Member of Parliament Alhagie S. Darboe had very strong words condemning tribalism and warning UDP members to stir away from it, calling his party “a peace-loving” party.
Darboe’s reaction came after a WhatsApp audio inciting tribal politics and genocide that apparently emerged from a man called Bakary Trawally in his Brikama North constituency, went viral on social media.
“With this new found democracy, freedom of speech is guaranteed but must not be abused in the name of democracy and rule of law to heal the wounds from former regime,” Darboe said.
“Thus any utterance or action by anyone who may be UDP or none UDP against this principle of this great party is not in anyway the position of the party and therefore is unacceptable.”
Trawally, who has not been questioned by the authorities yet called for the Mandinka tribe to carry out a systematic genocide against other tribes by burning their homes and villages, and killing them and presidential candidates in the country’s next presidential election.
Political activist Sigga Jagne said it reminds her of Rwanda, where the media was used to incite Hutus against the Tutsi leading to the killing of some 500,000 to a million people in just three months.
The Gambia is mainland Africa’s smallest country with a population of fewer than two million people. The country united against its former autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh after he threatened genocide against the Mandinka tribe and declared the country an Islamic republic, marginalizing the Christians.
“There is nothing wrong with loving and being proud of who you are, your heritage and where you are from. Actually, that should be promoted. When done in a healthy way, it helps strengthens self-esteem and identity,” said Jagne.
“But when you use your difference from others to incite violence against them simply because they are different from you, that is not only wrong, it is dangerous for even those you claim to represent and stand for.
MP Alhagie S. Darboe said he was very troubled by what he heard in the audio saying: “We have passed that stage. Whoever may have that agenda, it will not work and you will be exposed and your intention will certainly be defeated.”
Many are still reeling from the aftermath of Jammeh’s brutal rule. For many other Gambians, the few testimonies heard just after Jammeh’s ouster are a terrifying jolt of reality, depicting a repression they did not recognize they lived in.
Many are overwhelmed by a desire to act, yet paralyzed by what exactly they should do and Jammeh’s rise and fall from grace is a reminder that tribal politics exist but shunned by Gambians.