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The Spotlight: The Three Bantaba Katchaalaal (Mang-Dinka)

By Yero Jallow

“The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the slave trade and slavery” (Chinua Achebe, African Author).

Cultural Identity:

In my February 2015 review of the Peul (the Fulbe) tradition as narrated by the Fulani Diva, Ina Baba Coulibaly and storyteller, Bokarr Hammadou Farina, I wrote “With the world getting to the next level of civilization and development, it is very easy to predict the loss of our valuable cultures in the near future, if a greater part has not been lost already” (Gainako Online Newspaper. Cultural Loss: What will be for successors? 02/18/2015. Web http://gainako.com/?p=7759 ).

Culture is that unique string that defines every person. People should be proud of their identities. Being proud of your identity doesn’t mean feeling any superior or exercising hostility to any other person different from you; rather it should mean celebrating how good yours is. In the spoken Pularr, it is said, “No matter how long a log stays in the water, it will never transform to a crocodile.” Being proud of your identity should be accompanied by understanding of your culture and living it, despite some of the forces that teaches otherwise. The theme, “Mang-dinka” (We are not deep) is a fitting theme to such a wide range of social life episodes, ranging from Marriage (Futuuwoo), Giving assistance (Maakoiro), greed (Hadumoo), arrogance (fangwaaroo), Nurturing (Maaraloo), upbringing (kuuluwoo), just to mention some of the acted episodes.

Bantaba Actors:

The trio as directed by Haruna Drammeh and his team are Bora Sissawo from Nyani Karantaba Tabokoto in McCarthy (acting as Alhagie Bora), Muhammad Darboe from Wulli Fadiya Kunda (acting as Alhagie Muhammad), and Alhagie Pa Jallow from Kombo Pirang Sanchaba (acting as Alhagie Pa Makang Jallow) positioned themselves well in a common bantaba style of discussion, each playing a unique elderly role, at times complementing one another, and other times, being at loggerheads to the level of criticizing one another.

Bantaba Setting:

Alhagie Pa Makang is an Islamic student who studied in Mauritania and most of his contributions are centered on Islamic teachings and tradition. Alhagie Bora on the other hand is well rooted in the tradition and once served as a security guard (Watchman) in Dakar Senegal, something he takes so much pride in, which offered him the opportunity to understand the spoken Wollof dialect. One thing you will appreciate from Alhagie Bora is his humility, self-content, being very upfront and truthful, even though he is not a “fangkaamaa” (rich person).Alhagie Muhammad is the one whose son (Lamin) lives in America which offered him an opportunity to visit America. Alhagie Muhammad takes great pride in interpreting the English language, some words he picked up from his travels, even though his interpretations are wrong, they offer the biggest laughter to listeners. Alhagie Muhammad’s usual insertion of English as sarcastic humor and positioning himself as “fankamaa” (rich person), offers the usual bluff associated with some that traveled to America.

The episodes are accompanied by a high level of eloquence in the local language and the use of proverbs makes it even better. While the use of proverbs, wisdom way of speaking, and silliness makes it “Bantaba,” the very topics addressed are unique and offer revival to our cultures. If you are looking for some revival, some laughter to accompany your day, added to lifelong lessons of our traditions, you must add these YouTube videos (episodes) to your must-see items.

Conclusion:

In the episodes which touches on many aspects of social life, succeeds in passing a cultural identity and reviving a rich lineage at the brink of coma, especially where the global world, technology, and western influence is taking over on a lot of fronts, part of the disadvantage that the African identity finds itself is the fact that the history was not documented, and succeeding generations relied solely on its passage through the traditional singers known as the griots (Jaali) and the bedtime stories from grandparents in typical Africa. Part of the bigger problem is the loss of these rich norms from bias, conflicts, and exaggerations by the custodians. Perhaps with advent of technology where it is possible to record and put some of these cultural norms online is a unique opportunity to preserve the cultures. Africans should consider establishing schools that will teach our tradition. We have come a long way and it will be wrong to keep blaming colonialism on our continued fading cultures and identity, even though it is indisputable that colonialism did a lot of damage to Africa and beyond. As the world continues to generate and develop, Africa should position itself well, to prove its talents, to preserve its cultural identity and values. Even the great Madiba (Mandela) from his own words related the use of African tradition during his activism and subsequent rise to prominence; therefore Africans must celebrate theirs in no small ways. Ours in African culture is unique and equally beautiful even though we tend to easily fall in love with what is foreign and by all life standards, nothing is wrong with that, but you must live your identity, with adjustments only for the better. The solution to Africa’s problems lies in Africans first, and then can be complemented by any other organization or people.

Picture and Video Courtesy:

You Tube (Mang-dinka. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnHtD-lGqNY
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