DUMPED IN BRIKAMA BA: THE BLOODY STRANGER’S SHUTTLE INTO CASAMANCE AND THE GAMBIAN PROVINCES
By Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, currently in The Gambia
Apologies to all the readers for the hidden typos; my eyes are tired and I am finding it somehow tough to adjust from German to English PC keyboard arrangements. We have a Sarahulleh or general local saying that a traveler knows his departure date but cannot say when he will be back to base.
I wanted to fly back to Europe on Friday November 23rd 2012 either from Banjul or Dakar to attend a very important meeting from November 24th to the 25th in Germany and to prepare for another movie shoot this December. I could have made it had I found myself in any other corner of the European Union with advanced transportation system but I am still finding it difficult to adjust to the Gambian/African way. The last-minute declaration of Friday Nov 23rd as public holiday and the fact that I found myself in Sotuma Sere village some 360 kilometers from the nearest airport in a country with meager public transportation resources meant missing the meetings. I also wanted to go to Basse to work on some financial matters but the banks were closed. I got reprieve when I realized that I was not the only bank-relying human being in The Gambia who got stranded that day due to circumstances beyond our making.
Prior to that, I moved forward my planned family visit into the Southern Senegalese region of Casamance following the death of a prominent relative in Ziguinchor. The Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) or four-wheeler I wanted to use got no ECOWAS Brown Card and I was told it could be seized in Senegal. My Brother President Jammeh is yet to allocate me a donkey that I can use to move around within the Sene-Gambia basin. Due to the current animal health emergency, perhaps? Hahaha!
Anyway, I decided to travel like the common man as I have been doing since landing in The Gambia so as to feel the real pulse of the society and understand the country from the perspectives of the man on the street. I converted some Dalasis into CFA currency for use in Senegal and gave one of my countless cousins the money to get us seats in the commercial van from Bundung to Seleti. We took out seats and drove smoothly with no traffic slow down. All of a sudden we reached a place and the driver told us to alight. I asked my cousin for the reason and he said we reached the Giboro immigration border post. I said wow, The Gambia is really small. The immigration guys recognized my face and names so the stamping and registration of my passport were mere formalities.
We proceeded to Seleti to join a Senegalese vehicle to Ziguinchor. The Senegalese official who was checking documents took my German passport and read out my names “Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu” while registering them. He said he was told “Sankanu” is Sarahulleh and very rare. I told him yes I am a rare breed of African Nobility. He asked for my profession and I said filmmaker. He wrote it down and gave me back my passport while wishing me safe journey with memorable stay in Senegal. I did not bother to ask the officer how he was told about my surname before my arrival at the border post as I was just having my destination in my head.
Casamance is indeed a very beautiful and blessed country but the infrastructure is neglected and investment is virtually absent for reasons best known to the Senegalese decision makers. The journey was smooth and the checkpoints were normal. The only irritating part was from a lousy Gambian co-passenger who was loudly bragging about his business trips to China and other places and saying things that no one cared to know, at least not me. I just wanted to silently enjoy the beautiful landscape. When we reached a very sensitive Senegalese security check point, the armed soldiers asked for identification documents. I then took out my German passport. The soldiers looked and returned it to me with respect. The lousy guy changed his face and started lowering his tone. All the Senegalese security officials at the checkpoints between Seleti and Ziguinchor treated me like a prince, intellectual and diplomat. Mr. lousy could not bear it and tried several times to drag me into a chat but I would not say much. At one point he said “you have European Union and Federal Republic of Germany on your passport. You will be respected.” When he saw the letter from the Office of the President of the Republic of The Gambia in my folder, I could read the following message from his body language: “I should not mess up with this guy!”
