November 20, 2019
By Frederick V. Kanneh
Fullah Tribal Head for the Western Area, Alhaji Mohamed Sarjor Jalloh, has called on the fully community especially the youth to imbibe the culture of ‘unity in diversity’ and unit for the betterment of the tribe and Sierra Leone at large.
He was addressing a gathering of compatriots at the Miatta Conference Centre on Saturday during the first ever Fullah Cultural Festival organised by the Western Area Young Fullah Youth Association (WAYFYA).
He said unity among Fullah youth was what he anticipated and that it was because of that WAFYA was able to organize such a successful cultural festival.
He called on them to totally shelve political grievances in a bid to promoting the Fullah culture, adding that everyone’s political view should be respected even if the said view is not in favour of the majority.
“We can only promote our Fullah culture effectively if we try to respect our different political views. You cannot frown at anyone for their political views or because you are in favour of party blue, so the said person should support the same political party. If we forget about politics we would be able to practice and promote our culture,” he said.
WAYFYA hds themed the celebration ‘My culture, my identity.
President of WAFYA, Mohamed Wurie Bah, said the association was founded in 2013, with the aim of introducing cultural identity among Fullah youth in the Western Area, adding that unity among the Fullah youth and support to Fullah students were also among other key reasons for the establishment of the organization.
Speaking on the significance of the first Fullah cultural festival in Sierra Leone, president Bah informed the gathering that, the festival was mainly geared towards reviving the Fullah culture in Sierra Leone, which was why they themed it ‘my culture my identity.
He added that special activities like the crowning ceremony of the Fullah chief and the Fullah pattern of marriage were among the activities captured in the festival that would educate participants.
“We have deliberately catered for different activities in this festival that would serve as a way of displaying the beauty of the Fullah culture and to a larger extent, teach other participants to know the way Fullahs do things. We hope to be holding this festival in subsequent years with God being our helper,” he said in the fullah language.
In his keynote address on cultural revival and tolerance, Senior Lecturer at both Fourah Bay College and College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Professor Alhaji Njai started off by quoting Marcus Gavey who says that ‘people without knowledge of their past histories are like trees without roots.’
He said culture is very important because even the thought process of human beings start with thinking in their native languages.
He continued that in a recent past, it was not that easy for one to be identified as a Fullah in Sierra Leone, stating that in the 1970s a significant number of them were forcefully driven from Kono District.
He said in 1982, Fullahs were harassed in Freetown and asked to leave Sierra Leone just because there was a dispute between President Siaka Stevens and Bailor Barrie, adding that those periods were really trying times for the Fullah ethnic group in Sierra Leone.
“The history of Fullahs in Sierra Leone is not favourable. For instance, there is this popular misconception that Fullahs can only excel in the educational field because they use charm, and that they are only limited to cattle rearing and businesses. But people forgot that the Fullahs played significant roles even in gaining independent for Sierra Leone and that the first prime minister of this country was a Fullah,” he said.
He continued that the historical challenge of being a Fullah in Sierra Leone is rooted from the misconception from the people that Fullahs were homogeneous, adding that Fullahs are heterogeneous ethnicity that exists throughout Africa.
He concluded by stating that there were four major characteristics that every Fullah has as a cultural heritage which he referred to as patience, respect, wisdom and courage, optimizing that it was but important that such festival was held by the WAFYA and that it would serve as a medium for other ethnic groups to know about the Fullah culture properly.