Mistaken Identity Lands Lt. Colonel Samsideen Sarr Into The Gutters!! Refocusing Samsideen Sarr

By Suntou Touray

 

Editor Pa Nderry Mbye allow me space in your respected and widely read freedom News paper. I want you to publish my rejoinder to Samsideen Sarr. The response should have been published on the pages of the online Gambia echo Newspaper but unfortunately the able and renown editor of the online paper couldn’t find the time and space to publish my rebuttals to Samsideen Sarr’s wild and gullible response to my piece. Samsideen, I believe was expecting a response from me and many of my friends and acquaintance were also expecting some form of response after Samsideen mistakenly refer to me as Dr Manneh and he also deliberately misquote my response to his piece. It is my firm believe that you Editor Pa Nderry will let Gambians read my response to the Retired Colonel who openly accused Dr Manneh and others. The truth shouldn’t be suppressed for friendship sake.” If an offense came out of the truth, better it is that the offense come than that the truth be concealed”. St. Jerome. Samsideen poke fun at the Mandingo speaking soldiers by declaring that they the ”Mandingo boys were the majority in the July 22 coup but Yahya stole it from them”. I don’t know what Samsideen mean by that statement. If he was trying to instigate a tribal uprising in the army, then he is the wrong person to be the instigator.

Another vital issue worth clarifying is Sam’s sudden expertise in the Kenya trouble. He blamed all the trouble on Tribe but a close analysis by experts on the ground explained otherwise. The core of the problem is neglect and imbalance wealth distribution by the Kibaki Government which was elected into power by the dwellers of the Nairobi slums during the time of former president Moi. It is the same disadvantage people rising up against Kibaki who failed them. We can all see the gun shots taking place mainly in slum areas.

 Further to Samsideen Sarr’s rejoinder on the topic ‘the genesis of tribalism is Gambian politics”, there is compelling reason to track the issue on sharp focus.

Mr Editor, please post this response to our brother, Samsideen Sarr’s reply to my earlier rejoinder. For Sam to take my piece as supporting tribalism is a grave error on his part needing correction. I have not and will not subscribe to promoting tribalism. The comment pertaining to problems of tribalism I made was just to highlight that NO ONE CAN ELIMINATE TRIBALISM IN TOTALITY .I advise that each and every one of us must do his/her best to be tolerant and accommodating towards others in our diverse society. Sam did his best to make me look like some ‘mandingocentric’ hell-bent on fanning tribal war. That is unjustified and intellectually dishonest on the part of Sarr.

The wider gains of this topic are for interested Gambians to debate. It is not a response and counter-response between me and Sarr. I have to give credit to Samsideen for providing ample historical side to the topic but in reality all he narrated is available in many written text and the information is widely shared among Gambians.

The warning Sam should consider is not to narrow the issue as personal attack. Sam needs to differentiate where to personalize issues and where not to. This topic is so fundamentally important that making self-promotional remarks will divert readership attention. He could have avoided his usual bigot and self-exhibition. Sam went out of his way to question my person as if the topic is about me or him. The key reason for taking part in this sensitive and important topic is not trade my person but to add the little facts and information available as way flavoring the debate.

I am not Doctor Momodou Manneh. I have never seen him or talked to him. I am not the least connected to him by family. My humble origin is of the Upper River Division URD from the district of Sandu. Doctor Momodou Manneh coming from the North Bank Division is a far stretch. The editor of this paper is informed about my person. Let’s move on from there.

Samsideen Sarr placed himself in an uncomfortable situation. It is now proven that Dr Manneh truly obtained a doctorate degree in a well known American university and the link is here for Sam to check for himself.

Gambians will be terribly disappointed in you Samsideen. You personally attacked Dr Manneh’s credibility and truthfulness. You insulted his intellectual integrity beyond all ethical conformity. You raised doubts about his competence and trustworthiness.

It is proven yet again that the comments you made against Dr Manneh with closed eyes and blocked mind are all wrong. What are you going to do Mr Sarr? I took no offence for the fact you questioned my person in me defending Dr Manneh and Dr Saho. I am not new with fellow Gambians on different online forums of debate. We each grow from different experiences. Harboring hate and malicious grievances is unhealthy. This is the link to Dr Manneh’s former university in U.S.

http://africanastudies.rutgers.edu/historyrutgers.html .The burden of proof now lies squarely in-front of your very eminent Rtd Lt. Colonel Samsideen Sarr. Those who feel Sam is right then you search the link for yourself.

This is what another Gambian by the name Kay Jatta observed about Sam’s comments. ”the author ( Sam) made what seem to me another preposterous claim that “…it was not until the PPP in their quest for independence from the British started to spreading the inaccurate political message that the Wollofs had stolen their country…and kept them under suppression for centuries…”. Could the author provide any sources for this giant claim? The author talked about “Wollof hegemony” ? Hello!

Perhaps it will be relevant for the author to understand that the PPP initially represented the rural dwellers which included all the ethnic groups of the Gambia. The author’s concept of Wollof seems to be limited to Banjul and Serekunda only.