EXTENDED HOOK-UP LIST
We arrived in Ziguinchor on time and took a taxi straight into the main family compound in the Boucot area. The place was filled with mourners from across Sene-Gambia. I was led into every apartment to greet every one. I was later taken into my uncle’s compound he provocatively named “Villa Khomeini” to spend the night. He started building that house during the Iranian revolution and to mark the event he name it after that spiritual leader. Life in the villa is liberal and progressive as my uncle is also a well-travelled old bad boy. I spent the day with the boys eating good quality food, drinking attaya and talking business, women and politics. Gambians shy away from open political discussions but in Senegal they debate everything. My uncle turned out to be a die-hard supporter of President Yahya AJJ Jammeh. Though he lamented on the executions of prison inmates, he defended President Jammeh when he joined the political section of the debates. I acted as the bloody stranger saying almost nothing.
Later in the evening it was time to flirt with the beautiful daughters in the compound. It seemed as if all the beautiful spinsters of the Senegal side of our clan made a deal to lodge in the villa during the mourning period for our departed relative. It was like a Casanova’s paradise. I took turns in having one-on-one chats with the girls with the help of my uncle’s second eldest daughter. She asked what I would do when all the girls agree to marry me. I could not give a straight answer. She claimed that I am a lady’s man, handsome, gallant, stubborn, intelligent, liberal, smart, modest and conscious.
The next day she was proven right as none of the girls who slept over the exchanges rejected the idea of becoming my princess. My uncle later asked whether I made a choice. I told him I needed time as I cannot commit myself based on the beauty and sexiness of the daughters only. Characters come first. There are other candidates in Gambia, Europe, Nigeria, Angola, Spain, France and USA.
Later one of the girls called to say that they were in the girls’ quarters of villa and I was the item of their agenda. I told her to save her phone credits. When I return to Germany, I will call her then she can report in exhaustive details.
DUMPED IN BRIKAMA BA
From Ziguinchor, I decided to visit my home village of Sotuma Sere in Jimara District of the Upper River Region (URR). We boarded the vehicle from Ziguinchor to Senoba. The good experience at the checkpoints was similar to the one from Seleti onwards. There were no lousy co-passengers this time. Some of the seats were empty as we paid the driver for those seats just for us to be in Gambia on time without waiting till all the seats were filled by other travelers.
At the Senoba immigration post, Senegalese officer checked the documents and took my passport into the stations. All the other passengers followed him but I remained in the van. My relatives were worried but I said nothing would happen. Minutes later the immigration officers came back and respectfully gave me my passport with a border post stamp on it.
The Gambian immigration officers in Soma also recognized me just like their Giboro colleagues. I later told myself I cannot really hide in this world. I prayed to be saved from criminal enterprises and other illegal activities that could ruin my noble personality.
While waiting for a vehicle to Soma. I got a call from a Gambian in Italy who was trying to defend his anti-Jammeh thesis. I told him I am not in The Gambia for politics. Since landing in the country I found myself in weird position of judge or referee. The anti-Jammeh folks have been trying to sell me their arguments that they are right while the pro-Jammeh people insist they are on the right path already. Others have been calling me names but I care the shit about it. They can enjoy their freedom of expression while I enjoy my freedoms of creativity and productivity. The most important thing is that the responsible people who deal with me will never judge me according the malicious slurs being spread against me here and there. I am somebody otherwise people will not be insulting and wishing me bad.
Back to the trip, we found a commercial vehicle to Basse and paid the fares in full though I was to alight at Sotuma Sere, 8 kilometers before Basse. Once we reached Brikama Ba, the driver dumped us saying that he was going back to Soma. He gave no reason. He checked his engine, fuel level and tire pressure in our presence in Soma before departure so the vehicle was not the problem. My fellow passengers forced him to return part of the fares covering Brikama Ba to Basse. It was a very crazy experience indeed.
Abandoned and helpless, we moved around like stray goats. I felt like drinking water and went into a shop. There was no small change as all the Dalasis with me were in larger denominations. I even gave the shopkeeper some Euros to change but he said he does not understand foreign currency. The last smaller Dalasis I had were used to buy water for the other stranded passengers to drink first and I was the only one left. Realizing my willingness to pay but helplessness in getting the right amount of change, he gave me the water for free and I thanked him.
