By Mafugi Ceesay
His Royal Highness, Dr Appolus Chu, the Egbere Emere Okori of Eleme, Rivers State Nigeria who just completed a three-day working visit in the country has called on Gambians to cherish the country’s existing peace.
During his visit, the king was feted and honoured as Ambassador of Peace at the glitzy 15th Africa Security Watch Awards at Coral Beach Resorts.
He also paid a courtesy call on the first president of the republic, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and took time to visit one of the prominent traditional ruling clans in The Gambia, the Bojangs of Brikama.
Accompanied by a retinue of traditional rulers, the Nigerian king was hosted by Alhaji Bakary Dembo Santang Bojang, the retired police head and former head chief of Kombo Central District. Also present at the ceremony held at the Brikama Suma Kunda bantaba were the paramount chief of The Gambia, Momodou Bojang, headchief of Kombo East, the chairman of the village chiefs association, and other traditional rulers from across the Kombos.
After the welcoming felicitations from the Gambian chiefs, Dr Chu delivered a keynote address in which he extolled the virtues of preserving our cultures and traditions and jealously guarding the prevalent peace in The Gambia.
He said he cannot visit The Gambia to receive his award and breeze out of the country without touching base with the traditional rulers of the country. “In coming to visit your royal household, I am doing what our traditions dictate. Leaders should always mind their footsteps so that their footsteps can be well guided,” he observed.
He said The Gambia might not have the wealth or the grandeur of countries like America, Russia or even Nigeria.
“The one thing that you have is peace. Please cherish the peace you have and make sure nobody takes it because you can only appreciate what you have when you go to places where there is crises. You would come back to The Gambia and hold your parents and cry for the peace they have given you. Protect and guard the unity you have among yourselves today. Let nobody instigate you to go and kill somebody or to go and sell somebody, tell the person to go and sell his own son. I am calling on you, don’t pollute this Gambia. You already have what others are looking for, so keep it so that your future children can continue enjoying it, because peace is everything, peace is wealth,” Dr Chu exhorted.
He said when a king loses influence over his people, the kingdom will suffer because the king can no longer command his people to do anything and the king can no longer enjoy the loyalty of his subjects. He said when the throne is strong, the kingdom will be powerful and when it is weak, the kingdom will be weak.
He said kings feed on the loyalty of their subjects and that the blessings of a king are more potent than those of the priest or the native doctor.
Paramount Chief Bojang of Sukuta said he had to forego a function at the presidency because of the importance of the king’s courtesy call.
He gave a brief outline of the royal lineage of the Bojangs and said King Dr Appolus Chu’s visit is a case of princes meeting princes.
Former Chief Bakary Dembo Santang Bojang said he was overjoyed at the visit of the king and said on behalf of the high council of elders (bulunda) of Brikama he conferred on King Dr Chu honorary citizenship of Brikama, the second biggest town in the country.
Before leaving, HRH Dr Appolus Chu presented copies of his new book to the traditional rulers and gifted the community US$3,000 dollars.
He said he will invite the paramount chief and former chief Bojang of Brikama on a royal visit to his kingdom.
The king’s visit was facilitated by Hon Fatoumata Jahumpa-Ceesay, the former Speaker of the National Assembly and now a consultant on governance, peace and conflict resolution. Mrs Jahumpa-Ceesay is working on a peace summit for kings and traditional rulers in the Ecowas region in 2019.
The Brikama meeting was chaired by Sheriff Bojang, a son of Brikama Suma Kunda who is a former Minister of Information and the proprietor of The Standard, the leading daily newspaper in the country.