I am afraid I will have to say that Sam’s paper, which other wise could be a good paper, is charged with animosity against Dr’s. Manneh and Saho. I do not know about Dr. Saho who is believed to have obtained his doctorate from Germany , but Dr. Manneh’s doctorate title I believe is kind of a street tile not of his own making. There used to be rumours that he bought his doctorate certificate in the U.S., but that is never substantiated. Here is a one time incident with Dr. Manneh elevated to the level of tribalism. Perhaps tribalism is in the eyes of the beholder in this case. I have heard someone narrated his encounter with Dr. Saja Taal also, then Parm. Sec. DOSE, who scornfully crawled at him (a Mandingo) ‘yen lemalen sibeh’ meaning how he hated Mandingos. Funny isn’t it? But these incidents are exceptions rather than the norm in Gambian society.

The author referenced the case of Kenyan conflict to make his point about the Gambia. Well Kenya’s case is very important and perhaps generally symptomatic of the broad African tribal dilemma, but we must not simply transpose the Kenyan question on the Gambian socio-political landscape. I have a Kenyan co-worker, a Kikuyu who is very supportive of Kibaki, but another Kenyan of my acquaintance , a Luo who is very angry about the sham election in Kenya even talk about dividing the country. That is how grave the Kenyan situation is, it breaks my heart.

Perhaps one has to understand the forces in the society in order to have some proper perspective of the nature of the conflict in that given society. All societies are divided into race, class, religion, gender, region, etc. There is actually very few homogeneous societies. These societal divisions can either act to neutralise one another or reinforce one another. Where they neutralise one another, peace is usually maintained, but if they reinforce one another then conflict usually result.

In the Gambia for example, our tribal, religious, and economic divisions tends to have neutralised one another, so that our political (and other behaviour) cut across tribe, religion, economic, and other affiliations. No particular group is completely marginalised to the point of feeling angry. This perhaps is the source of our stability. Now in Kenya, this might not be the case. If you look at Kenyan political and economic life since independence, it has arguably been dominated predominantly by the Kikuyus to the almost total exclusion of others. So what might be happening in Kenya is that the economic disparity between the different tribes is reinforcing their ethnic divide thereby creating a conflict we are witnessing today. This is different from what obtain in the Gambia. The Gambia has a tradition of political and economic inclusiveness. I hope Jammeh does not destroy that tradition”.

Thanks.

Kay Jatta and many other Gambians currently debating this topic can be access at this link.

http://www.gambia.dk/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5141&whichpage=1

Janko, another contributor on the same forum made this observation:

“The Gambia -The Genesis of Tribal Politics is a good example of a Europhonic mindset. For example, in his response to Suntu Touray the author mentioned what he would not teach his children, he wrote; “They don’t know about those crappy mumbo-jumbo stuffs like the “Domas”, “Buwaas”, “Fangbondis”, and the primitive segregations based on family trade or skill background.” The author shares the perspective of the anthropologists of the 20s and 30´s that our traditional worldview and social structure is PRIMITIVE. The difference is the anthropologists used the notion of Primitivism to strengthen and alleviate the status of their own societies over the rest of the world whiles the author uses it to harm the reputation of his own society and people.

The author threw the baby with the birth water,

i) by manifesting the very tribalism tendencies he intends to resolve

ii) by on the one hand blaming so-called ethnic indifferences on colonialism but on the other hand using it as a positive argument for lack of interest in learning to speak other languages.

Interesting is that the author’s good intention is defected by the inadequacy of knowledge about the formation of political parties. The juxtapositioning of facts makes it difficult to grasp the red thread in the article. The only distinguished characteristic in the article is the magnitude of contradiction.

Is the eradication of elementary political history intentional or unknowing?

The author made no mention of the fact that M C. Cham, M C. Jallow, Andrew Camara were all UP candidates elected under the UP banner and later cross-carpeted to PPP. That Dibba broke away from the People’s Protectorate Party (PPP) when it became the People’s Progressive Party clearly indicate a revisionist rather than a reconciliatory attitude. Dibba did not form NCP because PPP changed name.

The author claims to have grownup in a homogenous community, Serra Kunda but the picture painted in the article is the opposite, heterogeneous, a “melting pot”.

Post colonialism a term used by the author is misleading because it implies a utopia; “Africa after colonialism” but colonialism has not left Africa it rather changed form to Neo colonialism. Hence, the mindset of the political everyday is Europhonic (not Eurocentric or Afrocentric), that is to say; everyday political reality is perceived in colonial and not local languages, the instrument of governance is English/French not local languages.

I fully agree with the author’s intention of the need to discuss and debate issues pertaining to ethnic relations but this call for a mindfulness that does not strengthen ethnic stereotypes. It demands a historical understanding based on reality not wishful thinking, or revisionism.”

I ask you for the sake of peace and mutual co-existence to make an open unconditional apology to the person of Dr Momodou Manneh and Dr Lamin Saho concerning the unethical and disrespectful remarks you made against them with regards to their educational qualifications.