Time was going but we were on our own. We left Ziguinchor at 7 am in the morning. It was 2 pm and we were nowhere near our destinations. The remaining passengers took it in good faith. I felt pity for a young lactating mother who was also dumped like us. She tried calming her crying baby that could not cope. To cheer her up and help make the situation somehow bearable for her and her child, I decided to flirt with her a bit. She felt good and I saw the energy and satisfaction beaming on her face.
Another shopkeeper who could not bear the injustice done to us took the initiative of complaining to the “chef de garage” on our behalf. Within minutes, a smaller van was arranged to take us to Bansang. At Bansang we were lucky to get a vehicle ready for Basse. I arrived at my destination of Sotuma Sere around 8 pm with terrible headache. The journey was supposed to take 4 to 5 hours but it lasted last 14 hours. To add insult to injury, the following working day was declared a public holiday, messing up my plans! Don’t laugh!
GOOD HIGHWAYS BUT NO EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
The death of the Gambia Public Transport Corporation (GPTC) is having devastating effects on the mobility and productivity of the average Gambians who cannot afford the SUVs and jeeps. I hope the Gambia Government will not waste time in creating a new efficient public transportation system with emphasis on both road and river transport. The planned Senegambia Bridge should not affect the navigability of standard river vessels from Banjul to Basse or Fatoto.
With the exception of the Soma-Kalagi and Basse-Fatoto segments, the Trans-Gambian Highway on the South Bank is in a very excellent state and I hope the maintenance culture will not be neglected. The Soma-Basse section is very beautiful though the names of many settlements were wrongly written on the sign posts. For instance, the correct names of my village are “Sotuma Sere” but the contractors wrote “Sotuma Sire” and ignored the villagers’ repeated plea for correction. Next time I will either correct it or replace it with my own sign with the right spellings. Hope by then the bureaucrats in charge of our roads will correct it.
The Foni section of the Trans-Gambian Highway, though not fancy like the Soma-Basse one, is so far the best road I have seen in The Gambia. Even the highways in the Greater Banjul Areas cannot match it. The thickness and quality of bitumen/tar used are first class. I really enjoyed the road. Yes the anti-Jammeh people would say Arfang Yahya favoured his Foni region over the rest of the country. I did not experience any restriction in the usage of this superior highway. For me even if my Brother President Jammeh builds a national highway through his bedroom, I will have no problems with it as long as the usage will not be restricted to the general travelling public. Gambians and non-Gambians with peaceful intentions are free to use the Foni sections of the highway just like all the other roads of the country. It is our national highway even if it is located in the Fonis.
Just like with the Senegalese checkpoints, I did not experience problems with the Gambian ones. There were no unnecessary delays or extortions. I witnessed clear-cut division of roles. The police, immigration, NDLEA and the army performed their duties according to their respective mandates with discipline. The numbers of checkpoints are fine by me as they are serving additional functions of delivering security services to the doorsteps of the Gambian communities. In case of the need for state security intervention, the affected communities can rush to the nearest checkpoint rather travel all the way to the big towns with police stations. Some rural folks narrated examples of how they approached the checkpoints in times of need. For this smart idea, I say thumbs up to my Brother President Jammeh and the Ministries of the Interior and Defense.
Though all the security personnel did their jobs well, I was very much impressed by the young gallant solder at the Kudang Army Barracks checkpoint. The sun was dead hot but the young man was serving his country with pride and dignity. He stopped our commercial vehicle and checked it well before giving us the green light to proceed. I was so impressed that I thanked him by tapping my chest and bowing my head with a smile. He reciprocated and thanked me. The non-verbal exchanges of mutual gratitude, smiles and respect were reinvigorating. The young soldier could not leave my mind. I started telling myself in case of rebel attacks, sabotage or bloodbath, this young man and his frontline brigade will be among the first people to be killed or wounded while working on our security. I thought of the devastating impact on his family. Oh, my compassionate heart cannot see harm done to even a fly.
