Batabut Kantora - Home of the Korings
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Today we will be focusing on the tales of a relatively small community in the Foni Bintang Karanai District of West Coast Region. The community is located some 50 kilometers west of Banjul. Though its name has not been read much in the country’s history pages, it is a community that has survived the test of time and up till today gradually expanding; and from foundation to date, the community is also in firm grip with agriculture. This community is none other than Batabut Kantora. Please read on to explore the thrilling history of this community.
Our attempt to uncover what is in the meaning of the names of the community was unsuccessful. The good old guys who witnessed the rise and rise of the community, who would have been in better position to give firsthand account of the historical details of the community are no more. The successive generation(s) don’t bother much about their legacy. As such, we could not ascertain the meaning of the first name of the community-Batabut and where it originates from. Sources however asserted that during those days, their existed many Batabuts’ and when the village was founded, it was obvious that the funders wasted no time in joining the lines of this name. It is however possible that the name Batabut originated from the Jola language and symbolises a name or expresses an action.
Legend has it that the suffix Kantora is derived from the Mandinga phrase ‘Ka-nan-tora’, which can be literally translated to mean, do not disturb me. And it came to be adopted as a name for the community after one of the elders wanted to move the settlement to a site widely believed to be possessed by evil spirits. Sources say after the Sanyang family began enjoying the new home, Tumani Sanyang, one of the elders of the kinship noted that an old man told him in a night dream that his people have slightly missed their home and it is only when the settlement is relocated that it can flourish. However, a close scrutiny of the roots of the founders of the settlement also suggest that the name Kantora has links to the ancient Kaabu region of Kantora, which today partly falls within the perimeters of Wuli District of The Gambia.
According to sources, the
settlement of Batabut Kantora owes its establishment to the Bujiran Kailandang
clan. This Bujiran family was the Sanyangs who are believed to have hailed from
a royal linage. It can also stand true that the Sanyangs owe their ancestry to
the Korings of the ancient Kingdome of Kaabu. Sources noted that this Bujiran
family hailed from the Wuli area of The Gambia and migrated eastwards in search
of the treasures of life.
On it was bestowed the traditional regalia of authority though agriculture was one of their major preoccupations. We could however not trace where and when this Sanyangs were kings but sources affirm that during the early days of migration, the Bujiran Kailandang (Sanyang) kinship left Wuli area preferably from the ancient Kantora region in search for the treasures of life. The journey brought them to temporally settle in Kwinella and Manduar, all settlements in Kiang before finally finding their destiny in what is today called Batabut Kantora. The actual dates of this migration and subsequent establishment of Batabut could not be confirmed but our sources revealed that it predates British invasion (Colonialism) of The Gambia.
During that era, a centralised authority did not govern the land of the Foni and as such the Sanyangs had no king to turn to earn approval for the occupation of the land. By virtue of the fact that the site that today hosts the settlement was bare and virgin, the Sanyang saw it as a perfect home, thus Batabut Kantora was born.
Aborigines and expansion
As we earlier stated, Batabut Kantora was founded by the Bujiran (Sanyang) kinship, which it is believed migrated from the Wuli end of president day Gambia. At the beginning the settlement consisted of only one ‘Kabilo’, which was the Bujiran Kailandang. However, as the migrants transformed the virgin forest into an environment conducive for human habitation, people began migrating from left, right and centre to come and join the founders in enjoying the treasures of a new home. Today, the community of Batabut Kantora consists of three ‘kabilos’ notably founding Bujiran, Daelo and Auraan; and the community is still expanding.
Until today, the community of Batabut Kantora is still in firm grip with the old good traditional authority. Being the founders, the seat of the alkalo unquestionably remain in the house of the Sanyangs. From generation to generation, the Sanyangs transferred authority to each other based on age.
Just like any other indigenous community, the settlement of Batabut Kantora did not do without the practice of indigenous culture and tradition. According to our sources, the community operationalised the African philosophy that puts emphases on age; elders were given due respect by the youngsters and this gesture was reciprocated. Other traditional practices such as wrestling and circumcision were also observed. Places like Anyamudi and Womali were identified as significant ritual sites for the community.
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Author: Gibairu Janneh