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Nollywood actors try to steal the history of our Gambian film industry
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Nollywood actors try to steal the history of our Gambian film industry

Ejike Asiegbu insulted us the Gambian film experts by creating the impression that we only knew about film-making “some 8 years ago” when his fellow scavenger Francis Duru organized a workshop with some people. It was actually an audition and not professional film training in Gambia. This raw lie is an insult to the legacies of the late EBRIMA SAGNIA and his fellow pioneers of the GAMBIA FILM UNIT who were making Gambian films since the 1960, decades before Francis Duru was born. I hope Francis Duru will be honest for a minute by publicly distancing himself from this crass misrepresentation of the history of our Gambian film sectors. This is what scavengers do. They will snatch away your meagre resources, support impunity against you, deny your dignity and try to re-write your history with their nasty propaganda. Lamin K. Janneh, one of the current leading Gambian filmmakers discovered Ejike Asiegbu’s lies and has this to say:

This is funny. I laughed totally after reading all two points (of Ejike Asiegbu). My brothers the Gambian film industry does not need actors from Ghana or Nigeria even from USA to train them for a better movie industry. It is not actors who train people professionally. If politicians do not know that, we do. Actors and actresses are not trainers. If the president or government advisers want to help build a better (Gambian) film industry, they should consult our (Gambian) experts for better advice.

Even John Rambo of Hollywood, USA, will not be the right person to train Gambians to produce good and quality movies while there are hundreds of professionals out there to serve as lecturers. If you guys intend to work with the president politically that's up to you but we are filmmakers. I write on these issues because of movies and not politics. I will stand for the truth because we both know Nigerian actors are not trainers.

We have worked with Nigerian actors in a Gambian film. They acted well and also helped in marketing the movie. But the claim that you as actors came to Gambia to train us the professionally-trained and educated film producers, directors, editors writers, camera operators, just to name few, can only be from an ignorant person who knows nothing about film production.

You (Ejike Asiegbu) mentioned Nigerian collaboration in Gambia in 2007. Well am sure you don't get the full information about that because that was not training. It was an auditioning that was to also be a reality show in Nigeria part which I was contracted to edit. Far before any Nigerian actor in Gambia, serious film trainings were held in the Gambia. My point is our profession cannot be manipulated politically. We are fully capable of telling the difference… (Lamin K. Janneh, posted on facebook.com/princebubacarrs, 25.10.2015).

The Gambia National Commission of the United Nations Educational,  Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA), United Nations Funds for Population Activities (UNFA) and a host of others entities have been training Gambians on audio visual skills development since the 1980s and 1990s long before Francis Duru and his fellow hustlers came to the Gambia in 2007. Certainly Mr. Francis Duru did not train me in 1996 when I had my first practical training on film and television production in Gambia before moving to Germany and Scotland for higher education and advanced professional cinema work.

Mr. Asiegbu is not being fair to us. The Nigerian film industry was built by Nigerians and not other Africans or Westerners. Why should we Gambians not take the lead in building our CINEKAMBIYA film industry and must wait for mediocre folks from Nollywood and Gollywood with all those accidental video makers? I am planning to make a film on the Boko Haram terror. If current Nigerian President Muhammed Buhari or any other patriotic Nigerian investor/sponsor gives me money for it, I am sure Ejike and his fellow parrots will be all over the place throwing aspersions at me. They will ignore the truth that the Boko Haram problem has been destroying Nigeria and Africa since 2002 when the group was founded by Muhammed Yusuf and 13 years on, not a single Nigerian filmmaker has so far mustered the courage to make a serious counter-narrative film on the terror boys and their bloody campaigns of perdition. Accepting the cowardice within his Nollywood circles will of course be last thing Asiegbu will do.

