By Mustapha Jallow
Ansumana Yabou civic education officer at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), has on 29th November, advised residents of Basse Manneh-Kunda to stop calling their elected Presidents ‘mansa’ which means king in Mandinka.
He made this statement during his institution’s ongoing engagement with citizens on constitutionalism, democracy and peace-building at the Upper River Region (URR).
“Citizens shouldn’t call their President ‘mansa’ because the word ‘mansa’ is a precolonial term. This was when people fought among themselves and governed others forcefully in a manner that was not in their interest. So, they called those people ‘mansa’, he explained.
He continued, “But now that we are in a democratic state or in a governance system that allows people to elect their leaders, to vote for people to serve them; so those voted into office are not ‘mansa’ but leaders or Presidents.’’
Yabou informed those present at the meeting that calling their elected President ‘mansa’ would give him/her extra powers that are not within his mandate. He added that the power of an elected President is enshrined in a constitution.
“The constitution doesn’t recognise them as ‘mansa’ or king. Let us not try to build-up a kingship in the country. We are trying to build a Presidency because when you say presidency, that is where you have a leader. If citizens continue calling their elected leaders ‘mansa,’ it would bring something that is detrimental to their interest,’’ he said.
According to him, citizens need to understand that the country belongs to them and not to any President, National Assembly Member or Local Authority.
The NCCE civic educator further explained that their mission was meant to enlighten Gambians on the principle of their constitution. He added that their mission also includes educating people to defend and respect the laws of the country.
Yabou sensitised that, “peace-building is the process of dealing with causes of conflicts in the first place and supporting societies to manage their difference and disagreements without restoring to violence.’’
He added for peace to prevail in society, people must unite, have tolerance and respect for each.
He further advised citizens to continue enjoying the peace and harmony that exist in their communities and avoid things that would bring division among themselves.
Ansumana Ceesay, civic education officer at NCCE said their sensitization campaign targeted 120 communities across the country.
He added, “We want citizens to understand that democracy means value and tolerance among Gambians because democracy has been a household song, but most people do not know what it means.’’