Kembujeh - Bastion of African tradition
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
In today’s edition of ‘towns and villages’, we bring to the limelight tales behind the establishment of a village situated on the outskirts of Brikama. The utilization of the land that today hosts the village for different traditional purposes appears to date ages into history but tales behind its establishment as a human settlement are relatively new.
This community is none other than the traditional village of Kembujeh. The village is today situated in the Kombo Central Political District, West Coast Region. The village is yet to come of age but has proven itself to be among the fast expanding communities. Please read on for thrilling historical revelations about the village.
It served as a fortress against combat, shrine for kings and a centre of ritual for queens and princesses most of whom were from the Brikama royal kinship; the land was also the scene of heavy fighting during on of Foday Kombo Sillah’s onslaught against British invaders.
We could not ascertain the origin of the name Kembujeh and what it denotes but sources assert that the name had been in use even before the land was transformed into a human settlement. Not much was also uncovered about the secret behind the land during the era it served as a cradle for African rituals.
According to sources, during that time in history, the land that would later host the community of Kembujeh was in the possession of Brikama Suma Kunda family, who had on it a store for the farm produce and part was also controlled by sam Brikama Mansaring Suu.
The area today known as Makasutu was in the possession of Brikama Sanneh Kunda and it served both as a farmland and a cradle of rituals. Legend has it that the area was during that historical epoch under the custody of spirits who often predicted the rise and fall of kings.
The transformation of the land of Kembujeh into human settlement owes credit to Sanjally Bojang the last tyrannical chief of Brikama. According to sources, Sanjally Bojang founded the community in 1959 after he received authority from his brothers to utilize the land for farming.
He was said to have named the settlement Misira but this name quickly disappeared as people kept on using the traditional name-Kembujeh. Prior to this development however, people were believed to be sparsely settled on the land but had not exerted any significant influence on the land to warrant them being accredited founders of the community.
Sources revealed that the establishment of the settlement began when Sanjally Bojang was awarded the traditional regalia of a chief. He quickly established himself as a powerful ruler and exerted great influence on the land. At a point in time, he became ambitious to become a farmer and needed a vast area of land for this purpose.
Sources say the first land identified by Chief Bojang was called Jalanbang but he was informed by one Pa Haruna Sanneh that the land Jalanbang belongs to Mansaring Suu and not Suma Kunda, as such he Sanjally could occupy that land. He was then advised to move eastwards as that land belonged to Suma K unda. After due consultation with his bothers Sanjally Bojng’s request was granted and Kembujeh was born as a farmland of Chief Bojang
Aborigines and expansion
The establishment of the community of Kembujeh is relatively new; as such it is certain that the community gained its growth at a time that tradition had given way to imperial culture and the demarcation of the country into outlying districts by the imperialists and curtailing of the powers of traditional authority were already in place.
As we indicated early, the community of Kembujeh was established by Brikama Chief Sanjally Bojang after he was granted the land by his brothers to utilise it as a farmland. Sources say during that time, Chief Bojang had people who helped to cultivate his land and they served as the first settlers of the new settlement. There are also reports that prior to the establishment of the settlement by Sanjally Bojang , people were sparsely settled on the land though at that time the land was virtually a forest.
It can be stated that the settlement of Kembujeh since the very beginning of foundation had a relative number of people. As the settlement began to grow and the proximity of the settlement to the River Gambia, which makes it a fertile ground for agricultural activities, people began migrating from left, right and centre to join the founders in the company of the new home. Today, though relatively small, the community of Kembujeh still maintains its culture of agriculture and the arrival of modern infrastructural development at the gate of the community makes indigenes remain comfortable with what the community is offering.
Just like many traditional African communal settings, the community of Kembujeh still puts emphasis on the traditional philosophy of lineage. Succession to the throne of alikalo remains entirely the affair of the founders and they passed the traditional regalia to each other based on age. Suffice it to say, the alkaloship of the community of Kembujeh is in the hands of the Bojangs. This is because as tradition demands, they are the founders and as such reserve the right to physically and spiritually supervise the affairs of the community.
However sources noted during the early days of settlement, founder Sanjally Bojang who doubled as the chief of Brikama had no time to occupy the seat of alikalo. As such, he delegated this job to his closest confidants until his own sons came of age.
It is obvious that no traditional African society exists without a traditional ideology which revolves around belief in sprits, deities and the like. The community of Kembujeh even before foundation was also premised on traditional African practices. The community according to sources was a bastion of African tradition as it hosts the execution of African rituals by the traditional kings particularly from the Brikama royal leakage.
Names such as Nyani Berre, Kulunbata Manpata, Bareng Baa and Makasutu stood as prominent ritual sites in the community. Sources noted that Nyani Berre was used by women for laundering cloths performing sacred rituals. Makasutu was said to be under the custody of Brikama Sanneh Kunda and it also served a dual purpose of farming and shrine.
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Author: Gibairu Janneh