By Amadou Jadama
A delegation of imams, alkalolu and community leaders from Baddibu on Monday visited Garowol, a big settlement in Kantora to mediate in a bitter caste dispute among some 53 Serahuleh communities.
Traditionally, the people of Baddibu and Serahulehs have strong relations that allow them to throw jabs at each other without raising hostilities.
The delegation hoped to use that age-old mutual respect to broker peace among the feuding Serahuleh communities over who is a noble or a slave.
The delegation, under the Upper Baddibu Development Association, went to Garawol to diffuse a tension that resulted in some 42 caste-related court cases between people from the same community.
Alhaji Alhaiba Hydara, the imam of Banjul International Airport, who was part of the team, recited an emotional verse from the Qur’an that moved the audience to tears. “This verse talked about Muslims, human beings and not tribes or races. This is what should guide all of us,” he told the gathering, adding that Prophet Muhammad had said anyone who engages in divisive actions shall never enter paradise. The Imam said God dislikes disputes especially anything that discriminates or divides people.
“The Qur’an also states that when two Muslim sects are in conflict, one should reconcile them and deal with them with honesty,” the Airport Imam added.
He said that Serahulehs are known to be knowledgeable and serious people who also keep close social ties and that must be the norm at all times.
Another speaker, Alhaji Seedy Mukhtarr Jaiteh, the Imam and Alkalo of Njaba Kunda who led the delegation, said the belief of nobles and slaves existed in all African traditions ages ago but it has since been replaced with new realities and education which makes everyone realise that all human beings are equal and must be treated as such.
He said the most effective way to stop the notion is to end invoking those traditions at naming ceremonies, burials and other events.
“As from today, we want this problem to end now, and we want to ensure that all the pending court cases are withdrawn immediately,” Imam Jaiteh assured the gathering.
Sulayman Dampha, a youth member of the delegation, said youths in the area should be the agents of change to ensure that this dangerous traditional belief is not handed down to the next generation.
Gambia’s Kora King, Jaliba Kuyateh who attended the mediation, urged the Serahuleh community to heed the appeal from Baddibu to settle this caste problem now and forever. Muhammed Magassy, the NAM for Basse, thanked the Baddibunkas for their intervention. He paid tribute to the late GRTS staff Sise Sawaneh, who he said had worked tirelessly for this type of mediation in the matter.
Tachineh Ceesay, the Alkalo of Garawol, thanked the people of Baddibu for showing interest in the matter and urged his community members to heed the call from the visitors and unite as one people. To mark the successful end of the mediation, two key members of the opposing groups Ebrima Ceesay of Garawol and Abubacarr Jaiteh from Misiraba Mariama, shook hands and promised never to refer to each other as slaves or nobles. Jaliba Kuyateh wrapped up the successful mission on a high note by composing a peace song on the spot, much to the entertainment and emotions of the group present.