RENDEZ-VOUS WITH GAMBIAN RURAL POLITICS
I was selected by my village of Sotuma Sere to join its delegation to a meeting inside the compound of the District Chief of Jimara, Alhagie Hagie Kule Camara, in Numuyel. He is a distant uncle. Before departing my brother called and connect us on the phone. He said was pleased to see me in country and requested to meet me. I told him was on my way to the meeting in his place.
Before the meeting, we had a one-to-one session inside his apartment. We used to exchange greetings when I was in Germany. I explained the purpose of my visit to The Gambia. He also talked about Sotuma Sere and the land my people reportedly allocated to President Jammeh in a very prime location. He said President Jammeh told him that he, Jammeh, wants to also support young and productive Sarahullehs so as to give his government a truly participatory Gambian national profile/character and make all ethnic groups feel genuinely represented.
I repeated what I told him when I was in Germany: that I have nothing personal against President Jammeh and I like him as a person. The fact that I endorse him means I am morally “part” of his Jammeh System already but my biggest fear is humiliation. I was raised with noble Sarahulleh principle of KANLEM PASU YAGUYA - death is better than shame. The jealousy, hypocrisy, infighting and unhealthy competition within the inner circles of power could waste my productivity, intellect and youthful exuberance. I am an intellectual and a voice for reason. I belong to the thinking and creative class. My brain cells are available for progressive and reasonable national development but I will not go in for anything that will bring shame to my noble names and family. He made the usual assurances of support politicians everywhere like giving to shooting stars even though they hardly keep their words. He requested a copy of the letter the Office of The President gave me as kind of ID card. Since the nearest photocopy machine was some 10 kilometers away in Basse, I decided to give him the original one. My family was later worried that I gave him the letter just like that. For more on this see my Facebook page update.
As the sitting URR Governor Omar Khan, Jimara NAM (National Assembly Member) Habiboulie Jawo, the head of the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) and other officials arrived, we assembled under a mango tree inside the chief’s compound. My name was already added into the invitee/delegation lists long before my arrival. I quickly notified the Office of The President through the Cabinet Secretary on my attendance of the meeting just to save myself from hypocrites and liars. I passively participated in the meeting as an observer and refused to drop a word. Both the chief and the Governor fall under the direct purview of the President of the Republic and I would not know what they or their advisers could tell him about me.
At zuhr and lunch time, I found myself in the same room with Governor Khan, Jimara NAM Jawo, NALA boss Dahaba and other dignitaries. The moment I introduced myself, Omar Khan said my that post-election article “Sellu Bah and The APRC’s Basse losers must just shut up and go milk the cows” finished Sellu Bah off. Another person said article is still impacting URR politics. NAM Habiboulie Jawo who was visibly relieved in seeing me in person started asking me about the urgent problems of Sotuma Sere in the areas of portable water distribution, electricity and health centre and the land dispute with Hella Kunda village. I told the gathering that I plan to build a school there so the Governor and everyone should take note. NAM Jawo and I decided to fix an appointment in Basse to talk the village problems in peace.
IN DEFENCE OF MY MARGINALIZED SOTUMA SERE VILLAGE
The strategic position of Sotuma Sere makes it a subject of takeover attempts by some people from Gambissara, Numuyel, Demba Kunda and other bigger Sarahulleh settlements. Many a times, they tried to grab our lands but failed. Even my namesake the grand marabout of Gambissara eyed our good family “galleh” orchard several times with enticement offers but we respectfully turned him off. Those who are closer to the Jammeh inner circles used their failed land grabbing attempts to badmouth the villagers who got no one to fight for them. The sound bites of some few lousy folks were used to label the entire Sotuma Sere village as anti-Jammeh. When some APRC members of the village volunteered to attend the last Presidential meet-the-people tour or event in Gambissara, it was misrepresented that the villagers came to apologize and beg President Jammeh. One of the guys who went to that meeting was in tears while narrating how some of the Gambissara people who reportedly hijacked Jammeh’s ears abused their goodwill mission for their personal political egos.
