Mathew k Jallow's message to the youth and other young people of The Gambia
By Mathew K Jallow
Today marks the 45th anniversary of our country’s independence. I was still in high school on that day, and I and many others marched before our president, Sir Dawda Jawara and other dignitaries who came to wish us well. Among Gambians the day was filled with jubilation and the optimism was infectious. The broad smiles on the faces of Gambians projected the mood of the country. I was there to witness history. In the center of MacCarthy’s Square, high and secondary school students from the Banjul area stood rapt in military attention after marching to the beat of Gambia Field Force Band. One could hear a pin drop.
The highlight of the moment came with the inspection of the various school formations by the Duke and Duchess of York, representatives of Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Sir David Jawara. The children and students from each school, dressed in uniforms, proudly displayed their respective school badges, which were the envy and admiration of children who dreamt of a higher education. But the age-old legendary competition between St. Augustine’s Secondary and Gambia High schools was not manifest on that February 18, in 1965. On that day, we were not divided by loyalties to our schools, instead, we joined above all as brothers and sisters and fellow Gambians to make our country, our parents and guardians, and our new leader, Sir David K Jawara proud. On that day so long ago, as I stood somewhere in the middle of the St. Augustine’s school formation, and tried like other students, to make sense of what the day was about, I was oblivious of the dignitaries from around the world who were there to celebrate with us. But I had a hunch it was a big day in our country’s history.
Equally important, it was an Independence Day like no other. In the intervening years, this once backward country no one knew about, came a long way. And despite the endemic corruption that be-deviled Sir Dawda Jawara’s successive governments, everything The Gambia and Gambians became today, is owed to his tenure as our president. Many new initiatives brought material improvements in the lives of Gambians, and created a middle-class that hardly existed before then, but perhaps Sir Dawda’s greatest achievements are what is inculcated in the minds of those school children like me who proudly marched before him as he stood on the dais ready to deliver his first speech to us as our Head of State.
During his presidency, Gambia truly became the beckon of hope for many; a country where people came to revel in its peace and tranquility, but above all, a country that respected the dignity of man and left no stone unturned to ensure the law respected the rights and freedoms of citizens. But it all came to a screeching halt one fateful day in July 1994, with the ascendancy to power by a military regime that has wrecked havoc on our country since then. Today, merely uttering Yahya Jammeh’s name in public will land one in prison and at worst, cost one his or her life. Yahya Jammeh’s posters plastered all around the Greater Banjul area, watch menacing from mangled fences over clogged and stinking drainages and piles of garbage that will not go away. But even worst than that, the fear in the faces of people is palpable everywhere one looks, while the intimidating presence of uniformed and uninformed police, military and security officers has turned a once vibrant and boisterous population into a mute and docile people, with little hope and who see only a bleak future ahead for themselves and their children.
To control the population, police and military check points have sprouted all over the country, while civil servants cannot travel outside the country without government authorization, and scores of former civil servants have their travel documents confiscated, but nationals from Europe, the Middel-East and other African countries can traverse the world with Gambian diplomatic passports. As of today, nearly twenty Gambian journalists have fled to Senegal, the U.S.A and Europe and scores of some of Gambia’s most educated and skilled workers languish at home without employment, as barely literate and hardly educated replacements run the affairs of the country. And today, the nearly 350 million dalasis loan the Gambia owed in 1994, has ballooned to an incredible 20 billion dalasis, effectively making every man, woman and child in The Gambia owe more than 13, 333.00 in debt, yet hospitals and health centers are acutely short of drugs, schools lack text books, garbage overruns many areas in the Greater Banjul area, roads are in poor state of repairs, and while the glitter of street lights and new construction, give a false impression of development, the countryside has gone dark and desolate as the rural population has moved to crowd the twenty five square mile area of the Kombos most visitors see.
As I write, the National Assembly, in an unprecedented and surprising move, has launched a fund-raising effort to raise US $24 million to fund its programs, but it was only two weeks ago that Yahya Jammeh donated $10 million to the Gambia golf association, while medical institutions despair for drugs and other health related services and hardware. Inflation runs high, with everyday commodity prices hit the ceiling and Gambians struggle to feed their families. To make matters worst, NEWEC plans to increase electricity prices by 33%, a rate of increase which is so obscene, it is unheard of in the annals of rate increases. Worst still, money derived from the sale, transshipment, and storage of drugs over the past twelve years, has been laundered in the many fake banks that have come and gone in the past, and this has exacerbated the problems associated with dirty, illicit money circulating in the country.
