25.2 C
City of Banjul
Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tribalism and constitutional constipation

By Mamanding (Johnson) Kuyateh By Mamanding (Johnson) Kuyateh
Constipation is defined as a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces and high level of constraint or restriction of the digestive system many a times for fear of existing systems and/or facilities.Many a times, my Marxist/Leninist/Maoist Comrade cum Friend and I had been locked in disagreement. No matter how I marshalled my arguments I could not persuade him that Pan-Africanism was an African Personality to the World Working Class Movement. For him anything outside “Scientific” Marxist/Leninist theory was charlatan mystification.

Indeed even within Pan-Africanism we faced possible unnecessary “ruptures” between so called “Nkrumahists”; “Garveyists; “Negritudists” “Ghadafists”  Nyererists”  “Jomoists” “Nasserites”; “Sankaraists” “Authenticitists” with all the “ists”and ”imts” of all eras. How had we formed such radically different opinions and attitudes on our common and plights when the information available to all of us at the same time was the same? My friends and I grew up together in the same school(s) and neighbourhood playground since the 1953 Coronation Year when we jointly paraded under the Mohamedan Infant School Banner. We ever since joined the same if not similar clubs and movements during our youthful days.

After University some of us continued as Atheist Marxists and others including myself became a Deist Marxists which indeed reinforced our common respect friendship and bondage for each other Our worldviews were shared by others and widely reflected in literature, folklore, music, language and other aspects of our situational existence. As social beings we seem to look for labels to easily describing our world views with religion, and other socioeconomic and cultural label safe comfort zones as Race, Tribe relating to the suffix list of “isms” neatly stretched to capture and indicate snapshot candy sugar doctrines, body principles and practices.

Suffice it to note that simple dangerous opinions grow up to build attitudes to later strengthen hardcore behaviours; Opinion-Attitude-Behaviour. By the same vein opinions breed tension, attitudes generate disputes and behaviour ignites conflicts leading to wars displacements and refugee syndromes!These wonderful descriptive “isms” encapsulate our social, spiritual and psychological realities and package them for easy marketing and sharing with others! Nationalism and the Rights of Minorities had always been thorny in all countries:

USA, Europe (including ex USSR), Asia, and Australasia: indeed above all Africa today! Paradoxically Chapter 60 of Ancient Manding Empire Constitutional Charter as Declared by Balla Fasekay Kuyateh and Sealed by Soundiata Keita had since 1230 addressed tribal issues well before the respective Magna Charta and The UN Charters! Struggles for power in Africa could become extremely dangerous given the ethnocentric and other chauvinistic affinities linked to the dynamics that cut across inherited colonial border boundaries designed without due recognition of objective geopolitical realities. Many African elites tend to use their roots and strengths from such tribal, religious and narrow-minded juxtapositions to gain power for ultimate economic gains at all costs.

Indeed African Civil Wars are characterized and flamed by endemic cocktail of: “Tribe, Religion, History, National Flags, Hymns and Anthems”.I am not old enough to have seen and known it all but I have lived older and longer than the life expectancy of an average African! All Thanks To GOD unto Him All Decisions. Post colonial Africa has evidences of conjoint struggles for vengeance by ethnic groups that become igniting ramification of bloody keg powder despite our “Laic” Constitutions!The most erroneous of thoughts is to equate and judge a human being by tribal surnames:One basic question for all us: “Which Gambian can claim to have consistently belonged to the same tribe over the past three generations of ascendance? Allow me to propose the following methodology in answer to this question:


1) List the surnames/surname/family name of one’s Father and Mother; 2) List the surnames/family name of each of their Father and Mother; 3) List the same of their respective Grand fathers and mothers, continue the process
We will find out that each and all Gambians would have been Wolof, Fulla, Manjago, Jolla, Mandingo, Serer, Bainounka, Sarahuleh, Koniagi, Mossi,  Ba-Kongo…Shona…ZuluAll during our historical-bio-socio-cultural evolution to this date of our generation!Indeed the most illustrious example is given by The Mouride Saint Cleric Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke who had a Blood Half Brother and Best Companion (of the same mother, called Mam Ibra Fatty better known as Serign Cherno Fatty Mbacke. This goes to proof that Our Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke transcends tribe and tribalism.Indeed Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke had always denounced and fought against all forms of racism and narrow-minded chauvinistic ethnocentrism.


