By Bakary Ceesay
In a meeting with President Adama Barrow on Friday a visiting delegation of traditional chiefs from Guinea Bissau urged Gambians to jealously guard and strongly cherished the prevailing peace and stability in the country.
Coming from a country with a long history of civil war and intermittent political violence, the Bissau-Guinean traditional rulers advised their Gambian brothers and sisters to show more love, and pursue dialogue when in disagreement, stating that war and violence could only bring destruction and social stagnation.
The Chiefs paid a courtesy call on the president at the State House as part of an exchange visit initiated by the Gambian Embassy in Bissau to strengthen the historic cultural ties between the two countries.
President Barrow told the delegates that present-day The Gambia and Guinea Bissau represent what was formerly Gabu, and Fulladu, empires prior to the demarcation of colonial boundaries. The people are, therefore, the same with shared cultures, traditions, and values of peace, unity, and brotherhood.
“The Chiefs have always been the custodians of peace and tradition in this culture. Hence I urge you to be steadfast in your advocacy work to ensure that our people continue to live in peace and harmony at all times,” he told them.
The Minister of Local Government and Lands, Hon Musa Drammeh said the presence of the Chiefs at the Presidency is a testimony of the importance the government attaches to the institution of Chieftaincy in The Gambia. He added that the government is pursuing a deliberate policy of restoring the prestige that Chiefs in the country used to enjoy before the former regime reduced them to political stooges.
“Not only do we have regular salary attached to the officeholders, but government has also doubled their income and created a standard salary for security and batch messengers working for their offices across the country,” he said.
Honourable Hamat Bah, minister of Tourism and culture praised the Chiefs for being the custodians of cultures of Gabu and Fulladu kingdoms to date, urging that his Ministry will make efforts to send representation to the biggest cultural festivals hosted in Gabu while allowing such representation from them to Gambian festivals too.
Meanwhile, President Barrow told them to work together to fulfill the dreams of the founding fathers of Africa for peace and development in Africa.
The Gambian Ambassador to Bissau, H.E Alieu K. Jammeh, and his Bissau-Guinean counterpart in Banjul, H.E Mailo Cassama led the delegation to the State House in Banjul.