Government institutions have all but become dysfunctional and the income generating parastatal agencies, such as Gamtel/Gamcel, The Ports Authority and Customs and Excise are used exclusively fund Yahya Jammeh’s many lavish festivities mostly in Kanilai, but also at the State House and Independence Stadium, while The Gambia’s military and poor farmers around the country establish and labor as slaves for Yahya Jammeh on scores of farms whose proceed Yahya Jammeh uses to feed the thousand of Casamance citizens who cross the border or are camped in Kanilai village and diverse areas in the St. Mary’s Island and the Kombos. Yahya Jammeh has tried all he can to divide us by tribe, by generation and by gender and until two years ago, he put his fellow Jolas in charge of every high ranking position in The Gambia; from head of the army, NIA, Police and all the director and senior government jobs, but he fired them all because they lacked the qualifications to handle their jobs. But now he has fired most of them, killed others and imprisoned others, and now because there are no more Jolas to hire, he is replacing them with people from other tribes. For the past ten years or so, there have been no Fulas and Mandinkas in any high position in government, and no one from the provinces either. I know even at your age, you know dividing us is not healthy for our country. After that has organized the women of our country; your mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers against the men who are your fathers, uncles, brothers and your father’s friends and former school and classmates. I think many of you will remember when 16 students your age were massacred by soldiers on the orders of Yahya Jammeh. How do you think the mothers, fathers, brothers, uncles and sisters of these innocent students who were shot to death feel? And imagine the dead were your own brothers and sisters. It is impossible to list everything Yahya Jammeh has done to destroy our country since he took over the reins of power.
I can also tell you that in every country in the world, the leader of a country is not allowed to engage in business, but Yahya Jammeh has ignored that law of government, and today he owns public transportation, owns bakeries and sells and supplies bread, and he is in the construction business and quarries and sells sand as well among many other businesses. That is an illegal thing to do. Jammeh took all the land that belonged to the people of Kanilai to farm on and made the land his own. But we understand that some of the youth are going to have a solidarity march from the Independence Stadium to the Arch, but some of us are baffled and want to know what solidarity they are marching for. And if they do march, I urge them to stop outside Mile 2 Prison where more than 80 Gambians have died of disease, hunger, torture and lack of medications. Others are chained and beaten from time to time because they oppose the way Yahya Jammeh is killing, intimidating and imprisoning our fellow citizens. So when the marchers come to Mile 2 stop and remember your fellow citizens suffering behind the high walls of the prison. In addition, as Gambians celebrate this 45 year independence anniversary, it is also worth remembering the Senegalese soldiers who are continually dying because Yahya Jammeh decided to arm the Cassamance rebels in that long drawn-out struggle, but above-all, fellow Gambians who have been executed, murdered, tortured to death, disappeared or continue to languish in our prison system. So as you make merry or jubilate, you ought to remember that there are many, many Gambian families whose sons and daughters, fathers and uncles, brothers and nephews have been executions, murders and disappeared and they are husbands, fathers, sons, daughters and neighbors and co-workers. And as you celebrate, remember also the several thousand fellow Gambians in Senegal, Europe, America and other countries in Africa who cannot come home and to be with their families, because if they come Yahya Jammeh will kill them ot imprison them. Below I give you an incomplete list of Gambians and non-Gambian nationals, who have been executed, killed, arrested and jailed, tortured and fled Gambia to escape Yahya Jammeh and his murderers. And thank you young fellow Gambians for reading this address. And God Bless you always.
