By Suntou Touray
The Blessing has overtaken the curse. The Sherrifs are said to be the first spiritual community to bless the former Lt Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh before, and after he joined with other disgruntled soldiers to overthrow the Gambia’s democratically-elected government with force.
The soldier-turned-civilian leader felt so spiritually secure that he started talking loosely. In one of his public speeches, Chairman Jammeh said: “I don’t fear anything or anybody.”
What most Gambians asked was whether Mr. Jammeh was right to make such “foolish and mindless comments.” The confidence was gain as a result of bribing his way into the secret chambers of most SeneGambian marabouts and traditional healers’ tightly kept secrets. Although we must hasten to add that not all Senegambian, Malian, Guinean and Mauritanian marabouts open up to the Gambian President.
A vast majority of them sadly did accept his money and thus anointed him with their ‘holy words’. However, I came across a case in Senegal where a marabout in Cassamance went into seclusion (Kalwa) in order to destroy President Jammeh only for his elder brother to intervene, saying, “Do you want to go to hell for a man who is destine to be punished by God. Leave God to do his work on President Jammeh, he is too far destroyed for you to invoke any spirits on him.”
The Battle between President Jammeh and the marabout community is on. The biggest mistake committed by the SeneGambian Marabouts is to abandon their core principle of spiritual screening (Lastakar) of nightly observation of events, people and jinns. Whether for money or otherwise, dictator Jammeh smoothly and sleekly bypasses their checks, getting the blessings and tightly kept secrets, to a point he is now ready to assault them with a combine ‘Islamised marabout‘ and his pagan magical force’, a trade he has learnt from different sources, including (visiting hunters) Dunsos in Mali and Cassamance.
The marabout community committed a collective crime of harboring, cussying up to and befriending a vicious tyrant for money, and now he is turning against them one by one. He is now insulting them and undermining their once privileged position and authority countrywide. The call now among Gambians is a matter of “let us wait and see what they are made of.”
President Jammeh’s continuous betrayals of his spiritual masters is a testament to how far he is ready to plunge in testing his own spiritual powers. The then skinny, malnourished looking Lt. Yahya AJJ Jammeh was one among the 1994 coup makers who strongly believes in the world of the spirits locally referred to as Serigns, Marabouts, Moro, Chernos.
Lt. Jammeh was so keen in being different from his fellow coup makers that in the first few days of the 1994 coup, when external and internal uncertainty gripped the small west African nation. Mr. Jammeh, according our ex-military sources, “sought the spiritual cover of the Darsilameh Sanghajor Sheriffs for protection, fame, fortitude and withstanding threats against him.” These noble Descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Sanghajor anointed Lt Jammeh with all their powers to the extent that he outshone his colleague coup-makers who have all since hibernated or visited their ancestors.
The anointing of President Jammeh with powers in Sheriff Kunda has turn spectacularly against the Sherrifs. He started by first humiliating the former First Lady Tuti Faal, the assaulting of Airport Imam Sheriff Al-Heyba Hydara, the plot to capture the exiled Wasadou SHeriff Samsideen Hydara, and now the persecution of the elderly Sheriff Caliph General in the person of Sheikh Muhideen Hydara.
Opposition figures in the Gambia are of the opinion that, the case of the Darsilameh Sherrif is a complex one. Since the Sanghajor Sherrifs do delegate their disciples to visit President Jammeh in Kanilai, any opposition intervention may backfire as the regime put a GTRS propaganda peacemaking in motion thereby pulling the carpet under the opposition efforts.
The lessons here for the Marabout community to learn is to refocus their attention on pure spirituality of attending to the weak and the poor, educating through authentic Islamic knowledge, focus on the concept in the early Sufi community of paying little attention to wealth, and status. If they can return to the old days of total spirituality, no dictator can persecute them and get away with it. However, if you enjoy the wealth of a tyrant, your invocations will hardly affect him, since you became a party to his ill-gotten wealth.
Senegambian marabouts are now rather competing with people in building the tallest storey buildings, living flamboyant lifestyles, marrying the pretties girls, living it large and not bordered on their source of wealth. God does not answer to a man whose belly is full of haram [illegal means of survival] earnings. President Jammeh knew he has fed the religious elites from Kartong to Koina, from Pasamance to Barra, from Cassamance to Touba, to Kaolack. How then can he feel threatened by these same marabouts he had feed, dashed them with fleet of cars and compounds?
However, God is always on the side of the victims, let us all pray that Jammeh be damned and removed by the Might of God the All powerful, All Wise.
I agree with the old Mandinka adage that “no matter what a knife can never sharpen itself.” Another wise saying worthy of remembering is that “we must remember our fallout with anyone before blessing him/her.” Who says our Marabout community has not learnt their lessons on “blessing the Big Bully Jammeh too soon.” Was that the reason why their curses against him have either become slow or fail to register. The case of Sheikh Muhideen Hydara is not only a litmus test but also the last straw on the camel’s back. If you can tame a Caliph General, who then is a sacred cow.