Sulayman Jeng


Sulayman Jeng22nd July 2014 is another year which retells the accounts of Gambia’s nightmarish and tear-jerking political and economic squashing for the past twenty years by a one-man absolute government. Today, the Gambia commemorates another year of repression, insecurity and a glossy totalitarianism. Little did Gambians know on that fateful Friday afternoon of 1994 when the Jammeh led junta announced that they have taken over affairs of the country’s governance from the PPP regime. A euphoria of hope descended on the Gambia as many rode smoothly with the hopeful promises of the young junta dubbed as “soldiers with a difference”. Yes, indeed, what“soldiers with a difference” they really turned out to be.


 Shockingly, apart from failing to deliver their maiden promises to the Gambian people who looked up to them, at the time, to transform the tiny West African state into an African Singapore, they robbed us off our freedom as a people and held the country’s economy and politics to ransom. Albeit, the takeover was said to be bloodless, its aftermath was an orchestra of chilling and degrading forms of killings, tortures, solitary incarcerations and enforced disappearances. Jammeh’s supporters will always contend that he brought development to the doorsteps of Gambians. For them development is nothing but the building of Hospitals, a television station, Five Star hotels, roads and Schools. Certainly it can be perceived as development provided it punctuates its functions to the letter. For instance, let us unveil the mask behind the hospitals and look at the reality from within. In any of those hospitals he had built, how many qualified doctors, surgeons and consultants work in each? How many cases are referred for outside treatment because of lack of facilities, medication and medical care? Are there enough medicines in the pharmacies? How often are patients referred to buy their own medication at these hospitals? Suffice it to say a hospital that fails short in measuring up to standards and requirements that qualifies it to be a hospital is nothing but a mere building.  The same can be said of the schools and hotels. What is even more depressing is how these people reluctantly fail to accept the sufferings of the rest of Gambians. For them, Jammeh’s cosmetic development is all they care for and see. What a pity?


Agriculture is Gambia’s economic spine but what has Jammeh done to it? Again some will excuse him for being a farmer and calling for “back to the land”. Funny isn’t it? Agriculture in the Gambia under President Jammeh is synonymous to Jammeh’s farms. We have seen a selected few of the department arrested and still languishing in detention awaiting doctored charges from the state persecutors. He made Gambians believed these gentlemen are solely responsible for the decadence of the Agric department. It is no secret that a bag of fertilizer equates the price of a bag of rice. How the Jammeh regime does expects a poor farmer in Sare Gai who cannot afford three daily meals for his family buy a bag of fertilizer and/or seeds to burst his yield? Let us agree for argument sake that the government has an allocated budget to lend money to farmers to buy fertilizer. If each farmer is lent one thousand dalasi for a period of six month with and APR of 40%, is that farmer being help to improve high living standard or to further impoverish himself. When was the last time that farmers were paid cash for theirgroundnuts on the spot at seccos? Most of them resorted to taking their produce to Senegal or market it elsewhere. How many factories are there in the Gambia today that can produce tomato paste? Please don’t tell me Mr President that you are not aware of the amount of tomatoes that perished every day in the Gambia due to lack of buyers, storage and manufacturing facilities. What about availing the farmers with the right machinery for their farms? Most Gambian farmers are still tilling their farms with traditional tools. Is that how you expect a national Agriculture to flourish? As if you have not impoverished Gambians enough, you now resort to enslaving them in your farmers. If truly you love the Gambia, why not nationalize your famers? How many fishing trawlers do the government has? You see next time you want to open your alligator mouth, think first.


You so much want to keep Gambians uninformed that you clamped on the press like a tick on flesh sucking life out of it.  You and I know that an informed citizen is a sovereign people who will not allow their elected representatives ride on their backs. Consequently, no other news that put you and your corrupt and repressive regime on the spotlight is featured on it. No wonder most Gambians now watch Nigerian movies and foreign channels instead of GRTS. I guess you know why Mr President. Yes, the Gambia has a University and you have built more schools. But you even admitted on your GRTS that the products of your schools cannot be compared with the products of yester years. If I rememberedwell you gave a comparison that if you ask a Grade 12 student the name of one of the state ministers he or she won’t be able to tell but ask them about the Hollywood stars or rappers; they know all of them like the back of their hands. Isn’t that spilling the beans for you oaf?


What do you have to celebrate on 22nd July  Mr President? A worrisome mounting youth unemployment? Certainly not. Every young Gambian now prefers to risk his or her life by taking the perilous back way to Europe in search of a better life than remain in the Gambia under your leadership. For those who are lucky to find employment, do their salaries sustain them? Let us move on to electricity and water supplies. I knew it; this one will dent your bloated ego. Their supplies are unaffordable and inaccessible. To make matters worse, they are rationed: persistent and unreasonable cuts.


Gambians have for long forgotten what freedom is under your twenty years of oppressive rule. People are so much afraid that pseudo names are used in public to refer to you. Anyone who opposes your view is either killed or incarcerated without trial.That is not worthy of celebration mop head. Insecurity is the order of the day. No brother is now the other’s keeper all thanks to you. Your human rights records are chillingly appalling. Innocent Gambians are harassed, tortured, maimed, banished and killing daily under your watch and command. Mr President that is not worthy of celebrating.


Is the judiciary independent in the Gambia today as your celebrate July 22nd Yahya AJJ Jammeh?


Written by Sulayman Jeng, Birmingham, UK

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