President Yahya Jammeh is certainly no stranger to what many of his supporters would call acts of benevolence when it comes to aiding communal occasions, particularly ones with high value religious connotations. But his latest such gesture has been making headlines far different from what he would have expected. The horde of gifts from the Gambian leader, said to be his contribution towards the commemoration of the 115th edition of the return of Serign Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba from exile in Gabon (Magal of Touba), is the subject of wild suspicion in Senegal, with many followers of the Mourid brotherhood reportedly questioning the reason behind the Gambian leader’s gesture. It is not just the sheer quantity of the gift, coming from a man who they claimed had never before considered sending in any such contributions, but the ‘‘odd’’ numbers of the donation – 1111 bags of sugar weighing 50 kg, 2 111 bags of 50 kg rice, 2 77 barrels of oil and an undisclosed amount of money – appears mystifying to them. ‘‘In Touba, one wonders about the odd numbers from this donation, which seem to betray a well-organized charity,’’ reported Walfadjri news. ‘‘what is the motivation behind the gift?’’ it enquired. The paper went on to report that what intrigues most people in the religious city of Touba about this donation is that for the first time President Jammeh is supporting the Mouride community at the Grand Magal. It quoted a source as saying, ‘‘the president of the sister Republic was never interested in what was happening in Touba.’’ The ‘‘extraordinary gift’’ was said to have been handed over to Serigne Mouhamadou Lamine Bara Mbacke by the Gambian Minister in charge of Religious Affairs. However, not every one in Senegal appears skeptical about the gift by the Gambian leader. A less wary Sununews.com described as ‘‘remarkable’’ the gift of 4 trucks loaded with commodities which, in every honesty, constitute highly demanding needs for occasions like this. And it certainly will make a very big different. ‘‘Indeed we are told Yahya Jammeh has given this contribution as a tribute to the Caliph General of Mouride, Serigne Bara Mbacke, who last year gave orders to his talibés to cultivate fields belonging to the Gambian president,’’ the paper said.
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