Mr. Asiegbu claimed that collaborations between Nollywood and Gambia “began as far back as 2007, a move encouraged by President Jammeh.” We are now approaching 2016 and Mr. Asiegbu failed to give measurable details of the mutual benefits of the fake collaborations in question. What have the collaborations brought the Gambia? Why is Gambia still not a normal film-making nation with all the “almighty” presidential backings and lousy inputs from Nollywood? Where are the capacities they have been building in Gambia? The fact that Asiegbu cannot vividly name even one shows the futility in his hypocritical attempt to discredit me. 

In this age of digital technologies with affordable video cameras, any person can shoot something and call it film. This does not mean that the person understands how a film industry operates. It is just like with the pervasive religious industry. Across Nigeria and Africa we see people competing in going to churches and mosques but have zero understanding of the true values of spirituality and religion. We have more noise-makers than filmmakers coming out of Nollywood and Gollywood trying to dictate to us how we should develop our film industries. Let them go and learn how to make relevant films first. China is flooding the global markets with cheap goods but that is not reducing the value of say, high quality “Made in Germany” products. So watching Nigerian and Ghanaian DVDs everywhere does not mean seeing quality African films everywhere. Mr. Asiegbu and his fellow gangsters are shamelessly hiding behind the cover of collaboration to line their pockets as paid promoters of dictatorships across Africa. Doing parasitic propaganda to entrench dictatorships against your fellow Africans does not mean collaborating to build our Gambian CINEKAMBIYA film industry.


Copying everything American is also a religion to Ejike Asiegbu and many brainwashed Africans who are suffering from low self-esteem.  It is therefore not surprising that he wants to compare himself to the American stars with the claims that “over 200 Hollywood stars campaigned for American President Barrack Osama in his two elections.” So what? That means you and over 200 Nollywood and Gollywood wannabe stars will campaign for President Jammeh in the 2016 Gambian presidential elections as appreciation for the Gambian land-grabbing and failed capacity building since 2007? You over-rated hustlers could not convince Nigerians to vote for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election of Nigeria and now you want to play kingmakers abroad. Your only luck in Gambia is that the Yahya Jammeh you are promoting is not Obama. You are however too greedy to see the draconian laws of the Gambia and the hurdles set by Jammeh to prevent fair participation in elections. For instance, ask Jammeh why is he afraid of respecting the rights of us Gambians in the Diaspora to participate in national elections when even countries like Guinea Bissau enfranchise their citizens abroad?

You dishonest desperadoes failed to see that Hollywood stars also challenge impunity. Michael Moore challenged former U.S. President George W Bush over the Iraq war like a real man. The latest apology of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair vindicates Michael More and the countless American filmmakers who spoke truth to power. George Clooney and other film stars campaigned for Barack Obama but they are not going about bulldozing people to accept everything that Obama does. While Clooney is fighting against the mass murder of your fellow Blacks in Darfur, Sudan, you guys are busy exploiting and colonizing your fellow Africans. If you are going to copy Hollywood stars do it better than them as your mediocrity and lackadaisical attitudes will only expose your rotten characters.


Asiegbu, a lazy theatre arts undergraduate and mediocre actor, shamelessly labelled me, the Prince from the Noble House of the Sanxaanu Kaggoro Xabila of Sotuma Sere, a loser just to score cheap points. I will forgive him on this one since he knows nothing about my true genealogy dating back to the days of the ancient Ghana Empire. Next time, he will lose his tongue! However, if prostituting my dignity at the altars of the be-rich-quick mentality, vanity and impunity, is the marker of success in his part of Africa, then I am proud of being a loser. Any sincere person who takes his or her time to study my pedigree and academic or professional achievements with an open mind will know that I do not need to denigrate myself to the slimy levels of Asiegbu and his fellow gangsters or be used as a tool of dictatorial propaganda. Ethics are absent in their shallow vocabularies. Unlike Ejike Asiegbu, I am in the film profession for the passion, the calling and for social consciousness. I am not interested in flashy cars, big houses, phoney awards, easy money and the celebrity hype with decadent shopping spree in Dubai, USA, South Africa or the UK as well as the obsession with meeting every Dick, Tom and Harry, no matter how rich, powerful or influential. I don’t need to be in his network of greed in order to remain a relevant stakeholder of the African cinema systems. I am not a Saint and I am not interested in becoming one. Like all mortal sinners, I have my natural shortcomings that I am working on round the clock.  Whatever the case, I am humbled by the fact that I am not an intellectual prostitute and political lackey.