The villagers are men and women of honour. They reportedly gave president Jammeh a first class piece of land but are worried that some of the Jammeh emissaries and APRC stalwarts from Gambissara, Numuyel, Basse, the Kombos and elsewhere could slice part of the land and add it to their names or their third party agents. In other words, using the Jammeh land offer as cover to secretly steal Sotuma Sere land and fulfill their long standing dream of taking over the village for its enviable position between River Gambia and the Trans-Gambia Highway. For now, no one knows how much land will be going to President Jammeh. The Jimara chief promised to show me the documents but failed to show up for our agreed appointment and did not call to excuse himself. I told the villagers those well-connected folks will be playing with fire if they steal even an additional inch of our land and then lie that it belongs to President Jammeh.
The land offer apart, the villagers voted overwhelmingly for President Jammeh in the last presidential election of 2011 thanks partly to my own endorsement of President Jammeh. Now they are they are waiting for the APRC to deliver on its part of the deal. I repeated the villagers core concerns to Jimara NAM Habiboulie Jawo when we met in Basse. Concerns such as: possible abuse of the villagers generous land allocation to President Jammeh by people acting on Jammeh’s behalf; the land dispute with Hella Kunda that could backfire on the government when allowed to drag on; the need to upgrade the heath centre with resident nurses, medicine and ambulance as mothers have to travel with their sick children all the way to Gambissara and Demba Kunda, some 6 and 9 kilometers away on bumpy roads that add to their illnesses; the borehole and piped wire system and, power supply. Since the village was deliberately removed from the rural electrification programme, it should be included into the beneficiary lists for renewable and alternative energy programmes.
On the land dispute with Hella Kunda, NAM Habiboulie Jawo said that said it falls under the Jimara District chief. I told him the villagers said they are tired of reminding the chief. For all the other matters, I told him to do his job as NAM and increase the advocacy work. No one is expecting the government to do everything but I know what the government can and cannot do. The modest needs and concerns of the villagers can be addressed within 6 months when the political will is there.
He, NAM Jawo, then admitted that Sotuma Sere has indeed been marginalized and misrepresented. He suggested that the APRC should organize a big rally there or the village should be included in the itinerary list of one of the next Presidential meet-the-people tours so that the villagers can directly say what they could not say since July 22nd 1994 as the appearance of some of them in Gambissara was misused by some egocentric hawks. I told him that I have no problem with that and if I am invited on time I will try my best to attend both the rally and tour but he should do all his best in addressing the injustices being meted out on my proud and indomitable noble village.
TIT-FOR-TAT: WHY I REFUSED TO SET FOOT IN GAMBISSARA THIS TIME
The Sarahullehs in Senegal are more advanced that Gambian Sarahullehs in that the Senegalese ones have liberated themselves from backward practices while embracing modern Enlightenment without compromising the useful Sarahulleh heritages. The Gambian ones especially those from Gambissara and other bigger villages still promote the obsolete Soninko versus non-Soninko divisiveness; a leftover of the chaotic migration pattern into the Gambian basin following the collapse of the last pre-colonial Sarahulleh states in the 19th Century. Some of them who shamelessly segregate themselves as “Soninko” behave as if they are of better stock than even Adam and Eve when in reality that are the most backward of all the Sarahullehs on the African continent and in the Diaspora. It is their fanatic addictions to stagnant thinking that brings the entire Sarahulleh civilization into disrepute.
President Jammeh’s ears are apparently hijacked by people promoting this 19th Century mentality while presenting a fake picture of harmonious and monolithic Sarahulleh communities in Jimara, URR and the Kombos.
With all their mechanical practice of Islam and supposed understanding of the Islamic faith they are not willing to live by the following Quranic verses, something Sarahullehs in Senegalese, Mali and the two Guineas have long integrated into their culture just as with the Enlightenment and anti-discrimination: "O Mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who has most Taqwa among of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware." Noble Qur'an (Surat Al-Hujarat 49:13)
Some people asked why I did not go to Gambissara to meet my namesake the grand marabout and others. May be in one of my subsequent trips I will fly by or honour their invitation for the sake of communal peace. But for this trip I am paying back for the humiliation done to my mother and for the bluffs thrown at me when I was in Germany. It is payback time. Tit-for-tat. I am neither their bag carrier nor a “jangalemeh” bastard who would just step out of the aircraft and rush to lick their crumbs off the ground.
