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Some Positive Signs Of Koriteh Courtesy Call

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Demba Ali Jawo, Former Minister Of Communications and Information Technology

By D. A. Jawo

Congratulations to the Banjul Muslim Elders for their annual Koriteh courtesy call on the President, which we have observed had now been appropriately renamed simply as Muslim Elders. It is certainly no longer just Banjul elders but it has now encompassed a cross section of the Gambian society, which is quite a positive step.
A few other positive changes to the format of the gathering include not only recognizing the presence of the Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, which had hitherto been ignored, but to also give him the chance to address the gathering. That was indeed a positive move which should have been done much earlier.

Also, rather than call on representatives of the different ethno-linguistic groups who often claimed to speak on behalf of those groups when they were actually just speaking for themselves, this year’s gathering invited the representative of the Serahule community to speak on behalf of all the other ethnic groups. However, in the process of trying to list the ethnic groups he was speaking on behalf of, he left some groups out, apparently assuming that those groups had no Muslims amongst them, which is not the case. We should definitely have long passed the era when we would distinguish people by their ethnicity rather than simply as Gambians, which unites us as a nation.

While some people are questioning the relevance of the annual gathering, considering the fact that the situation during its inception in the colonial period has undergone some drastic transformation, but with the new changes, it is beginning to look more relevant to our current reality. Therefore, let us all hope that the changes being seen in the format of the gathering this year would continue as there is still some way to go before it reaches the zenith of relevance. However, those changes can only be more positive and relevant if the organizers would be ready and willing to gender mainstream the gathering. It certainly does not make any sense in this day and age for such a gathering to compose of only men as if the women have no role to play in such an important national event. Can you imagine such a national event happening in Banjul and completely sidelining the Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe, no doubt simply because she is a woman? It is certainly time for our imams and talibes to embrace modernity rather still hang on to their patriarchal superiority.

However, as regards the speeches made by Minister Hamat Bah and President Adama Barrow, even though they contained some praise singing and self-aggrandizement, but they also contained some positive advices that would no doubt enhance national unity and cohesion. May be the only counsel we can give to President Barrow is to accept that the projects he is claiming as his own are actually financed from public funds rather than from his pocket. Therefore, it would have been much proper to refer to them as his government’s projects rather than his own. As someone elected by the people to serve their interests, humility should always be his virtue.

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