By Alagie Manneh
Dembo ‘By Force’ Bojang, the national president of the NPP who doubles as religious adviser to President Adama, has come under heavy criticism for comments he made at an NPP political rally in Bakau on Monday.
In a video recording of his statement at the meeting that has gone viral, Mr Bojang accused “a certain party” believed to be UDP, of engaging in tribal bigotry.
“If you are a Karonica, they will say you are not a citizen of this country and you must go to Karon. But if you are a Mandinka and speak Mandinka, they will say you are a citizen of The Gambia. So, you the Fulas, the Jolas, Sereres and Karonikas, the burden is on your head. If we lose Adama Barrow, we will find ourselves in a type of hand that will send away members of tribes who are not Mandinka from this country. The entire Fula tribe will pack their things and go. They will send away all Jolas from this country. So, if we lose Adama Barrow all tribes that are not Mandinka will be sent out of this country.”
Responding to Mr Bojang’s comments lawyer Abdoulie Fatty said: “These [are] dangerous comments. It’s not safe and should be reported to the police. It was comments like these that served as catalyst for the violence in Rwanda. As a presidential adviser, he cannot be making those comments. He should be reported to the police and the police should arrest him.”
Ba Jabbi, the rapporteur of the Inter-Party Committee, said Mr Bojang’s remarks bear “all the hallmark of hate speech”.
“This is very unfortunate. The Inter-Party Committee has been campaigning against such dangerous and hateful speeches. We condemn in the strongest terms any remarks that is pointing to tribe, religion and gender for political gains. We feel very strongly that instead of bringing peace, these comments by the presidential adviser will destroy the social order of this country before and after election. It is a divisive, hateful and dangerous speech coming from an elderly statesman.”
UDP spokesperson, Almami Taal called the comments “nonsense”.
He said: “How can you take a citizen out of his or own country? What I am surprised about is that the IEC is not coming out to condemn this. If people want to bring that kind of politics in The Gambia, it must be condemned by the whole community. How can you debunk nonsense like that? Sir Dawda was president of this country for 32 years and he was Mandinka. After all the things that have been heaped on him, for Dembo ‘By Force’ to stand in Bakau and say nonsense like this. I hope he wasn’t saying it in Mandinka. If he was speaking in Mandinka, that shows you the level of stupidity displayed by these guys. He has nothing else to tell the people. If they are saying these kinds of things to the people three days before the election, I think the media should highlight some of the emptiness of some of these people. Anybody talking about tribe now in the 21st century in The Gambia, you have nothing to offer the people. I have never heard nonsense like this in my life! Gambians are related and have blood ties that nobody can upset or disbalance. For me as a Gambian, I am offended that the media wants to carry this as a story instead of condemning him. This is exactly what led to the Rwandan genocide.”