Kiang Jali:- A conservative community
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
In this edition of your favourite weekly ‘Towns and Villages’ corner, we concentrate on the Village of Jali in the Kiang West District of the Lower River Region. Jali is one of the oldest settlements in Kiang and like many others, it is full of history and still remembered for sending away the Medical Research Council (MRC) forfear that the ‘Tubabs’ were going to convert their children to Christianity.
Tales of the famous Alkali Nyakudi Drammeh, an alkalo who drove away Gambia’s first president, Sir DK Jawara from the village and denied him holding a political rally there are also prominent when one talks about the community of Jali.The community was also attacked by Soninke warlord Musa Molloh in his quest to establish a strong Soninke hegemony in the region.
The community of Jali is said to be some 188 years old.The name of the community, JALI sources say was derived from a Mandinka phrase ‘Kuli-Jah-Leh’, meaning a lake where people hang leather.The community acquired this name from foundation owing to the activities of the founders. According to sources, the founder of the community of Jali was a hunter and near his hunting site was a lake; it was near this lake that he always spread his hunting garments which included leather from animal skin.
Little did he know at the time that this isolated hunting site would become his home.People at the time began referring to the lake in their Mandinka parlance as ‘Kuli-Jah-Leh’ (a lake which is sued to spread leather)and when the site became a habitation for the hunter and people began enjoying the treasures of the new home, they began calling it Jali, a short form of ‘Jah-Leh’.
Sources further assert that the current Jali was not the first settlement but rather just some few meters away was where they were settled until a disaster ravaged the village that was when they were advised to shift a little bit even though few still remained at their old compounds like Numu Kunda who are said to be occupying their first settlement.
The routes of the founding of the community can be traced as far as Sunna Karantaba in the Cassamance region of Senegal. It was from this village that a hunter named Massi Samateh set out on a lone journey in the search for the treasures of life; a journey that brought him to the Kiang valley of The Gambia. Upon entrance into the Kiang Valley, Massi Samateh acquired sanctuary at Jamari from where he continued his hunting expedition.
It did not lake long before the hunter fell in love with his new hunting site, a site known by the indigenes as Masi Sita. He then made a request to his Jamari hosts to grant him the land that hosts hunting site for settlement; a request that without any reservation received the stamp of approval. Massi Samateh then began erecting the pillars for his new settlement and stayed on it alone until his brother, Janneh Drammeh whom he left Sunna Karantaba also followed his routes to locate him, a move that lead to the establish the settlement of Jali. The two brothers together triggered the expansion and development of the community.
Sources advanced that this Janneh was an Islamic scholar and when he locatde his brother Massi who by then was a Soninke both settled not far from each other. Massi’s children sources went on, enjoy when Janneh’s children when they are reciting the Holy Quran and at one point asked their father if they can also learn the songs their brothers sing. Their father did not reject the request Janneh made sure that all the children were able to learn the Quran.
Soon Massi abandoned his isolated settlement of Massi Sita to join his younger brother at Jali. by this time, Janneh already built a Mosque where he used to pray with his family. And since Massi’s children can now recite the Quran, they were converted to Islam and the first son was made imam whilst Jammeh himself maintained the alkaloship.
Aborigines and expansion
Jail today is a community composed of multiple residents and clans. Sources however say in the beginning, when Massi was coming from Sunna Karantaba, he came with his griots, the Camara and they have from foundation had their own compound in the settlement known as Jally Kunda.The Sowe who were also griots of the brother Janneh Drammeh also joined in the company of the new home at and early stage. Then came the Darboe and Daffeh who were guests of Tunkara and the expansion trend continues up to this day.
Alkalo and Imamship
Since it was Janneh Drammeh who founded the village of Jali, up till now, it is the Drammeh Kunda Kabilo that passed on the baton of Alkaloship from one generation to another based on age while the Samateh’s remained the Imams of the village for nearly two centuries in this Kiang West settlement. According to our source, the Alkalo’s lived longer in the throne than the Imams and the current Imam Mamanding Samateh is the 337th Imam of Jali while Sheriff Drammeh is the 101st Alkalo of the village.
The untold story of Musa Molloh
Jali was said to be one of the biggest settlements in The Gambia and according to our sources, it was so big that people will live in the same village until they die without knowing each other. The community lived in relative peace and tranquillity but peace has a slander body that breaks with the introduction of a powerful Soninke warlord- Musa Molloh.
Up until today, no Jalinka will tell you the story of Musa Molloh’s brutal destruction of Jali which has remained a Taboo. According to sources, Musa Molloh attacked the village when all the able men and women went to the farms far away from the village and killed and captured several people; the result of this fiasco was inter-tribal mixtures, for example Camara found in Fula and Sarahuleh. We will feature the tales behind this war in a special edition.
Baboucarr Camara contributed in compiling this report
Author: Gibairu Janneh