Relations between The Gambia and Senegal often attract endearing descriptions, with many citing this geographic and socio-cultural entity as a nucleus for the potential unification of the sub-region and beyond.
It is true that every Gambian/Senegalese has relatives across the border. We speak the same languages, share the same cultural heritage and more. The only difference is what the marauding colonial forces did here and left us with. To put too much emphasis on the colonial legacy could lead to defeatist attitudes vis-à-vis integration/unity but ignoring this historical reality could also render us unrealistic.
Therefore a health balance between the above-mentioned perspectives would be in order.
The Gambia has earned her name as the smiling coast and there is no gainsaying the fact that we rank high among the most peaceful and accommodating peoples in the whole world.
Our neighbours are also kind and accommodating but more often than not, the height of their rhetoric about 'Senegal ak Gambie benna bopa la ken manu kor haaj nyarr' (Gambia and Senegal are but one head that can never be split into two) is not matched by the depth of love and mutual understanding/respect that should come with it.
Senegalese generally believe that Gambians are short-tempered but the reality goes beyond the alleged superficial irascibility. We are a dignified people who would never condone condescending overtures. When your "mboka" (relative) sounds more like a provocation that an accolade, then the need for adjustment becomes paramount.
Having laid all of the above premises, it is important for us all to remember our duty for patience and forbearance; but honest dialogue and fair dealings would surely not hurt the need for patience. We pray that the unifying elements in our relations outweigh the divisive forces. Amen.