Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Gambia Judges And Lawyers Still Wear Symbol Of Slavery On Their Heads!

The last time I checked the Gambia gained independence in 1965 it has been 53 years since the British left The Gambia and they enlightened themselves from colonial rule; some leftovers of colonialism still remain in The Gambia Judicial sector in the 21st Century. I can’t understand the continuing tradition of The Gambia judges and lawyers wearing white wigs made of horsehair.

The courtroom wigs were officially adopted in Britain in the late seventeenth century as a reflection of the popularity of the wigs as a fashion statement in the larger culture. It all began with King Louis XIV in France who likely lost his hair to syphilis at age 18 and established the first wigmaker’s guild in Europe in 1655. (David, 2017).

Despite the fact, these wigs are conspicuous symbols of British colonial misrule yet still the wigs remain popular in The Gambia judicial sector. Besides, I am fully conscious of the significance of the wig and the gown to the legal profession in The Gambia, but I believe that if we are able to do away with the colonial wearing of the wig and the gown in our courts, we will be taking away a greater part of the intimidation and fear that often characterise our courtrooms.

After half a century into the end of colonialism, The Gambia Judges and Lawyers still cling to this old tradition of wearing the horsehair wigs. While the originators of the said tradition have abandoned it a long time ago. Surprisingly enough, the only outcome these wigs have in courts proceedings in actual sense is the heat it generates. These wigs are not favourable to The Gambia weather considering how hot The Gambia is. Gambians often find themselves in too much heat that they do not need the help of a wig to plant heat on their skins.

Truth be told, this practice is brutish, backward, reactionary and of no significance today, and thus, should be jettisoned. It merely glorifies the masters’ way of intimidating their subjects, inciting eminent fear among the people by divisions and classifications. (Safo, 2018).

The unanswered question is why the Chief Justice can’t bring their dress code into the 21st century, where they do not follow colonial norms. Is The Gambia Justice sector missing colonialism that it wants to remember this wigs and gowns brought to use by the colonial masters?

Saidina Alieu Jarjou

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