In this regard let us listen to the preamble of Sheik Ahmadu Bamba in his Book Massalik Al-Jinan (which we encourage all to red and many more of his Saint Writings) In this Book Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba wrote: “Do not let my condition of a black-man (Tribe) mislead you about the virtue of this work…. Skin colour (Tribe) cannot be the cause of stupidity”.   I was going through my earlier writings when I saw a Paper I had prepared for the aborted 1983 Second Manding Conference to have been conjointly held by The Dakar Leopold Sedar Senghor Foundation and then Gambia Oral History and Antiquities Division (OHAD). My Presentation was entitled: “Reflections on Conceptual Equations of Naancho- Guelewar-Cheddo in their Common and Shared Geo-Politico-Administrative Zone.

In the above 1983 presentation, I warned against dogmatic identification of tribes by family surnames noting that “Njie” (presumably Wolof) Equates to “Keita” ((presumably Manding) which in turn Equates to “Jatta” (presumably Jolla) whilst Kijera (Manding) equals to “Mahanera” in Sarahulleh and “Kajahay’ in Jahanka. The symbiosis and brewery of family house-names go on…; across the board transgressing ethnicity, country borders frontiers and beyound continents.

Using the Sociological Structural School of Thought:How would you relate my cousin: Amadou Lee’s family name to my Asian Chinese friend Chong Ly or jokingly to my friend Stoke Ly?  Or the Serer Chaw and the Asian Chaw.Do the foregoing family nomenclatures indicate biological relationships between our Lees, Chaws and Asian Chinese of seemingly similar family names. One more proof of names going beyound narrow minded chauvinistic tribal barriers   Suffice it to note that it is criminal and erroneous to judge a person by the Surname.Indeed each time I see my Ghanaian cousins we tease and joke over the fact that present day Ghana Quarteh family appellations are derived my family name Kuyateh of ancient Ghana Empire: think about it without further comments and no heart feelings. Yet still the same brings to mind the Dutch International Footballer Dirk Kuyt and Manding Kuyateh in this age of Globalization of the Global Village.


Wonderfully No Comments!It has to be empathetically not and without ambiguity that our ancestors had put in place “a genuine ethnological parental table of equating family surnames through which corresponding socio-cultural equations and diverse dimensions could be derived; look into the Tribal Social Pact Systems Cousin Sanawya/Sanangu/Kaal systems through which families, tribes and entire populations are bound by Socio/Ethnic Pacts that transcend blood, creed and culture to embrace the ECOWAS Sub-Region and beyound..

Thus: the Eastern Tilibonka of Mali is by Pact cousin Kaal related to Badibounka; The Mandinka of Jarranka is cousin Kaal to Serrer (Niominka); the latter is by the same related to Jola both whom are cousins to the Peul; the latter (Peul) is equally cousin to the Gabunka (Manding); the latter to the Kombonka what a vicious cycle of blood/creed relationships!Has it ever occurred to us that a certain prominent Jawara said to be a Mandingo has a Jola maternal link in the person of Lady Inna Sambou)? Has it occurred to us that a “Jawara” can be Mandingo, Jahanka or a Sarahulleh, that “Sagnia/Sanyang’ could be a Jolla and/or Mandingo or whatever;; that a “Jatta” could be a Mandingo or Jolla; that a “Saidy” could be Mandingo, Jola, Peul: such as Saidy-Bah, Saidy-Khan, Saidy- Lee, Saidy Hydara, Saidy Fatty, Saidy One, Saidy… Saidy….Likewise a Fatty could be Mandingo Kabunka Animist “Maanna” or even a Fatty-Hydara of Holy Arabian Clergy by extension; depending on prevailing circumstances! What two extremes:


