imperative for The Gambia government to look into such issues that can spark tribal conflict in our country and ensure that the defaulters are reprimanded according to the law.
“We cannot continue to live in such a society where politics of tribal sentiments, hate speech and lies become the order of the day. Such acts are is barbaric, outdated and ex-communicated and must be stopped immediately. We should rather think of how to solve our society’s problems, as well as contribute effectively towards national development, unity and strengthen the existing peace and stability we have before it too late. The Gambia is a land of peace and tranquility and this must be nurtured at all times,” he concluded.