The recent decision to rename three mosques in Banjul after some Arab/Islamic clerics, by all accounts, goes against the grain. While Gambians owe it to the religion to respect and revere those original Islamic clerics and scholars, like all other countries, we also need to adapt the religion to suit our reality as a nation of proud people rather than always looking up to other peoples and cultures to emulate.
If indeed it is necessary to change the names of those mosques (which I very much doubt as those names were quite adequately serving their purposes), then we have quite a large pool of deserving Islamic scholars to name them after rather than giving them names which have very little relevance to our Gambian norms and values.
For instance, the people of ‘Half-Die’ would relate much better to naming their mosque after Imam Momodou Lamin Bah, during whose tenure it was upgraded and dedicated as a place for Friday prayers than calling it Masjid Umar Bun Khatab which means virtually nothing to a greater majority of the people of ‘Half-Die’.
It is a similar thing with the other two mosques, particularly the Independence Drive Mosque, which would have had more historical symbolism if it were named after Imam Mama Tumani, who is said to have been the first Imam Ratib of Banjul at that very mosque.
The new names are however a mere formality because, just like the Banjul streets most of which were renamed several years ago, hardly anyone would ever remember those names, let alone use them. The people will continue to refer to those mosques as to their geographic locations.
Therefore, this is yet another apparent indication that some authorities are not operating on the same frequency with the masses, otherwise, such decisions should have been done in consultation with the people rather than over their heads.
Proud of Bakary Papa Gassama
I am very pleased that Gambian referee Bakary papa Gassama is at the World Cup officiating games. The success of Mr Gassama is due to the conducive environment created by His Excellency, Sheikh, Professor, Alhaji, Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh the president of the republic. The Gambian people thank the president for his personal contribution towards the success of people like Bakary Papa Gassama who has now become an ambassador and symbol of Gambian football on the world stage.
Being one of the best referees on the continent, Gassama joined the ranks of other two renowned referees from Africa for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. In fact, he has made his debut in the World Cup tournament on Wednesday June 18th as the fourth referee in the match between The Netherland and Australia. Bakary Gassama is the only person representing The Gambia on the pitch in Brazil. Therefore on behalf of the Gambian population at large I seize this opportunity to thank everyone for the support given to enable him reach this high level.