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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Letters: On the EU and their affront to our religion and culture: Let’s break the ‘yabaateh’


Dear editor,

From the dusty scrolls of our colonial history to the muddy records of our post-independence interactions with Europe and her allied institutions, our past is replete with Europe’s meting Out of injustice and condescension on African countries. One would have thought that the West would have learned some lessons of decency as we stand on the threshold of a new dispensation where Africa is regarded as the new frontier in global macroeconomic progress and cultural renaissance.

But history has not been very useful as a teacher for the arrogant and boastful empire masters of the world, from the days of the pharaohs of Egypt to the European pharaoh called Adolf Hitler.

Diplomacy requires respect for the sovereignty, integrity and cultural ethos of the host countries of Ambassadors. But the European Union mission in The Gambia seems to have no regard for these norms.

On Sunday, May 17, the EU mission in The Gambia announced the launch of a programme to promote homosexuality in The Gambia, with clear reference to the fact that the EU is giving millions of dollars of aid money to our government with contingent requirements of promotion of human rights. The EU representative stated that their campaign is launched with the hashtag #BreakTheSilence.

It is an affront to our dignity and cultural ethos that the EU should make such a pronouncement on the sacred land of The Gambia, home of the late Sheikh Kang Khalifa Jabbie, Cherno Bubacarr Jallow of Bansang and the many other saintly souls that lie within the bosom of our sacred land.

Launching such a despicable campaign at any time is a travesty of justice and mockery of our sacred ideals. But making the declaration in the Holy month of Ramadhan and during the last 10 days of this month defies all logic and runs counter to the philosophy of diplomacy. But more importantly, the timing and spirit of this declaration of the organized promotion of homosexuality in this sacred period of our fasting is an insult to all people of faith.

Gambia is a country of religious people, Muslims and Christians, and therefore we do not support homosexuality. We do not want to encourage it either. We are not going to every corner of our country to search for homosexuals to persecute them; I am not advocating and will never encourage anyone to attack or harm anybody because of their lifestyle or personal choices; but we will not allow anybody to insult us by defying our culture and religious sensitivities to create a platform that would deliberately alter the nature and sanctity of our belief system.

In view of the foregoing, I hereby solemnly appeal to all our imams and priests to seek audience with the President of the Republic of The Gambia to ask for clarification of the conditions they have agreed with the European Union regarding their aid package for The Gambia. Our religious and cultural leaders should also confront our Minister of Foreign Affairs to ask the EU Mission to The Gambia to retract their obnoxious declaration, apologise to Gambians and cancel their #BreakTheSilence campaign with immediate effect.

To the young men and women of this country who have a connection with our scared ethos and culture, I hereby call on you to join me and all the conscientious Gambians to launch our own campaign to be called “break the yabaateh”. What the EU is doing in our country is nothing but disrespecting us and trying to humiliate us in our own country. This is classic ‘yabaateh’ as the Wolofs would put it. Therefore, I solemnly appeal to all the ‘ndongos’ in the hoods to embrace the hashtag #BreakTheYabaateh.

May Allah protect and guide us and all those who love God and strive to maintain decency and adherence to natural order and law as prescribed by the authentic holy scriptures.

Momodou Sabally
Former Presidential Affairs Minister

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