The Chronicle Gambia

Hamat Bah And The Gambia’s National Security

Hamat Bah, Gambia's minister of Tourism and Culture

Furthermore, it is in the Gambia’s vital national interest to curb rising ethnic, and religious chauvinism (“tribalism”) to avert inter-ethnic, as well as inter-religious conflict. These are looming threats that must not be overlooked.” (The Gambia’s National Security Policy, 09/05/2019)

When the authorities decided to abuse Madi by detaining him and going after him with a bogus and malicious charge, they did so because they thought what he said had negative national security implications. If they had their wish, no one will talk about the death of Haruna Jatta in Kanilai because it is likely to anger some people of the region who use the name of Haruna as a rallying cry against government impunity. Never mind that the same people never ever speak of the killing of Haruna Jammeh in the hands of his brother, Yaya Jammeh! They’re either in complete denial or unthinking justifications of Yaya’s murders. To them, some lives are more valuable than others. But I digressed. This is about his esteemed Excellency, honorable Hamat NK Bah!

While the abuse of Madi’s rights is boneheaded at best and akin to shooting oneself in the foot at worst, upon closer scrutiny, one can see the fuzzy and mindless illogic behind it. There’s no denying the fact that this country is extremely polarized along tribal, regional, political, religious and class lines. Of all the fault lines on the security landscape, tribalism perhaps poses the most imminent threat to our nation at this time. If our country ever goes up in flames, tribalism will play a significant role either as an igniter or an accelerant of any ensuing violence. It is therefore critical that the authorities engage in proactive and robust outreach and education efforts to ensure that our people see Gambia as a country of one people with many differences. Sadly, the people in charge continue to tribalize politics and politicize the tribes. None more so than the one responsible for safeguarding our culture!

Tribal rhetoric, or fanning the dangerous flames of tribalism, as our esteemed and honorable minister of culture and tourism recently engaged in, must not be allowed to pass. If Madi can be detained for taking the government to task, Hamat Bah should be held accountable and made to withdraw his boneheaded comments about opposition parties and others. Sometimes, it’s not about what you say, it’s about who said it and how it’s said. The game he’s playing is far more than dangerous to the nation than what they mindlessly went after Madi for.

The position the esteemed and honorable minister occupies in the government and public space makes his rhetoric even more dangerous and goes against the ideals of the national security policy that his boss, President Barrow, proudly signed off on and made his! If Barrow believes in the national security Policy document that has his picture emblazoned on, he should hold Hamat accountable because his words go completely against the grain of our security as a nation. I’m not holding my breath though because I don’t think Barrow believes in any of these good governance mechanisms. I’ve been assured that the Government does not listen to nonentities like me because they’ve managed to somehow convince themselves that we are “enemies of progress”, but at the end of the day, they cannot say we didn’t warn them. They say “loose lips sink ships” and if people are not held accountable, their loose lips will sink our country. None more so than the lips of Hamat!


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