If you are brave enough to do that then we can count you among our brave gallant Gambian soldiers. Retired Lt Colonel Samsideen Sarr former commander of the GNA infantry division is a big rank Sam. For us to adequately believe that you obtained that rank by merit then be a brave soldier and apologise. If not the question marks surrounding your army credential will vindicate many.

This response is not meant to be as wordy and lengthy as yours Sam. I will start a sub-title called:

WE ARE BLESSED.

The Gambia is a blessed social fix and fit. People occupying that tiny strip of land enjoy harmony in diversity. Any one of us can be connected to other tribes. That is a fact. Samsideen being connected to both Serere and Wollof is good proof harmony in diversity. I am connected to Wollof. My great grand father Mbye Touray was a Fana fana speaking Touray. His eldest son Suntou Touray adopted Mandinka as a language. My mum is Fula and now I count myself Mandinka .This is not specific to me alone. Many Gambians can trace their linage into two or more tribes. That is a special blessing we must embrace and promote and not the divisive wedge you labour to drive between us.

Yes we will encounter incidences of minor tribal derogatory remarks but the bigger picture is what should be amplified and promoted. Even the likes of the late PS NJIE was connected to both Jola and Wollof. According to professor Sulayman Nyang PS NJIE’s mother is Jola and Father Wollof just like Samsideen Sarr’s father is Serere and mum Wollof. Let the Gambia and Gambians look at the great blessing. To mess up with that for the sake of point scoring will lead us into disharmony.

Gambia’s ethnic harmony is further promoted by our diverse artists especially in the music arena. Some of our best known of Wollof musicians have composed and made good songs in Mandingo language to the appreciation a joyful audience. Musa Ngum, Lie Ngum (Abdel Kabirr), Ousou Lion Njie, and many other Wollof musicians served as good examples. Many kora musicians have also play tunes with songs in Wollof .Jaliba Kuyateh a mandinka kora musician composed a song in wollof in honour of prominent wollof lawyer and business tycoon Amadou Samba. What is less ethnic harmony than that? So many good teachers speak Wollof, Fula, Mandingo and other Gambian language. In every Wollof household Domoda (a Mandinka dish made of groundnut butter) is a regular part of the weekly menu. “Benechin” (Wollof fried rice) is part of Gambian national food choice. Such is the value of our national assets in appreciating the vast ethnic harmony Mr Sarr.

You are better off to delineate yourself from this issue. You are Sam Sarr. When you pick up national issues it is most ethical in the basic principles of writings that you differentiate fairly what belongs to the issue. Your personal experience is not a national issue. Extending the issue to your parents and children falls outside the call of this topic.

Individual problems must be dealt with individually. The originator of this topic lambasted Dr Manneh due to a private personal encounter and the citing of some few instances of unpleasant tribal comments .If indeed that was true then Sam should have sorted the matter there and then. It will be very unhealthy to drag that private encounter into a national debate after more than 20 years. The settlement of Banjul alone is a great scenario for us to emulate. Even in Banjul there are other minor ethnic people that have nearly faded away. Some Malian communities of the early days are culturally non-existent. Most of them either adopted Wollof or Aku as a tribe and language group. If they are happy with it so be it.

Sam, do not try to assume the topic you authored. That is a dangerous way of writing. One can associate with your piece but don’t make the piece about you and you alone. I pray that the Almighty God forgive the soul of the late Dr Lamin Saho. Long live peace harmony and tolerance in the Gambia and Africa.

Our unity and harmony can even be envied by the Belgium’s who are currently disputing over whether to divide there country or not. This is due to language problems. We are not in that situation.

The author can be reach by email:

Editors note: The views of the author do not reflect the position of the Freedom Newspaper INC. This paper would not be held liable for the author’s views. His views do not reflect or influence the position of the Freedom Newspaper.

Lt. Colonel Samdeen Sarr would be accorded free pages here at Freedom to defend himself, if he deems it imperative. Ours is to empower our readership by allowing them to freely expressed their views without undue censorship. We are mindful about the rights of others including Sam Sarr and that is why we threw an invitation to Colonel Sam to respond to Touray’s arguments.

We edited the word “lied” in your piece Mr. Touray. Lets express our views in a clear and matured manner without using derogatory language. We hope you understand where we are driving at.

As a point of clarification, this is not the first time that Colonel Sarr has been second guessing the identities of his critics. He one time mistaken Lamarana Jallow an opinion writer as Chongan’s former bodyguard. Lama’s ID was a major concern to him. He went on a sea of speculation about who Lamarana Jallow was.

For unexplained reasons, Sam later snubbed the Freedom Newspaper. He migrated to the Gainako Newspaper, where he tried to settle old scores with Freedom.

As soon as other critics started picking on him at Gainako, he ceased writing for that paper. Like he did to Freedom, Sam also promises to grant interview to Gainako, only to cancel the interview for unexplained reasons. We respect his decision.

People expressing their opinions here at Freedom should not expect to have their views to go unchallenged. We owe no obligation to Sam Sarr or any interest group. We believe in equal treatment. As long as opinion expressed by our readers are well fine tuned, free of libel or slander we would be more than glad to accommodate such opinion pieces. Thanks for your attention.

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