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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Women cannot lead men

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It is true that all men are born equal and it is true that behind every successful man there must be a woman. Having said that, I think women in general should be empowered and given more roles to play towards the socio-economic development of this country. If the saying that a single tree cannot make a forest is true, then men cannot do it all alone. We need women as much as we need men and we should put them high on our development agenda. However, following the recent deafening   calls by feminist activists and opposition leaders for greater women participation in politics, I felt the need to stand up and take responsibility in reminding those activists that no matter how important, educated and honored such women may be they can never be as important as the man which has basis in Islamic religion. Therefore, the recent call for future female president is totally misleading and irresponsible. We may be equal in the eyes of God but only few men view it that way in this worldly life.

Of course we have seen female leaders in the West and even in Africa lately, but The Gambia is a totally different land with big cultural and traditionally different values than others. Calling for gender parity in such a brazen manner will undoubtedly tarnish and undermine those values that have been existing for centuries. Secondly, The Gambia despite its secular constitution has strong Islamic influence. Therefore, supporting such motion will undermine that strong Islamic and cultural ethos of our society. Islam only commands men to lead and women to follow. If the latter should lead the way now or in the foreseeable future, God forbid, this country will divide and fall down like a pack of cards and shall never rise again.

Let us remember the teachings of Allah as true Muslims and Christians whilst remembering at all times  what our religion has taught us in dealing with such wayward trends. No matter how educated women might be, they are still considered weak and vulnerable needing protection from men. That is how it has been for ages; men rule and women follow. It should stay that way.

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Muhammad Kalleh,

Sanyang Village,

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Kombo South.



The inimitable gaffer – Dr ABS Taal


Dear editor, 


I used to call him “Doc”; I imagine that many others did; for he had a sort of chilled-out manner which quite easily invited uncouth familiarity. My first encounter with him was in late 2006 at the office of the Observer newspaper in Bakau. He was the MD, and I had just got there to begin my first job in journalism, as senior editor. 

I walked into his office (I didn’t personally know him at the time), and a slender man, taller than I was, with a sharp-featured face, stood up to greet me with a smile as distinctive as his sense of dress. There was a hint of rakishness in his bearing; and luckily for me he exuded a natural bonhomie which immediately cut through my nervousness, and set me at ease. 

Within a week, I knew why his body was so spare: most of its flesh went to his heavy-water brain, forming a rich stew of ideas and interests which made him an inexhaustible teacher and conversationalist; and indeed a controversialist. On any topic, whether one agreed with him or not, one still took great delight in the sheer intellectual exuberance, and the range of his mental palette: he was as comfortable with the ancients, such as Livy and Machiavelli, as with the moderns, such as Richard Dawkins and Samuel Huntingdon. He had all the charming egotisms that bright people usually have, but none of the vulgar snobbery that lesser egos easily succumb to. He wore his Ph D not on his sleeves, but had it weaved into his manner and his style, his politics and his ethics, for he was a Doctor of Philosophy with a philosophy. (There is a longstanding rumour that there are many doctors of philosophy without any philosophy whatsoever). 

He represented, for me, an interesting model of how to combine the ‘modern’ and the ‘traditional’, in forming a cultural identity in contemporary Africa. And he neither bowed, unconditionally, to the ‘modern’ nor pandered, uncritically, to the ‘traditional’.  His wasn’t the sort of mind that could be boxed up in mere conventionality, of whatever hue: for he very well understood that mere conventionality was not the same thing as righteousness. To each circumstance, therefore, he applied the logic suited to it, cutting across traditions in a manner appropriate to our eclectic times. His, it could be remarked, was the subtle style.

Had it been merely intellect, I am not sure if he would have touched as many people as he did: what I saw in him, and I suspect that many others did as well, was his generosity of spirit.  I got endless support and encouragement from him: he once suggested that I compiled, in book form, the articles I had written for the paper, and he would have it published for me.  Offers like that mean an awful lot to any budding ‘writer’, and coming from a man of his stature, my confidence crashed through the rafters!

I join his students in mourning a great teacher, and to remind them that we keep his memory alive, by keeping to his spirit: his passion for ideas, his generosity with his talents and his commitment to his society, all subtly modulated by a sense of humility and that of service. May Allah forgive him his sins


Momodou Alieu Sidi M’boge

Former senior editor at the Observer


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