Gambians Detained and Released, in Jail or Dead 1994-2009
RSM Alpha Bah
Major Ebrima Bah
Lt Momodou Alieu Ba
Corporal Samba Bah
Tijan Bahoum: Power Supply Director NAWEC
Kemo Balajo: ex-National Intelligence Agency
Foday Barry: ex-NIA; director of Intelligence
Ourani Barry: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Lamin Bojang: Medical Research Council
Ebrima Camara: ex-police officer
Omar Barru Camara: ex-MP APRC
Captain Wassa Camara
2nd Lt Alieu Ceesay
Lamin Ceesay: Politician
Madi Ceesay: President, Gambia Press Union
Awa Darboe Cham: wife of alleged coup leader Ndure Cham
Lamin Cham: ex-Daily Observer, BBC correspondent
Lamin Cham: Politician
Momat Cham: former minister
Momodou Cadi Cham: former politician
Superintendent Abdoulie Colley: ex-police officer
Retired Colonel Abdoulie Conteh: former KMC Mayor
Staff Sergeant Manlafi Corr
Captain Bunja Darboe
Lamin R. Darboe: Politician
Lamin Saiba Darboe
Captain Yaya Darboe
Adama Deen: former Managing Director Gambia Ports Authority
Demba Dem: ex-MP APRC
Momodou Demba: Politician
Mariam Denton: Human Rights Lawyer
Raif Diab: Businessman
Ramzia Diab: former nominated MP, APRC
Musa Dibba: ex-NIA Director of Finance
Sheriff Mustapha Dibba: ex-Assembly Speaker
Baba Drammeh: ex-Independent Electoral
Commission (IEC) officer
Omar Faal: Marabout
Ansumana Fadera: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Jerreh Fatty: Politician
Lamin Fatty: journalist, The Independent newspaper
Mariama Fatty: Politician
Kebba Faye: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Tamba Fofana: Head Master
Abdou Gafar: journalist, Daily Express newspaper
Lamin Gassama: Security Manager, Banjul International Airport
Antouman Gaye: Lawyer
Pa Njie Guirigara: General Manager, VM
Sarane Hydara: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Captain Abdoukarim Jah
Karamo Jaiteh: former Managing Director, Gambia Roads Authority
Suruwa Jaiteh: former Permanent Secretary
Staff Sergeant Buba Jammeh
Haruna Jammeh. Villager
Kebbaringo Jammeh: Councilor
Marcel Jammeh. Villager
Lance Corporal Babou Janha
Amie Jarju. Villager
Cherno Ndure Jarju: Politician
Lamin Jarsey: Politician
Tamsir Jassey: ex-Deputy Inspector General Police, Director of Immigration
Dudu Kassa Jatta: Politician
Ousman Rambo Jatta: Councilor
Colonel Vincent Jatta: ex-Chief of Defense Staff (deceased)
Momodou Jaw: ex-IEC officer
Abdoulie Kanaji Jawla: MP, APRC
Baboucarr Jobarteh: ex-Protocol Officer
Maimuna Jobarteh: Politician
Abdou Jobe: Managing Director, NAWEC
Alieu Jobe: ex-Accountant General
Duta Kamaso: ex-MP, APRC
Kanyiba Kanyi: Politician
Lamin Keita: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Nato Keita: Politician
Abdoulie Kujabi: ex-Director General, NIA
Dr. Badara Loum: ex-Permanent Secretary
Lt Ebou Lowe
Mustapha Lowe: College student
Bamba Manneh: ex-NIA operative
Chief Ebrima B. Manneh: journalist, Daily Observer newspaper
Fatou Jaw Manneh: journalist
Kebba Yorro Manneh: Politician
Daba Marena: ex-Director General, NIA
Malick M’boob: ex-Daily Observer, RV
Sulayman Sait M’boob: ex-Minister, IEC Commissioner
Sergeant Buba Mendy
Captain Pierre Mendy
Omar Ndow: former Managing Director of Gamtel/Gamcel
Ndondi S.Z. Njie: former Chairman of IEC
Alhagie Nyabally: ex-President, Gambia Student Union
Private Alagie Nying: Gambia National Army
Sam Obi: Daily Express, RFI correspondent
Baba Saho: ex-NIA director, External Security
Musa Saidykhan: former Editor-In-Chief, The Independent newspaper
Dodou Sanneh: former journalist, GRTS
Ebrima Sillah Sanneh: ex-IEC officer
Lamin Sanneh: former Permanent Secretary
Sergeant Abdoulie Sanyang
2nd Lt Pharing Sanyang: Gambia National Army
Commander MB Sarr: Gambia National Army
Lt M. Savage: Gambia National Army
Ebou Secka: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Nourou Secka: ex-NIA operative
Momodou Senghore: ex-Senior Civil Servant
Ousman Sey: Marabout
Musa Sheriff: journalist, Gambia News & Report magazine
Amie Sillah: journalist, women activist
Alieu Singhateh: ex-NIA operative
Kebba Singhateh: Politician
Modou Sonko: journalist, Daily Observer newspaper
Private Ebrima Sonko
Juldeh Sowe: journalist, The Independent newspaper
Issac Success: journalist, Daily Express newspaper
Azziz Tamba: Politician
Arrest and Detention of Journalists
October 2005: Abdoulie Sey
2005: Musa Saidykhan
March 2006: Musa Saidykhan
March 2006: Madi Ceesay
April 2006: Lamin Fatty
Journalists on Exile in Senegal, Europe and the US
Pa Ousman Darboe
Alieu Badara Sowe
Pa Ousman Darboe
Fatou Jaw Manneh
Pa Omar Jatta
Pa Samba Jaw
Pa Nderry Mbai
Cherno Baba Jallow
Baba Galleh Jallow
Ebrima G. Sankareh
Mathew K. Jallow
Military/Security Mysterious Deaths
Captain Tumbul Tamba
Captain Musa Jammeh
Colonel Vincent Jatta
Lieut. Solomon Jammeh
Pa M. Jallow
Military/Security/Civilian Recently Detained
Lang Tombong Tamba
Omar Bun Mbye
Kawsu (Bombardier) Camara
Ngorr Secka, NIA
Ebrima (Chief) Manneh: arrested July 2006
Kanyiba Kanyi arrested September 2006
Haruna Jammeh arrested in 2005
Marcie Jammeh arrested in 2005
Alfusainey Jammeh arrested in 2005
Momodou Lamin Nyassi arrested in 2005
Ndongo M’boob arrested in 2006
Buba Sanyang arrested in 2006
Alieu Lowe arrested in March 2006,
Sgt. Sam Kambai arrested in 2006
Bakary Gassama arrested in 2007
Kebba Secka arrested in 2007
Ebrima Dibba arrested in May 2008,
Ebrima Kunchi Jammeh arrested in May 2008
Cases of Regime ordered Arsons.
August 8th. 2001, Radio Station 1 FM, was set ablaze around 2 a.m. in the morning, after proprietor George Christensen and his watchman were doused with hazardous chemicals in the hope of incinerating them. The two victims survived the ordeal, but the station was a total loss.
August 10th. 2001, the home of Alieu Bah, Radio I FM journalist, who moderated debates and discussions between prominent personalities, was set ablaze around 3 a.m. while he, his wife and children were asleep. The family narrowly escaped death, but the house was gutted to the ground.
October 17th. 2003, The Independent Newspaper premises were set on fire around 3 a.m in the morning when three unidentified masked men stormed the building, assaulted the night watchman and then sprayed him with fire hazard chemical in the hope he would burn to death. But he luckily survived the assault. The premises were destroyed beyond recognition.
April 13th. 2004, the Kanifing printing facilities of the Independent Newspaper was set on fire around 2 a.m. by six individuals dressed in military fatigue. The printing machinery and other hardware equipment were completely destroyed.
August 15th. 2004, the home of B.B.C reporter, Ebrima Sillah was set on fire as he slept. He narrowly escaped.
Arrests and Detentions of Journalists.
September 19th. 2003, around 6 p.m. Abdoulie Sey, the Editor-in-Chief, The Independent Newspaper was arrested from his office by intelligence agents and held incommunicado. He was released four days later.
September 2005, Musa Saidykhan, Editor-in-Chief, The Independent Newspaper, was detained for interrogation for a brief period of time shortly after returning from a South African journalist conference.
March 27th. 2006, Musa Saidykhan, Editor-in-Chief, The Independent Newspaper, was arrested again by security agents a few days after publishing an article critical of Yahya Jammeh’s reactions in the wake of an alleged coup attempt on March 21, 2007. He was released after three weeks in detention.
March 2006, Madi Ceesay, The Independent General Manager, arrested by the regime’s agents, was released after three weeks of detention.
April 10th. 2006, Independent reporter, Lamin Fatty was arrested from his home by NIA agents and released after two months in detention and charged with false publication.
April 25th. 2006, Independent receptionist, Juldeh Sowe, was arrested and released after several hours.
July 7th. 2006, Daily Observer journalist, Ebrima Chief Manneh, was arrested by NIA officials from the Observer premises, was seen in public once after two years detention, at the Royal Victoria Hospital, sick and emaciated. Six powerful U.S Senators; Edward Kennedy, Richard (Dick) Durbin, Russell (Russ) Feingold and Joe Lieberman among others wrote to Yahya Jammeh asking him to release Journalist Manneh after being held for nearly three years. Manneh has since been confirmed murdered by Jammeh’s agents.
May 24th. 2006, following the hacking of the online, Freedom Newspaper, five Gambian journalists whose names appeared on the paper’s readers list were arrested and detained for different lengths of time. After several months they were released. They are:
Pa Modou Faal
Other arbitary arrests
September 2006, a Gambia Radio and Television Services reporter, Dodou Sanneh, was arrested and detained, and later fired, rehired and fired again from his job government job.
March 28th. 2007, Fatou Jaw Manneh, a U.S. based Gambian journalist, was arrested at the airport, her traveling documents seized and charged with sedition. Her Kangaroo trial lasted more than a year. Her heavy fine was paid with donations from family and friends from all around the world.
December 16th. 2005, police ruffed Ramatoulie Charreh up after the participants in a conference she attended, attempted to visit the spot where journalist Deyda Hydara was gunned down.
In mid 2006, Njaimeh Bah, Point Newspaper reporter, attacked by unknown assailants, was severely beaten.
December 12. 2006, Baron Eloagou, reporter for the Daily Express, was severely beaten by unknown assailants.
December 2006, Abdougafar Olademinji, reporter for the Daily Express, was attacked by unknown assailants and beaten severely.
June 14th. 2009, seven journalists and members of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), were rounded up from various locations by heavily armed paramilitary agents and detained at NIA headquarters before being transferred to the notorious Mile 2 prison outside Banjul. The group listed below, were granted bail and charged with publishing seditious material and their case is ongoing despite protestations of regional and international organizations such as Media Foundation for West Africa, Amnesty International, Community to Protect Journalists.
Emil Touray, Secretary General Gambia Press Union
Sarata Jabbi Dibba, Vice President, Gambia Press Union
Pa Modou Faal, Treasurer, Gambia Press Union
Pap Saine, Managing Director, The Point Newspaper
Ebou Sawaneh, Editor, The Point Newspaper
Sam Sarr, Managing Editor, The Foroyaa Newspaper
Abubakr Saidy-Khan, journalist, Foroyaa newspaper.
June 16th. 2009, Abdulhamid Adiamoh, Publisher of Today Newspaper, was arrested for false publication and detained at National Intelligence headquarters. Forced to plead guilty or face deportation back to Nigeria, he was fine an extortive amount of money or face six months jail time.
June 22nd. 2009, Augustine Kanja, a reporter for The Point Newspaper, was arrested and detained by security agents. He was released June 25th, 2009.
Attempted Murders: Fled Gambia
Ousman Sillah: Attorney/Lawyer
Mai Fatty: Attorney (Attorney/Lawyer
Foreigners Massacred in The Gambia
72 Ministers: Appointed and Fired
Mass Axi Gai
Therese Ndong-Jatta (resigned)
Maba Jobe (hired & fired before taking office)
Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe (resigned)
Joseph Henry Joof (resigned)
Satang Jow (retired)
Lamin Kaba Bajo
Fatou Bom Bensouda
John P. Bojang
Bojang Mamat Cham
Momodou Nai Ceesay
Ousman Koro Ceesay (murdered)
Sulayman Massaneh Ceesay
Bakary Bunja Dabo
Sadibou Haidara (murdered)
Sheikh Tijan Hydara
Balla Garba Jahumpa
Momodou Sarjo Jallow
Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh
Hawa Sisay Sabally
Sana B. Sabally
Sidy Morro Sanneh
Amina Faal Sonko
Bai Mass Taal
Crispin Grey Johnson
Marie Saine Firdaus