The president who declines honours, titles

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
President Adama Barrow returned from hajj in Makah last year and what was received from the Office of the President was a press release, saying the president would not want to be called the title ‘Alhaji’ – without sufficient legal grounds. Now, because he is the chancellor of the University of The Gambia (UTG) and has done well in the area of human rights, the university decided to honour him; then another press release came from State House, saying the president appreciates the honour but would like to be called Mr. Adama Barrow. The Office of the President went on to thank the University of The Gambia for conferring on His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, president of the Republic of The Gambia with the Doctor of Laws and Human Rights (Honorius Causa). “While in appreciation of the honour, the office of the President informs the public that the President would like to be called Mr. Adama Barrow. The President accepts the honour and sees it as a challenge to him, his government and the people of the Gambia to maintain and keep improving on our Human Rights as a country.” But the question is where are the words: His Excellency, Mr. coming from? Because we have never received any press release saying the president would not want to be called His Excellency. Maybe we will, someday. In a university and under normal circumstances, across the globe, especially in Francophone countries, the chancellor possesses the academic qualification to be appointed to that position. To continue being the chancellor and because he has no academic qualification, the university deemed it relevant to confer an honourary Doctorate Degree on him but only to refused to be called that title, leaving the UTG with a chancellor of no academic title but His Excellency… Maybe the president will step aside as chancellor of such a university with high academic reputation. Honourary degree, we all know is different from a degree that one toiled for. President Jawara had more awards and honours than President Jammeh but those awards didn’t make him a dictator; they didn’t make him behave different from being Sir Dawda he was known for. Even though State House gave no enough justification on why the President preferred not to be called this honourary doctorate title, the president has to understand that being called by a title does not change you from who you really are. The president can be conferred or called a ‘Nasirudeen’ title but that does not make him Yahya Jammeh; he can be honoured or called Sheikh Prof. Adama Barrow, but it does not make him behave or act like Yahya Jammeh. An honour is an honour – after all, the president is honoured in recognition of his efforts in human rights and that’s why the title is name: Doctor of Laws and Human Rights (Honoris Causa). Then, if the president thinks he doesn’t deserve this honourary award, let the State House make us know about it. “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” Calvin Coolidge