Sometime in 2009 or 2010 my mother insisted that I should be talking to the grand marabout as my namesake and distant grandfather. She gave me his number. To satisfy her I called him and he asked “toxora”, Sarahulleh for namesake, “you are keeping quite in Germany, are you into something serious?” I answered in the affirmative and explained my achievements. We exchanged grandfather-grandson jokes and prayers. When I prepared my project briefs to start making films in the Gambia and set up a school, my mother gave me a list of elders to call and inform. Among them, my namesake, the grand marabout of Gambissara. She went to the man to tell him about my plans to come to The Gambia. The man’s answer was a diplomatic insult and humiliation. I told my mum that I saw it coming. One day I decided to call the man as my mother recommended again. The person who picked the phone told him, “it was your toxora from Sotuma Sere who is Germany.” He knows the priceless reason why my later father named me after him. So even if he goes terminally senile, he will recognize me but he was behaving as if he never knew me. When I told him I will be coming to the Gambia he was giving me discouraging answers just to scare me so that I can cancel my Gambian projects as if the country belongs to them only. He turned off the telephone on me. I called his lines several times to no avail. I can tell the difference between poor networks and deliberate swift-off. I later told my mother the redline is crossed and she should never again push me into talking to people, relatives and non-relatives alike, who do not want to see other people’s sons and daughters shine.
I then told myself: look at these ungrateful people. When that infamous Gambissara mosque crisis was suffocating them, the grand marabout and his entourage invited and requested me to write reports in their favour for the local newspapers and the foreign media like the Voice of America and the BBC so that the international community and the Jammeh government could be on their side. I still remember one of marabut’s daughters and wives, names withheld for now until they make me angry, telling me that the man would fortify me and do this and that for me when I wrote the biased reports. They forgot that mraboutism is part of my heritage too. Both my late immediate paternal and maternal grandfathers were respected practicing Sufi marabouts and I was trained in the basics of the trade before Western education dominated my study time.
My family intervened and stopped them saying I was too young to be misused for their religious politics. They wanted me to also help them get connected to President Jammeh so he could help them with funds for their madrassah in Gambissara. This was in 1996.
Now that they succeed in getting Jammeh attentions till they earn the sobriquets of “Jammeh fathers, sisters and sons in Jimara”, they have grown feathers. When the cat is away the mice will play. I was not around to show them their limits. Most of our people are illiterates with no understanding of the modern nation-states. They are being exploited by the folks who like misusing Yahya Jammeh’s names to cover their own abuse of power and privileges in the rural communities.
I was impressed when some of my distant aunties who live in Gambissara came running to visit me. They said they heard people talking about me on the streets of Gambissara as they were passing-by. Once they heard them mention the names of my father; they wasted no time to come to Sotuma Sere to see me.
My younger brother and I banned our mother from visiting Gambissara except in cases of emergency. Our mother is very active in nurturing the common “maaremaxu”, “sumpu” and “xawancha” bonds that existed between our various Sarahulleh clans and communities long before migration into The Gambia basin. Of late some of those arrogant advocates of the un-Islamic Soninko contra non-Soninko ideology are abusing our useful traditions. If you just greet them, they will thin, you come to beg or ask for political favours. They politicized everything and those who bend politics, business and maraboutism in their own favours are “behaving as if they own President Yahya Jammeh and the APRC government” to quote an angry young man from Gambissara.
I have seen many angry Muhammad Magassys, independent Basse NAM, in the Sarahulleh communities. President Jammeh and the APRC should make a choice. If they want to continue to allow themselves to be exploited, fooled and deceived by advocates of backward ideologies who just want to preserve their borrowed social statues, they should be ready for more Muhammad Magassys. If at all those people are as influential in the Sarahulleh communities nationwide as they claim, they would have stopped Magassy. Jammeh and the APRC also have the option of entering into a new deal with a new generation of progressive Sarahullehs who put the interest of the nation and humanity first free of negative discrimination and arrogance.
