Fear and the Professor Jammeh factor in The Gambia

18 July 2009 at 05:44 | 745 views

By Alpha Tamba Lebbie, Boston, USA.

The Gambia is a very beautiful country, with a very beautiful people. During the tumultous civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone,Guinea Bissau and in Casamace, Gambia acted as their brother’s keepers and received many refugees fleeing those internicine conflicts in neighbouring countries.

Most refugees now in Europe and the Americas started their journeys via The Gambia. Whilst there,most found jobs in the country as teachers, an opportunity rarely available in other countries in Africa. A lesson most "foreigners" may have learnt while living in The Gambia is the honesty of its people.

A really decent people with a spirit of sharing hardly seen in most countries in the world. At Fridays prayers on the main avenue in Serenkunda where there is an outdoor market; everything comes to a standstill till muslim prayers are said. Afterwards anyone around is invited to lunch.

Currently the African Center for Human Rights Studies is situated in Gambia. Yet paradoxically,the country is now become a place where people live in constant fear of Yahya Jammeh’s operatives. Journalists, both foreign and local are being detained or deported.And even the civil service has been cowered. Spies in schools( tribal) could let the authorities know when anti- government feelings are expressed.

Journalists like Baba Galleh Jalloh( Founder and Editor of The Independent Newspaper) have been sent into voluntary exile. And Deyda Hydara ( Editor of The Point newspaper) was assasinated in the middle of the night , while leaving his office for home.An inguest is yet to come.I had worked for Deyda when I lived in the country.He was a real man and a Journalists Journalist.

Thus there is a human rights issue going on in that peaceful country. And it seems that the international community is not paying attention to the crisis looming.True to say that unlike most African countries , Gambia has done much more better economically.But the right of the people to express themselves is a sacrosanct part of the democracy that Yahya Jammeh claims to protect. There is one solace though in all this : that all Gambians are patriotic just like Professor Jammeh.The freer the people ,the better for all Gambians and all who live in The Gambia. Pr. Jammeh should release the journalists he has recently incarcerated.

Editor’s note: The Gambia’s president is now known in that country as Professor, Dr. Yayah Jammeh. He got the titles from the University of The Gambia.