‘Garawol alkalo never banished Tambedou’

Aug 19, 2020, 11:58 AM | Article By: Momodou Jawo & Yusupha Jobe

Almameh Jabbi, a native of Garawol village in the Kantora District of the Upper River region has strongly denied reports that the village alkalo had asked one Musa Tambedou to leave the village, saying such reports are “malicious” and intended to tarnish the image of the village and its alkalo.

Tambedou was allegedly banished by village after he was alleged to have separately led a prayer during Tobaski against the norms of the village.

On Monday, The Gambia’s Human Rights Commission called on the government to address caste systems that have been grappling the country for some time and equally investigate the said matter in Garawol.

“These are unfounded allegations with the intent to tarnish the reputation of the village. The village’s alkalo never asked Tambedou to leave the village. He (Tambedou) was fined for leading prayers during the Tobaski separately and also refusing to answer to the summons of the alkalo. However, let me make it clear that his fine had nothing to do with the so-called caste system.”

“Since Garawol village was established to date, there had never been any two separate prayers; either Koriteh or Tobaski. The entire village prayed at one praying ground,” Mr. Jabbi said.

Officials of Soninkara Dambeh Association, an association comprising Gambian Sarahullehs who walked into The Point’s office yesterday denied reports suggesting that Mr. Tambedou was a ‘gambana’, a Sarahulleh term for slave and thus he should leave the village.

The village alkalo, according to Mr. Jabbi, had on several occasions warned Tambedou to desist from leading separate prayers during feasts. “In fact, during the past ‘koriteh’ prayers, Tambedou led separate prayers and he was advised to desist from such. Surprisingly, he also decided to lead prayers during the ‘tobaski’.”

After leading tobaski prayers separately, he added, the village alkalo summoned him. “He refused to answer to the alkalo’s call despite a delegation being sent to him by the alkalo. Therefore, as a result of his refusal to answer to the alkalo’s summon plus leading a separate prayers, he was fined to pay D20, 000. Again, his fine had nothing to do with caste issues.”

He added: “Tambedou later went to Fatoto Police Station and reported the matter, but he failed to explain to the police how the matter occurred. He told the police that the people of Garawol asked him to leave the village after he led a separate tobaski prayer.”

Almameh Jabbi further claimed that Tambedou also later went and reported the matter to the Police Commissioner in Basse.

“We were both invited to Basse and the service chiefs in the region asked us to maintain peace in the village. However, we equally made it clear that Tambedou was never banished.”

Sulayman Hydara, president of Soninkara Dambeh Association, equally denied reports that Tambedou was asked to leave the village. According to him, such reports are false and are intended to bring misunderstands within the Sarahulleh communities.

“In fact, there’s no slave and noble issues within the Sarahulleh communities. However, we have a culture and tradition which need to be respected but this is not about the caste system. But there are certain people within our societies who bent on insulting our elders and such will not be accepted.”

“We want the government to mediate and resolve such kinds of issues or else we will do something about it. We are equally urging the police to always act accordingly especially in mediating between two parties.”      

Muhammed Sanneh Gumaneh said: “There are no slave issues within our areas but there are people who are out to destroy our culture and tradition which is unacceptable. In fact, some on daily basis are out and insulting our elders and we can’t tolerate it anymore.”