DUGA Engages Youssou Ndour

Dear Mr. Ndour,

In DUGA’s open letter to you, we implored you, and the artists you produce to be sensitive to the plight of Gambians in your dealings with Yahya Jammeh. We are asking you to be sensitive as owner of Groupe Futur Media, and your record label to the plight and suffering of Gambians, especially journalists.  We had great hope in your involvement, and hence didn’t hesitate in launching an appeal of support.

In your response to our open letter, you explained that you would not want to deprive your Gambian brothers and sisters of the “cultural exchange.”  However, we recall that in 2003, you boycotted the United States in protest of the US invasion of Iraq, hence depriving your brothers and sisters living in the USA, and probably very nostalgic for a taste of home, that “cultural exchange.”  Your words exactly: “I believe that coming to America at this time would be perceived in many parts of the world – rightly or wrongly – as support of this policy.”

Your work with Human Rights Now, Amnesty International, Band Aid and numerous other causes must be mentioned, and has made you a giant on the world stage in the fight against injustice and poverty around the world. The entire world listened to your inspirational song in support of incarcerated Nelson Mandela. In 2012 your principled fight against a third term of the former president of Senegal, you did not hesitate to say NO, and demand that democracy must be the rule of our continent. On numerous occasions, you have persistently denounced what is seen as flagrant violations of fundamental human rights.  Mr. Ndour, your song New Africa has been a source of inspiration and strength for many Gambians in the struggle to free our country from one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world today.

In an interview with Jollofnews, an online newspaper, your brother Ibou Ndour, commenting on our appeal, told the reporter that “we are not politicians, but we will play for any politician who want us to play for him if we have a contract.  We will play a paid concert for Yahya Jammeh.  You cannot wait for musicians to solve political problems.”  We believe that Ibou Ndour has forgotten your involvement, as an artist, in the fight for just causes.

We implore you to not forget Gambians in you humanitarian activities and the fight against injustice.

Gambia may not have declared war on another nation and the streets may not be littered with bodies, but it must be pointed out that Gambians are not living in peace.  Everyday citizens, journalists, politicians, the young and old are subjected to judicial harassment, torture, violence, humiliation, extended detention without trial.  Many Gambians are forced into exile for fear of being assassinated.

As the owner of a media empire, you must be aware of Deyda Hydara and Chief Ebrima Manneh, two well-known victims, amongst many other anonymous victims; as well as the arrest of television host and journalist Fatou Camara which echoed in Senegal and the illegal closures of media houses such as Sud FM, Citizen FM, The daily news and Independent newspaper.

The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA), learned with sadness and confusion, of your decision to play a series of concerts in The Gambia on the invitation of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation.  You may or may not be aware that proceeds from those concerts will benefit the Jammeh Foundation.  As with many other agencies and governmental bodies, Jammeh has been using the SSHFC as his personal bank account to the detriment of Gambians citizens.

For consistency in your message and position, and your historic stance against the US invasion of Iraq en 2003, DUGA asks that you not perform to benefit the Jammeh Foundation, so as not to support the politics of fear, tyranny and subjugation.

We implore you to reconsider your decision to perform in Gambia to benefit the Jammeh Foundation.  We remind you that by not participating in shows initiated for or by Jammeh, will be a show of support for numerous Gambians in their fight against tyranny, while equally paying homage to Senegalese who have died under inhumane conditions in the Gambia, notably, Tabara Samb, Gibril Ba, Ousmane Sembene; and the countless and nameless others in Cassamance who have died as a direct consequence of the rebellion perpetuated by President Jammeh.


The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)

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