Gambia: Retired Village Head’s Brother and Son Fighting over Authority

By Gambian Correspondent – A crisis of alkaloship is rocking Sifoe village, Kombo South as both a younger brother and a son to the retired village headman claim to be the legitimate successors. Controversy in the village erupted following the retirement of former Sifoe village headman, Malanding Demba, who has been in authority for over fifty-seven years.

Amadou Demba

Amadou Demba

His son, Amadou Demba and younger brother, Ba Jerreh Demba are both claiming to be the alkali of the village. “I got my appointment letter from the Office of the President,” says Ba Jerreh Demba, the younger brother to the retired alkalo. “I never lobbied for the position, but I am an elder in the village and the Demba Kunda clan and therefore I am entitled to become an alkalo.”

Ba Jerreh Demba said, he is not quarrelling with anybody over the issue. On the other hand, Amadou Demba, the retired alkalo’s son, said his appointment is genuine because he has been assisting his father for the past ten years in all his transactions.

Mr Demba made available to The Daily News a copy of the recommendation letter from his father. “Presently, I am old and would like you to allow my son Amadou Demba who have been very much close to me and does most of my correspondence and also very much assistance in collecting rates and taxes … to continue with all the village transactions as I am no longer active,” the old man said in a letter addressed to the governor of West Coast region.

Amadou said, the governor of West Coast region has supported his father’s recommendation. He produced another letter said to be from the Governor to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Lands which states: “The office of the Governor is in full support and would be pleased if Mr Amadou Demba is appointed [alkalo] to take up from his father, based on the fact that Amadou is the closest person to the alkalo and does all the paper works on his behalf.”

Amadou revealed that a letter from West Coast region’s Governor’s office dated April 4, 2011 confirmed that the Minister has approved his appointment replace his father. However, Demba who also provided The Daily News with a copy of his termination letter said to be from the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Lands.

“I write to convey executive directives for the termination of your appointment as Alkalo of Sifoe Village in the Kombo South District with effect from April 28th 2011,” the said letter states. “You are therefore required to hand-over the reigns of power, authority, responsibility along with the Official Stamp to the in-coming Alkalo, Mr Ba Jerreh Demba of the village.”

However, Amadou Demba is arguing there are differences between his termination letter and the appointment letter of Ba-Jerreh Demba. He said his termination letter has an official letterhead, but Ba-Jerreh’s appointment letter does not have any.