Fatty (Animist) Manna to Fatty (Theocratic) Hydara!!!As mentioned above no African has consistently belonged to the same ethnic tribe in three generations of one’s Paternal and Maternal Family Tree.The Origin of The Family, Private Property and The State depicts the following basic ladder of Universal Human Social History:- The Primitive Horde- The Clan (characterized by Military Democracy)- The TribeGoing by the above we soon find that West Africa; indeed the whole of Africa by and large had gone beyound the tribe stages of the human ladder and had leaped into the  Empire and/or Kingdom Stages well before contacts with Europe; for example; – Ghana Empire (III – XI Centuries), – Tekrur (XII-XIII Centuries- Manding Empire (XIII-XVI) including Songhai..


– The Fouta Theocratic Con/Federations: Talansang of 1727- The Jollof Kingdoms (XVII-IX) and the list goes o…It has to be emphasized that all the above Empires, Kingdoms and States had leaped and gone beyound the tribal stages of human societal evolution centuries before our present generation: who are we to cry over the split milk of tribes? Let’s be genuinely honest.Indeed the emergence of the Family Private Property and State with all its variances: modes of production and socio-economic formations relegated tribes and tribalism as hangover phenomena which today are being hung unto and abused by the new Gambian exploitative comprador, petty and aspiring bourgeois strata in search of power socio-economic-political power: which is being used cutting by the elites for socio-political and economic expediency on the detriment of their respective rank and file militants It has to be emphasized that it takes ages (if not centuries) for some moribund systems’ hangover to completely die out as persistent dominated social phenomena   Question:

Wherein lies hen the myth of the African Tribal legacy that is unjustly hung around our neck by our very own detached black skinned white masked intellectual gymnastics glued in the Man Friday Libraries of the lily puts yesteryears!!!     It is therefore unscientific and humanly criminal to judge a person by ones family surname.Equally it is historically mendacious hang on and want revert to tribalism after when our societies had long leaped through this phase centuries ago!Whichever way: At Independence Our Senior Citizens “Strived, Worked, Prayed and Pledged Firm Allegiances” against Ethnocentric Constitutional Constipation as evidenced in our Multi-Coloured National Flag and HymnThe Biological/Tribal Family Should and Must Give Way To, The Ideological Family.

Mark you Tribe and Tribalism negatively used as an umbrella to mask politico-socio-economic class interests. All we need is to look and un-hood to see how oppressive classes connive against the poor irrespective of tribe and tribal belongings Open Your Eyes and Minds from Politics   Remember: Constipation is defined as high level of constraint or restriction of the digestive system many a time for fear of existing (constitutional) systems or facilities bracket ours.Can it therefore be said that Tribalism Engenders Constitutional ConstipationSome facts:1) In the eyes of the African world you are Gambians without any tribal lenses: we are not known as Gambian Mandingo, Gambian Wolof, Gambian Jolla…. 2) In the eyes of Europe, America and Asia you are Africans without tribal lenses nothing as Gambian Peul, Gambian Sarahulay, Gambian Manjago, Aku/Creole…

It’s up to us now to be our own Ambassadors whichever way we would like to be portrayed!Discussions with my above mentioned 1953 Mohamedan School Friend had contributed to our ingenuity for which we had pleasure in playing with some European words into some local language transcripts meant to fill the knowledge gap as rightly or wrongly reproduced below:

 English Mandingo Wolof
Demo-Cracy Bemo-Cracy Mbolloh-Cracy
Tribal-Cracy (Tribalism) Bading-Cracy Mboka-Cracy
Join The Conversation

Latest Stories


By Olimatou Coker The Gambia Judo Association over the weekend elected a new executive committee at its 2nd national congress held at the Gambia Pastoral...