Mr. Asiegbu is a nasty genetically corrupt hypocrite and notorious member of the dictatorial and parasitic “godfather” mafia connections that are messing up the Nigerian and African film industries. Wherever they appear, they put money above humanism and are ready to walk on corpses just to fool the people in power or business. I don’t blame him since he and his fellow scavengers are more interested in the amount of monies they get from President Jammeh than the welfare of the poor Gambians. Living parasitically at the expense of taxpayers is easy and Mr. Asiegbu will of course defend the status quo to keep the money flowing from our State House into his bank accounts.

He called me “dangerous” since I am a threat to his vagabonding promotion of impunity and dictatorships across Africa. He is aware of the fact that whenever Gambian voters and their regional or international development partners give me the legitimate mandate to preside over the Gambia with term limits, I will stop the wastage of our meagre national resources on parasitic scavengers.  At the time of writing, I have valid Princely customary authority over substantial pieces of land in Gambia and Senegal that predates the Balkanization of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. The modern constitutions of Senegal and Gambia recognize the progressive aspects of our African Customary Law and land tenure systems thus giving me the prowess to speak on land matters in my areas. As part of the intellectual elite thinkers and princely nobility in my community, it is naturally expected of me to be speaking truth to power both secular and theocratic and, to be reflecting the inner feelings of the people as a voice of reason.  Well, according to the Ejike Asiegbus of this world, this is too much social responsibility for a loser!

Ejike vomited that “the relationship between the good people of the Gambia and the Nigerian people is one which has come to stay and the likes of Barbucarr cannot break it out of sheer hate for his country’s president.” The word “hate” has been used repeatedly on me within the past weeks by narrow-minded Nigerians who are defending social injustice in Gambia. I see it as a reflection of the hateful mentality of tribalism, sectarianism and corruption in their national polity that they are exporting to Gambia.

If speaking truth to power means hating the president of a country then Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Nigerian intellectuals hated Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and other Nigerian Presidents they critiqued in the interests of the Nigerian and African peoples. The relative freedom that Ejike and his fellow Nollywood bigmouths are enjoying in Nigeria today is the result of the bravery of responsible Nigerians who risked their lives and assets to challenge impunity, corruption and military dictatorships. At least the Gambian Yahya Jammeh that he is trying to impress will never say that I, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, hate him.

I cannot just remember hating President Jammeh or his government. Only that I am sick and tired of the hypocrisy and denial games in our national polity. The domestic economy is in a mess and the standard of living is deteriorating. All the reports of the credible international organizations about the decaying state of affairs in Gambia cannot be wrong. Our national priority should be to use our meagre resources in addressing these problems including the massive exodus of human capital rather than wasting them on fly-by-night actors with no sense of responsibility and conscience for the poor and the suppressed.


As if his failed attempt to truncate the history of Gambian filmmaking is not enough, Ejike Asiegbu displayed his contempt for the real movers and shakers of the Nigerian film industry when he refused to credit them for their pioneering work. He thinks he will win the trust of foreign investors when he tried to twist my words and label me anti-foreign capital.  He claimed that “if a dangerous character like Bubaccar ever becomes President of the Gambia, one does not need a soothsayer to know that he will place an iron curtain over the country and bar foreigners from investing and or doing business in his country thereby causing his people pain and suffering…” Rubbish. Do not tell me the pains and sufferings of the Nigerian people have stopped since the day Nollywood gained global attention and since the moment some Nollywood noise-makers started partying with despots and corrupt political patrons in and out of Nigeria?

