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Sunday, May 15, 2022

Letters: It’s Jammeh’s fault, right?

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Dear editor,
Only those who have no idea how to move The Gambia forward would want to keep talking about Jammeh. We have the opportunity to move The Gambia forward – develop our country and improve the living standards of the people.
It’s the lack of leadership from the Barrow government that is holding The Gambia from moving forward.

If we have had capable political leadership from the Barrow government, we would have had a new constitution by now and the Ecomig forces making preparations to leave The Gambia. The Barrow government was given lots of money to kick start political and economic reforms. But what have we got from the Barrow government?
A stupid national economic development plan called the NDP that talks about the construction of feeder roads and bore holes. Devaluing our national currency that sends the cost of living expenses in The Gambia through the roof. Poorly constituted commissions of inquiry that make more money for the commissioners of the commissions than the state. Commissions of inquiry that instead of setting examples and deterrents are rewarding abuses of power by public officials and the security services. The Gambia is just swirling around in a political and economic development stalemate.

There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for most ordinary Gambians. All that has changed in The Gambia is that Jammeh is gone but the same mismanagement of public funds and abuses of human rights by the security services still persists. And all that the brain dead morons who are supposed to lead the people into better political and economic governance days can think of is to blame Jammeh for their lack of leadership.
It’s preposterous that some equally moronic ordinary Gambians are blaming the other ordinary Gambians for the lack of any political and economic development progress in the country. What happened to those who asked ordinary Gambians to entrust them with better managing the affairs of the state on their behalf? The Barrow government is the worst indecisive government that The Gambia has ever had. A government that is composed of primary school intellectuals led by a newly unqualified teacher as the headmaster of the school.

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Is it any surprising that parents want the school either closed or get their kids to a better school?
It’s not ordinary Gambians but the government that has failed to lead the country into political stability and national economic development.

You must be very stupid after about three years of the removal of Jammeh to continue blaming him for the woeful lack of political leadership in our country.
It’s still Jammeh’s fault why The Gambia doesn’t have a proper hospital and other public services that are vital to living a normal life. It’s still Jammeh’s fault why the dalasi was devalued when Barrow came into power.
And it’s still Jammeh’s fault why we still don’t have a new constitution.
When will it become the fault of the new leaders who are literally running our country into the ground?

Yusupha ‘Major’ Bojang

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What’s a bad name?

Dear editor,
The gradual eclipse of our cultural names like Keluntang, Muskuta, Gidom, Yamundaw and so forth, from the social landscape of the Gambian Muslim community can be ascribed to the Arabisation force, which has been the result of uncritical and passive engagement with Islamic texts and Arab culture. This phenomenon is characterised by the increased exposure of many Gambians to the Arab word and their intellectual products in the last two decades. This did not only contribute to the copy-paste espousal of Arab cultural and traditional names under the pretext of giving “Islamic names” to a child, but it has also contributed to the gradual disappearance of our traditional names.

To begin with, there is nothing called Islamic name as Islam did postulate names to be the names of its followers. The prophet Muhammad (PBH) only instructed Muslims to give GOOD names to their newborns. However, what is considered good is not absolute; rather it is relative and contingent to social contexts. Therefore, while names like Sutay or Nyako will be hardly considered as bad names in the Gambian context, these names would not be regarded as such in the Saudi context, for example. Likewise famous Arabian Gulf names like Muteb, Muqrin, Nayif, Nouf and Ghalia would not be ranked in the category of bad names in Gulf countries; however, such names would be hardly recognised in the Gambian context.

Despite this, there is a tendency among non-Arab Muslim communities across the globe to name their newborns after Arab names to show the level of their commitment to Islam. Nonetheless, most of the names that are considered as “Islamic names” for example, Sumaya, Hafsa, Sultan, Jamil, Hassan, Abdulaziz are pure Arabic names. Likewise Muhammad, Abubacarr, Outhman, Ali, Kaddijatou, Fatoumatou, are pre-Islamic names. For example Prophet Muhammad (PBH) was named Muhammed before he would receive the revelation, and the second caliph Omar bin Khatab didn’t change his name when he converted to Islam. More importantly, some of these names have equivalents in our local culture. For instance the rough translation of Abidu, or Hamidu can be Allamuta, and Allabatu respectively; however, naming your child after Abidu or Hamidu would be more appreciated nowadays than naming him after Allamuta or Allabatu. The same can be applied to Jamila vs Musu-nyima.

Conceivably, some name their kids after the prophet, the companions, Arab scholars and reciters to enable their kids to gain good traits of these people; yet such belief cannot be scientifically proved, and from experiences this is not always the case. Even if it is conceded that such belief is true, the Arabisation has now gone to the extent that the localised names like Momodou, Fatou, Kaddy, Isatou, Jainaba, Ablie, Bakary, have been replaced by Muhammed, Fatima, Kadijah, Zainab, Abdullah, Abubacarr respectively. In some cases a child who is named after his or her grandfather or mother who bears traditional name will be having two names”: one traditional which be hardly known, the other one will be Arabic name “atokendo”, which will be officially recognised.

While it is a choice for everyone to name his or her child after whomever he or she desires, it should be noted that names have symbolic meanings confined to societies and communities. For example name like Kekoi, Naa-toma, Allamuta are specific names of Mandinkas while names like Pateh, Gidom, Cherrno are specific to Fulas; the same applies to Wolof, Jola and so forth. In fact some families have specific names and bear specific meanings as far as that family culture is concerned. For example Nyako is known to be the name of the first female born of Manjang family, while Jainu is the first female born of Sanyang family. Regrettably, this practice is rarely observed as Arab names have invaded our societies.

To address this problem, it is incumbent upon our Islamic scholars to separate what is Arabic and what is Islamic; it is also incumbent upon them to explain to their followers that our traditional names are valid as far as their meanings are not in collision with Islamic creeds, and that naming your child after a famous Arab or Muslim scholars will not enable him or her to be like that person if she or he lacks proper upbringing. Thus, it is time to revitalise our traditional names to protect our identities and preserve our cultural authenticity.
Alieu SK Manjang

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