Given a chance, Gambian musician Jalex said weeks ago, he would ban foreign music from his country. The sentiment appears to be shared by Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, a scholar from the Gambia.
Displeased by the apparent indifference his compatriots bestow on home-grown talent, Sankanu urged a reversal. The outburst appears to have been caused by recent reports carried by media from Ghana and Nigeria, Gambia’s Anglophone West African neighbours. ‘First of all,’ Sankanu wrote in a Gambian publication, ‘various Nigerian and Ghanaian media outlets reported that the President of my country HE Alhagie Yahya AJJ Jammeh has recently allocated portions of our Gambian lands to some Nigerian and Ghanaian entertainers.’
He then expressed displeasure at President Jammeh’s gift, warning against encroaching upon ‘certain red lines’.
Continuing, he wrote that ‘The senseless wastage of our scarce resources on money-hungry foreign musicians and movie stars is scratching on those red lines. I am therefore calling on the named home video peoples not to rush in developing the land that President Jammeh reportedly allocated them.’
Although Ghanaian and Nigerian celebrities came under the most fire, Gambian citizens and Senegalese musicians caught some of Sankanu’s flak: ‘Gambians don't value their own talents. For years, they preferred patronising Senegalese and other fly-by-night musicians while expecting them to build the local music Gambian industry. ‘
It is a similar position to the one expressed by singer Jalex months ago. ‘It's a foreign-minded thing that we have about us,' Jalex said, referring to the Gambian audience. 'A man will wait on a man to bring something for him foreign, when a similar thing is available in Gambia.'
The Gambian scholar’s angst at the love and gifts Nigerian musicians receive in his country is not unfounded. Early 2015 saw Nigerian singer Wizkid perform at Gambia’s independence anniversary event. Afterwards, he posted a photo of himself and President Jammeh. ‘With the President of The Gambia!’ he wrote as caption. ‘He loved the performance he wanted me to perform twice to the people!!! They loved it!!’