On the Clash of the Two Princes and Sir Dawda’s Machiavellian Tactics: Letter to my Nephew

Mamos Media

Bobling Bobb,

I greet you this morning after the celebration of the 57th African Liberation Day, pregnant with the hope of a better future for our troubled continent.

Indeed I observed this year’s Africa Day in unprecedented fashion with high levels of doses of Pan African music from Mariam Makebba, Bob Marley and Jaliba Kuyateh. I was to later pen a stinker of a letter addressed to the EU Ambassador to The Gambia for his obnoxious condescending attitude to our country thanks to the fecklessness of our current Foreign Minister and his rudderless boss.

My good nephew, you can imagine my mindset then, this early morning, sauntering on the glistening beaches of Kololi around Swiss Tavern Restaurant and Kololi Beach Resort. Truly the future beacons with some alluring vistas; yet for us to confidently step into this promising territory, we must carefully and honestly examine the past and establish some clear lessons so that we may not repeat the errors of our forebears.

Was he wrong when the bard of Jamaica sang in his classic track Buffalo Soldier:

If you know your history

Then you would know where you coming from

Then you wouldn’t have to ask me

Who the heck do I think I am.

Has the legendary Bob Marley not left us with golden nuggets of wisdom? To our own history then, Bobling, we must revert for authentic wisdom, as opposed to some dry theories of Western Political thought that have no bearing on the realities of our complex sociopolitical and ethnographic makeup.

Young man, you are thriving quite well (maa shaa Allah) in your captivating narratives about the exploits of the great sons of Salikenni in Gambian politics. But Salikenni was not an island in the scheme of things and therefore I entreat you to explore beyond the shores of Lambai-Moribolong and probe further into the nexus between Badibu and Niamina (Kudang). Beneath that axis lies hieroglyphics of the epic clash of the two princes with the same name and similar royal lineages.

Truly the smattering of knowledge I have so far gleaned about the relationship between the late Sheriff Mustapha Dibba of Salikenni and the late Sheriff Saikouba Ceesay of Kudang, dangles some promising melodrama. Of course you are very young but you must have  known that both sheriffs had fathers who were prominent chiefs and close allies during the colonial era.

Now, ipso facto, both princes had the privilege of attending the prestigious Armitage High School. They became friends and while Sheriff Ceesay went into government service after finishing school, Sheriff Dibba worked for a private multinational company.

Their paths were to reconnect in the leadership of the PPP under the stewardship of our founding President, the late Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Both Sheriffs held powerful positions in the then ruling party that was led by the gentleman from Niani Barajally famously called ‘No-faulta’ by some devoted admirer.

What was to happen later between the two Sheriffs is the stuff of legend; and please do not expect me to give you the details of how the relationship between the two princes turned sour leading to the  splintering of the PPP, with the emergence of the NCP and APP.

Bobling Bobb, the two Sheriffs clashed and their boss at the time was Sir Dawda. Did he have a hand in the feud of the two Princes? Was this the foreshadowing of the later clash of another pair of Princes (one more princely than the other) but both being regal figures in their own rights? 

These are the questions your research mission must answer as I attempt to promote you into the second grade of this institution I have enrolled you in called “Sabally La Karabtaa” (SLK).

Surely it is not going to be an easy ride for you but if you truly imbibe and live the core principles in the allied, but more mundane, school, Sabally Leadership Academy (SLA), then you would grow up to thank me one day Inshaa Allah.

In the mean time, I shall leave you to deal with the suspense created in the foregoing narrative. Truly the Kora maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh, is right ‘bay long yeh diyaa kumoe yeh; bay foe mang diyaa yeh. Suwo  koo ta seenoe la, ali nga n-laa. Koo saa baa wuloo’.

Young man, I will not attempt to fully translate the foregoing Mandinka proverb since my better  brain, the erudite Jainaba Teeda Sarr has already given you a lecture on the concept of “lost in translation”; but your knowledge of Mandingka is deep enough for you to know that what I just said above broadly translates into “you should not say everything that you know.”

Have a great week my good nephew and may Allah protect you from the envious eyes and hearts that may be ogling you these days.


M. Sabally

The Gambia’s Pen

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