Heritage News Tourism and Heritage

Badge Messenger, An Overshadowed Civil Servant In Local Government Council

By Yunus S Saliu

Among the forgotten civil servant in the Gambia when it comes to Local Government is the Badge messengers, they are an important element in the Local Government setup but now looks like their roles is been overshadowed by modernization and civilization.

Despite their roles overshadowing by the contemporary cities in the Gambia, they are still very visible and useful in rural areas.

However, Badge Messenger during colonial rule was created for the role of police in the district in the protectorate thus during the colonial rule police were only available in Banjul, Bakau, Serrekunda, Kuntaur, and Georgetown “while the rest parts of the country got no police present. So, it was the Badge Messengers that were doing the work of police,” an erudite historian, Hassoum Ceesay, disclosed.

Some people, he said, though thought the Badge Messengers are bodyguards to the chiefs even if they fulfilled that role “Their main role is police duties during the colonial regime. These roles include, at the order of chiefs, arrest of offenders, distribution of letters such as summon letters, controlling of crowds and community feud.”

Every district in The Gambia has a team of Badge Messengers some districts have five some six depending on the size of the district, “they are no more visible in some of the areas named earlier, especially in the areas where there is no chief anymore.”

At this time Badge Messengers are only found in the rural areas because, during the protectorate days, the British were not ready to establish Police Stations everywhere but only established Police Stations in the urban centers while in the villages Badge Messengers acted the role of police in addition to be messengers to the chiefs hence they have the power to arrest, imprison offenders, search and query.

“Nowadays, people hardly know they still exist in some communities in The Gambia, but they are, they are part and parcel of the local government ecosystem. Everyone should work towards bringing back the work of the Badge Messengers into full operation because they are playing a very important role in the communities. Taking into consideration some security gaps that the Badge Messengers can fill,” Hassoum Ceesay defended the important role of Badge Messengers.

However, Badge Messengers have ranks like police as they have Junior, Senior Badge Messengers, and also Chief Badge Messengers they are civil servants but now difficult to get a replacement for them because many people hardly know much about them. And looking at their profiles these days many of the Badge Messengers are very closer to their retirement ages and without the possibility of having youth recruit to replace them for the job.


Yunus S Saliu

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