Hamat Bah: “Our very EXISTENCE depends on voting for Adama Barrow”!
Having properly apologised for the ‘DIRIMO’ (rat) comment at the beginning of the interview, Hon. Hamat Bah makes the comment about “our very safety and existence” depending on “voting for Adama Barrow” at 12mins 50secs into the interview. This actually minimises the apology, because Hon. Hamat Bah is saying that the Fulas “very safety and existence” will be threatened under a Darboe/UDP government! Of course that is utter nonsense because the Fulanis “existence and safety” will not be in danger under any government in The Gambia!
Hon. Bah has become famous for getting carried away with his loquaciousness and this is always bound to get him into trouble. But I think his comments should be seen as being just that: verbosity. And politicking for Barrow’s and Hamat Bah’s re-election in 2021. I think in typical Gambian style peace will reign – and Hamat Bah is as I write probably sitting somewhere sharing Attaya with his ‘dirimo’ friends. By the way, I also recall Madi Jobarteh once writing a piece asking the Deputy Leader of the UDP, a lady, to withdraw a “Mandinkas should vote UDP” statement she made at a rally. And of course The Gambia’s Broken-Pen, Momodou Sabally, who once went on GRTS and read statements threatening the Mandinkas is now … a prominent member of the UDP! I put it all down to the Gambian “Insult Culture” sometimes going terribly wrong!
Hamat’s Fula Discrimination Argument
If I recall properly there have been prominent Fulas in Jawara’s, Jammeh’s and Darboe’s governments – so I never actually thought there was much discrimination there. The issue of the Immigration Department and Gambian ID has been mentioned very often in the last few years where it has been said that “those who look foreign” have been asked to provide further documentation. I think Hamat may have a point about “Fula profiling”, but as the Fatunetwork Reporter Lamin Njie said Hamat’s own government should address the issue. Which brings me to …
Dida Halake’s “Guinea-Man” Profiling!
I think it was around 1995 when an ex-Minister and I strolled out of Hassan B. Jallow’s chambers in Banjul. As we walked along, an NiA guy stopped the ex-Minister and said: “Who is the Guinea-Man”!
I loved it! Being a Pan-African from East Africa I was delighted to be mistaken for a Guinea-Man. Some ten years later, an elder Basse-Fula grand-pa looked at me and his grand-daughter and said: “Saffie and her husband look alike”. Once I got the translation, I had a big smile on my face.
Profiled in Kenya!
It was 1976 and I wanted a Kenyan passport to go and study in UK. So I received eight formsto complete from the Kenya Passport Office. Other Kenyans have to fill only seven forms. The eighth form? That one is for “those tribes who are not indigenous to Kenya”! I had connections and got my passport – but then at university wrote an essay called “What is Kenya” to show that there was no such thing as ‘Kenya’ before independence (I would also argue that there was no such thing as The Gambia until 1965 – when the African Union Charter guaranteed the boundaries of the nation).
Does “profiling” threaten “our very existence”?
I would argue not – unless one lives in the USA where trigger-happy police kill black men willy-nilly. Some form of “profiling” is inevitable and it happens everywhere – even here in UK. But where it affects civil rights there has to be recourse to the Ombudsman and even easy access to court. For example, in the examples Hamat Bah mentions, of someone who has had Gambian ID for 20 years and is denied renewal, MPs and the Ombudsman should have the problem sorted without too much difficulty.
When I went back to Kenya some 20 years later, I was picked up from Kenyatta Airport by Kenya’s Foreign Minister Dr. Bonaya Adi Godana, a fellow-tribesman and UK friend while he was doing his PhD here. The point is this: inspite of the profiling, there are many many fellow-tribesmen and women in prominent positions in Kenya’ government. The feeling is that the country belongs to all of us – and I am sure The Gambia’s Fulas feel the same too. Afterall, President Barrow is part-Fula!
Here is Hamat Bah’s interview, courtesy of Fatunetwork: