Anguish still grips Abdou Karim Jammeh as he grapples with the reality of disability
Abdou Karim could not finish his education and is unemployed. He is still using crutches. 11 years after his fatal shooting, he is still grappling with the memory of what happened. No Government or NGO programme had been officially initiated to address problems of his kind. People had come from abroad to interview him and promised him some form of assistance. After receiving token assistance, they eventually disappeared without trace. This reporter spoke to Abdou Karim to sound his views 11 years after the shooting.
Flashing back on April 10th 2000, Abdou Karim Jammeh, who then was a grade 9 student, attending Sheikh Mass Kah Junior Secondary School, said he was on his way to sit to an exam.
He explained that on that day he waited for a vehicle to take him to school, but could not get one.
Fearing that he might miss his paper, Abdou Karim then decided to walk from Churchill Town to Westfield .
“When I arrived at Westfield , I realised that there was chaos and while I ran I fell down and could not pick myself up,” he reflected.
Abdou Karim said he felt excruciating pain but still tried hard to get up but just could not. It was at this time that the blood convinced him that he has sustained a gun shot.
Lying on the ground in despondency, Jammeh said he then saw two men in a vehicle, who picked him up and took him to RVTH. To cut a long story short, he said he was admitted for four months before he was released with a disability which could not be managed in the Gambia. After years of suffering without getting overseas treatment a concerned tourist from the UK arranged for him to get treatment in Germany. The first operation has been done and is left with the second operation. According to him this has reduced his pain but has not reduced his poverty. He said that some good people at the Atlantic Hotel had given him opportunity to work seasonally in the past but that he was left out this past Tourist season. He depends entirely on charity to pay his house rent, pay transport to go for physiotherapy and meet his daily needs.
He described April 10th 2000 as the darkest day in his life as it was turned upside down.
“This day heralded my transformation from being an able bodied young man to a physically impaired person, “he said
“My education came to an abrupt end because the gun shot wound I sustained on my knee would not heal quickly. The knee became stiff. It is only the intervention of my friend last year which has enabled me to cope better. Without the effort you people are making to make my problem known every year I would die of heart disease because of frustration. I did nothing to be shot and no one has accepted responsibility for shooting me and provide redress. Many Gambians abroad used to come to ask about my problem but no one contacted me now. I have been completely forgotten,” lamented Abdou Karim
“Since some of us suffered severe wounds, we could have felt that we have been adequately compensated if we received the necessary medical treatment. The wounds inflicted on some of us brought our education to an abrupt end. Compensation could have been given in order to enable those interested to continue their study to do so. Those families who lost loved ones can also be compensated, “Abdou Karim said.
According to him, victims of this tragic event are peace loving Gambians. “We are not enemies of the State. We love everybody in The Gambia,” the 30 year old victim declared. “No amount of money can make me get back what I lost on April 10th,” he emphasized.
A MOTHER NURSING THE MEMORY OF A BELOVETH SON
According to the mother her 18 year old son was shot dead on the 10th or 11h April 2000.
“Although no amount of money can replace the life of my son, it is better to console me than leave me in the wilderness, “ the mother lamented in a rather shaky voice.
She said since her son passed away eleven years ago, the Vice President visited her with a delegation and was given D2,300 (Two thousand three hundred dalasi). She went on to say, because of the visit “some of my friends and family members thought that I received compensation from Government. But I keep on telling them that I did not receive monetary compensation from them.”
Reflecting on April 10th 2010, the mother who was a single parent, said on the day in question she left her 18 year-old son sleeping; that before she left for work to Banjul, she gave a shop-keeper money to give to her son when he woke up.
She said that after she left home, she later received a phone call informing her that his son was shot.
“When I heard that my son was shot, I thought he was hit by a rubber bullet, because I never imagined that security officers could have used life bullets against innocent children, “she added.
News of the shooting of her son came to her as a thunderbolt from the blue and it led her to start a vigorous search to find her son.
“Upon hearing that he was shot, I went to almost all the health facilities in the Greater Banjul area with a view to finding him,” she explained.
She said her efforts to find her son on the very day of the incident turned futile.
It was the following day that she set her eye on the body of the child at the mortuary in Banjul.
She described the moment she set her eye on the corpse as the most shocking and terrible episode of her life.
“I could not believe it, because 24 hours ago I left him sleeping on a bed. However, 24 hours later I found him lying in a mortuary soulless,” she expressed.
The mother described the bond between her and the son as very strong.
According to her, the son did not just show concern over the well being of his family, but he was also a leader whose skills won him many friends among the young boys in his neighbourhood.
“My son was the captain of the football team of the neighbourhood. When they played he would bring his share of money and give it to me, “she remembered.
“I am not very particular about monetary compensation. What I need most is to be consoled regularly for the loss.”
Some people prefer to put unpleasant memories under the carpet. Foroyaa considers every happening as a book of life that we should draw lessons from in order to shape a better future. Such tragedies should never be allowed to happen again and the victims should be supported to facilitate the healing of the wounds, physical or social.