Our New Redlight District

bamo-darboeAfrica is noted for marking each occasion with a fanfare of musical and traditional jamboree. Suffice it to say, each music or dance celebrates and showcases its cultural uniqueness and way of life. The Gambia is no exception to such carnivals.

However, what distinguishes her from the rest of other African countries is how her despotic President has overhauled this long standing tradition into gratifying his insatiable sexual gratification. Kanilai has now been transformed into an open brothel by President Jammeh where free sex is the order of the day. Every week, a galaxy of both government and private vehicles head to Kanilai transporting men and women of all ages to nurse their sexual urges. Sadly, most of these men and women who converged in Kanilai weekend in and weekend out are married with siblings.

It is reported that there was a woman who complained that her husband refused her permission to go Kanilai and when President Jammeh heard of it went fuming like a wounded lion. He said at the national television “if any woman’s husband refused you to come to Kanilai come and tell me. I will dissolve your marriage with him and give you another husband.” If President Jammeh could stoop so low on a national television and say such a disgraceful gaffe, he can even sleep with a dog.  I was left wondering how he would have felt knowing Zeinab was giving free sex to his bodyguards at the State house. The Wolof said “Ku warr mbame jaburr nyu warr sa mbam”; which literally translates if you ride someone’s donkey, another will ride on yours.

In all honesty, Kanilai is sex city in which President Jammeh and his military boys exploit Gambian and Senegalese women from Cassamance. Many of them are innocently and unwillingly caught in the carefully calculated web of women exploitation. For instance, a young chaste school girl who joined the euphoria of going to Kanilai for enjoying the musical jamboree found herself forcefully pinned on a bed while a soldier defiled her. The painful experience left this young innocent girl beating and blaming herself for what her rapist did to her. Imagine how many young girls and women have to endure such heinous experience in Kanilai under the patronage of President Jammeh? Some may argue that some of the women going through this rampant sexual exploitation have themselves to be blamed. Even for argument sake we agree that some of these women own a share of the blame, the fact still remain that President Jammeh has caste the bait to lure these women into his net of sex cartel. It does not require one to be a rocket scientist to add up the reasons how these women found themselves caught up in this web of sexual exploitation in Kanilai.

First and foremost, most Gambians are now barely struggling to have a decent meal a day. Giving that fact, it will only make sense that most of these women who find themselves in Kanilai are there to feed themselves. Jammeh lavishes buffets each weekend to attract many of the people converging at Kanilai. Others are there to get as much money as they can which President throws at the crowd. Certainly, it would be absurd to assert that such women are in Kanilai to offer themselves for sex.

Secondly, others are there to show their political allegiance to Jammeh. Even though their purpose of visit is purely political, they end up finding themselves warming strange men’s beds in Kanilai. Once they get caught up, most of them find it hard to free themselves from such exploitation. They are intimidated and blackmailed to continue offering their bodies for free.

As a consequence, many household have been disintegrated and broken through this free and open sex in Kanilai. President Jammeh is the brain and patron of this chilling sexual exploitation of Gambian women and girls. Couple with his political and economic crimes, Jammeh should also be held responsible for the physical and sexual exploitation of Gambian women and girls.

Babucarr Darboe

Chelmsford, Essex, UK



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