As I said before, respect is no one-way traffic. You cannot expect us the youths to respect elders who are allow politics and money to corrode their dignity and compromise their traditional roles in society. If you also insist on forcing us the young people of the 21st Century to obey elders who believe in 19th Century ideologies, you will be inviting social trouble. I for one will continue to give all human beings, elders and youngster alike, the respect they deserve but I will not mystify people just for instant gratifications.
One of the biggest handicaps of our Sarahulleh communities, despite the blessing with fabulous “nafulo” wealth, is the chronic deficit of in-house vanguard intellectuals to galvanize progressive changes. This makes them vulnerable to abuse by uneducated promoters of the outdated Soninko versus non-Soninko discrimination.
I was vindicated when a prominent Sarahulleh historian in Demba Kunda dropped a message that what I said about my noble heritage during that GRTS Fatou Show is the indelible truth. He said the “Sankanus” are part of the Sarahulleh nobility centuries before migration into The Gambia and diversification of their customary skills base to cope wsith the challenges of the long migratory routes.
THE IMPROMPTU PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
As stated above, I planned to be in Germany by November 23rd latest to attend a very important meeting on November 24-25th. I need to also prepare for a movie role for December.
I arrived at Sotuma Sere from Ziguinchor on Thursday November 22nd very late after the traumatic experience in Brikama Ba in the hands of greedy drivers. Though I came home with crippling headache, I started planning for Friday November 23rd but before I could yawn some pains off my head, the radio announced that Friday was declared a public holiday. I nearly exploded. Later I received a call from Germany that since I will not be there on time to feature in a movie I was casted for this December, the producers will look for another person. What an opportunity cost for my patriotic working visit! The saying that time is money has once again proven itself. Once more I lost a very good income generating opportunity with great money while trying to start something in my home country of the Gambia. I am just grateful that I that I did not sign anything before travelling otherwise I could be sued for breach of contract. For sure these personal sacrifices are nothing in the eyes of the detractors and haters praying to see me in trouble in the hands of the Jammeh System.
I have nothing against public holidays but the impromptu declarations do mess up with peoples’ hardworking plans. It would be better when the public is notified of impending public holidays at least day, week or month in advance so that people can well for them. Gambia as a developing country cannot afford the luxury of too many public holidays as it affects the overall national productivity.
My Dear Brother President Jammeh, common sense has it that you can boost my morale for the cascading damages done to both my Gambian and German engagements by the impromptu declarations of Friday November 23rd as public holiday. Kindly direct your staff to swiftly arrange the adequate princely sum as morale booster. They can give me a call to come and collect it so that my time will not be wasted at the State House gate just like the other day when I was called to collect the letter from the Secretary General without delay and exaggerated security checks on me. Thank you very much in advance for your brotherly humanist considerations and smart decision on this very important matter.
Your Excellency, it appears that the requested audience with you will not be feasible this time. Once I achieve some of the outstanding targets regarding my film project, I will quickly fly back to Germany to start work on the next phase of the project. Time is flying and Gambians/Africans are yet to develop the sense of respect for time, performance and seriousness.
Before I forget Mr. President, people have started scandalizing my name that you game me an undisclosed sum of money for my film project and I am keeping mute over it. The Ancestors bears me witness that I am yet to receive a Butut from you or your Government. I am not a hypocrite and I have nothing to hide. When the German authorities chipped Euros into our Cologne African Film Festival, we publicized it. Should I get a Cent from you Mr. President or your agent for my film project, I will do the same in line with international standards provided there would not be a non-disclosure agreement. For now am yet to see a Cent or such agreement. Please I need your Presidential Support to clear this ambiguity and save my name once and for all before it poisons my noble intentions for our Gambian motherland.
This is the last normal report on my working visit in The Gambia. I left out a lot of interesting stuff due to time pressure. Possibly in due course I will write about them.
Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu
Currently in The Gambia