If Mr. Asiegbu and his fellow quacks are honest they should find answers to this question: why is it that with all the supposedly massive Nigerian investments in the Gambia, the country is ranked the world’s fourth poorest in 2015 according to the IMF?

His reference to foreign investment is hypocritical and shows that he is too senile to even understand the evolution of the Nigerian film industry he claims to be representing as a lousy actor. The truth that scavenger Asiegbu is not willing to accept is that THE NIGERIAN FILM INDUSTRY WAS BUILT BY NIGERIANS FIRST AND NOT FOREIGNERS WHO INVESTED IN NIGERIA as I already hinted above. I don’t expect sincerity from a so called Pan-Africanist and civil rights activist who sees nothing wrong in the killing of over 40 Ghanaians in The Gambia while faking the appeasement of foreign investors and denying the pioneering role of his fellow Nigerians in building their home video industry without outside funds.

I find it too hypocritical that we keep hearing about “local content” for investments and projects in Nigeria but if we ask for the same fundamental rights in our countries, we are called xenophobes and dangerous. The globally-accepted rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) encourage local initiatives or reasonable barriers against dumping and unfair investment practices. This does not make one dangerous.

Why are Europe and USA developing safeguards against cheap and sub-standard Chinese goods that are dumped on their markets? Does this makes current U.S. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel dangerous for building barriers against Chinese destruction of their local capacities? The Chinese are now compelled to adopt Western standards and make concessions behind the scenes in other to do business in Europe and America. The “investor-friendly” Ejike Asiegbu cannot honestly say that he will accept it when the Chinese start making Nigerian movies and flooding the markets with even cheaper DVDs that will nail the coffins of his moribund Nollywood?  If President Obama and Merkel are dangerous to their successful peoples and economies, then I am proud to become a “dangerous” Gambian leader when Gambians give me the limited legitimate mandate for it.


I did not write my thought-provoking articles to appease common mortals. I stand by every word till the last drop of my blood. I also respect the rights of people to disagree and complain. They have to live with the contents as there is nothing under the sun that will make me modify my tone or edit my arguments to appease the fastidious folks. When the Nigerian mercenary judges were grabbing the offers of President Jammeh to jail Gambians indiscriminately, they were labelled as “mercenary judges” and concerned Gambians raised their voices. I don’t believe in selective judgements. The home video hustlers have been doing the same at least for the past 10 years and it only fair to challenge them.

I am grateful in observing that the real pioneers of the Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries are not mortgaging their souls to despots across Africa. Ejike Asiegbu and his gangs are just lousy no-bodies in the Nigerian film industry. The responsible big boys and girls of Nigerian cinema are there and I am saluting them for standing in solidarity with the suppressed people of The Gambia. Again we want collaborations between our Gambian CINEKAMBIYA Film Industry, Nigerian CINENAIJA Film Industry, Ghanaian CINEGHANA Film Industry, Senegalese SENCINEMA Film Industry, Tanzanian CINEMABONGO and others beyond the “wood” copy-pastism! Just stay away from the human rights abusers and let us sit and negotiate win-win terms for the common good of our Pan-African Cinema systems. We are one African family and agreeing and disagreeing is part of the vibrancy of the true family life.

Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu

Master of Letters in Film Studies: Theory and Practice (University of Stirling)

Gambian Filmmaker and Scholar on African Cinema

Email: [email protected]


Academia: http://stir.academia.edu/PRINCEBUBACARRAMINATASANKANU

Skype: princebasankanu 

Twitter: princebasankanu


Are Nollywood Stars Scavenging Our Resources? Interview with Prince Abubacarr Sankanu. https://whatson-gambia.com/exclusive/1158-are-nollywood-movie-stars-scavenging-our-resources-interview-with-prince-abubacarr-sankanu (Accessed: 26.10.2015) 

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