Message from the Heads of UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO and Education International on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2012
Oct 5, 2012, 12:02 PM
Caste system in The Gambia has indeed got its sight effects on the life of many. For example, in some rural communities people of different clans do not inter-marry.
For instance, blacksmiths do not marry cobblers.
In some areas, we learnt that even in the cemetery they have different sections for different types of clans, simply because of their social classification.
Why should people of the same faith be buried in separate cemeteries?
Coming back to the issue of marriage, it is very sad that parents refuse their sons and daughters to marry to each other because of their caste system.
But it's interesting to see such children engaged in love affairs, and sometimes bear children.
We need to do away with these kinds of harmful traditional practices. People should be allowed to marry to people of their choice, irrespective of their caste or status.
In fact, as far as we are concerned there is no provision in the Holy Quran and the Bible where it is stated that people of different clan should not inter-marry.
Therefore, it has no religious justification, and as a matter of fact we must stop it.
We call on the Supreme Islamic Council to look into this issue with view of addressing it.
One sad thing about the whole matter is that people who are engaged in such practices do give out their daughters to white people, locally know as "Tubab" but their parents never questioned about their clans.
We firmly believe that culture is very important but harmful traditional cultural practices like this are very bad and must cease to exist in society.