The Gambian Constitution has guaranteed the right of every person – citizen or resident of the Gambia – to enjoy and practice their culture so long as they do not contravene the Constitution or infringe on the rights of others or undermine national unity.
This means the Yoruba community like any other community or group of people in this country have the right to promote and practice their culture. Hence Yoruba residents in the Gambia have a right to come together to enstool their king in line with their culture. How does not interfere or undermine the laws of the Gambia or violate anyone’s rights?
The Yoruba community does not need the permission of the Paramount Chief or the President of the Gambia and indeed any other citizen to practice their culture in this country. This group of people who claim to be Yoruba living in the Gambia have not infringed on any other person’s rights in the Gambia. They have not violated any provision of the 1997 Constitution, nor have they undermined the unity of the Gambia.
Therefore, on what authority should the Paramount Chief claim that this community should be stopped from upholding their culture. This Yoruba community here have not forced any Gambian to recognize their monarchy. They have not even forced any Nigerian to recognize their king for which they have no power to do so. They have not attacked any community in the Gambia, nor have they prevented any Gambian or resident of the Gambia from also practicing their own culture.
Every ethnic group or nationality in the Gambia have a culture and a way of life. So long as such culture or way of life does not violate the Constitution, then such people have a right to promote their culture. Therefore, I hereby call on the Paramount Chief to protect the Yoruba Community in the Gambia to live their lives and practice their culture in peace. It is not for the Paramount Chief to determine which culture should be practiced in the Gambia.
I would have expected that the Paramount Chief would rather reach out to the Yoruba community and to other nationalities and cultural groups in the Gambia so as to forge partnerships for the cultural development of the Gambia and those countries and Africa as a whole. There are many African communities that maintain their traditional practices and structures both at home and abroad. These traditions need to be promoted to encourage African values and norms, showcase the diversity and beauty of Africa and promote African unity. This is the path that the Paramount Chief need to follow, and not to seek to limit and condemn fellow human beings for their culture.
The time has come for Gambians to stand up against bigotry and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, nationality, and other sectarian ideas. We must recognize that diversity is a human right because every person and every group of people are different, but we all belong to this society and in this world. Hence what we need to promote is inclusion, equality, and freedom for all. After all, Gambians in Nigeria, or Europe or in America also practice their traditions and cultures in these places and they have a right to do so.
It is high time the Government comes out boldly to address citizens who assume for themselves the arrogant title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ or ‘Defender of the Culture’ or ‘Defender of the Tribe’ and similar arrogant titles. There is no “Defender of Anything’ in this country. We just have a Constitution and all must respect and uphold that Constitution for peace, respect, and calm to prevail on the land. That’s all.