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 In Defense of the Narr Community and Kerr Fatou
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Posted - 26 May 2024 :  23:19:11  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In Defense of the Narr Community and Kerr Fatou
By Madi Jobarteh

Having closely listened to the President’s comments referencing the Narr people, I find it utterly unbecoming as it is derogatory and discriminatory. Part of the Gambian population belong to the Narr community hence no community should be used as a punch bag against real or perceived opponents.

There are many comments that ordinary people make about tribes, gender, disability, religion or age which are utterly offensive, discriminatory, violent, and divisive. Because of a poor human rights culture these unsavory comments are most of the time let off and even encouraged sometimes.

Yes, we also have joking relationships between tribes, surnames and regions. Between such people and regions who share those joking relationships, they do utter unsavory comments to and about each other which would otherwise be offensive and discriminatory. But such comments do pass off as normal because of that cultural relationship.

But the President, by his tribe, surname or region has no joking relationship with the Narr community. Hence the President cannot utter mocking comments about the Narr people just to get to his opponents. As a matter of fact the President should not just speak of any surname, tribe or region dismissively. The presidency is a position that must be alert to the rights and laws of this country and therefore avoid any words and actions that potentially ridicule and discriminate any tribe, religion, name, or region.

Hence referencing the Narr in his comments cannot just be brushed aside as a common or mere saying by anyone. The President must therefore withdraw his comments and apologize to the Narr community and to all Gambians. He must commit himself to his oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Section 33(3) of the Constitution states that, “Subject to the provisions of subsection (5), no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.”

The President is a public officer hence his words and actions should not carry any element of discrimination against any Gambian. The comments about ‘Bitiki Narr’ and that a “Narr will come to occupy that place” is unconstitutional, discrimintory, and derogatory. Those comments are not favorable and respectful of the Narr people rather the reference to that community was being used with malice to attack others.

Furthermore, the role of the media in the Constitution is to hold the State accountable on behalf of the people. Therefore Section 207(3) has empowered Kerr Fatou and indeed all media houses and journalists to report, expose, scrutinize and analyze the words and actions of members of the State to hold them accountable.

This is what the section states,
“The press and other information media shall at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of The Gambia.”

In this regard, the story by Kerr Fatou about the President’s remarks about the Narr community is perfectly within their constitutional obligation as journalists. They should not be attacked, ridiculed or threatened in anyway by anyone more so the Minister of Information Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, for their reportage.

For that matter I call on both the Gambia Press Union and the National Human Rights Commission to hold both the President and the Minister of Information accountable for their unconstitutional actions which directly threaten the rights and dignity of citizens as well as threaten freedom of the media.

Minister Ceesay must be told that it is not Kerr Fatou’s job to put words in the mouth of the President rather their job is to report the words uttered by the President himself willingly and consciously. Thus if the Minister wishes to have a certain kind of interpretation and reportage of what the President says then let him guide the President to say the right words.

In 2022, the President singled me out in his official statement that I wished to burn down the country. Such unconstitutional and incendiary comments cannot and must not be tolerated from anyone more so by the President who has vowed to uphold and defend the Constitution.

I stand with the Narr community and Kerr Fatou. I urge all citizens, political parties, CSOs including GPU and NHRC and the National Assembly to demand the President to withdraw his discriminatory comments and henceforth refrain from such. Similarly I call on all stakeholders to put it to Dr. Ismaila Ceesay to protect the freedom of the press and not to threaten them.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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