Banjul Ulama summit praised for first handshake of Gambia’s biggest political rivals

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By Lamin Cham

A renown Islamic scholar and imam, name withheld, has told The Standard that the first success of the recent international meeting of the Ulamas in Banjul was achieved on the spot, but unfortunately missed by the media.

The meeting was called by the Gambia government and the World Muslim League and attended by 81 official domestic and international delegates and over a thousand Islamic religious leaders on the theme, clearing misconceptions and, principally, promoting tolerance and peaceful existence in diversity.


The secretary general of the World Muslim League was special guest of President Adama Barrow, both of whom celebrated the event with religious ministers and delegates from 38 countries.  The delegates departed after exploring and forging an international platform to propagate the theme and objective of the conference.

But according to our source, a prominent imam who attended the event, the success of the event was achieved when for the first time since a very bitterly contested election that divided Gambians was held, the two main players met in a hearty handshake.

”The organisers did a perfect job in line with the objective of the meeting by inviting people from diverse persuasions and this resulted in a meeting between President Barrow and the biggest opposition leader Ousainu Darboe who shook hands and posed to take photo that has told a thousand story,” our source said. He added that for whole one year since the election, there has never been and there probably will never be an opportunity for these two people to meet.

”The Ulama conference provided that opportunity right here. I don’t want to talk on political matters hence my decision to hide my identity but we all know that the tension between the two men reached every soul and corner of this country in the last year. Both commanded a huge following with passionate rivalry that continued even after the election. No one knows just how can the two find a place in their hearts to forgive and reconcile with each other for the nation to march forward. So the God-sent opportunity of a meeting during the Ulama conference was significant and a proud moment for all who were part of the organisation of the conference,”our source said.