Under Heavy Weight Of Crown; The King Lost His Head

Sarjo Bayang warns Gambians
Sarjo Bayang warns Gambians

Sarjo Bayang

Dangerously ambitious to rule at all cost

Little known junior army ranker who paved his way to power by force of arms in July 1994  is now striving to be crowned king of Gambia in West Africa; a strip of land divided by a river some people say is where the country’s name came from.

After 20 years forced ruled with an iron fist worst of dictatorship marred by rampant corruption, economic decay, financial meltdown,  state sponsored secret killings, disappearance without trace, and vast array of harmful encounters meted out to a population barely 2 million, life is still far from settle in Gambia.

What people say

Most people in Gambia when you ask them about the state of affairs will tell you that they had enough of a president who lays heavy hand on all public resources to build his finance base and material empire. They are afraid to talk in the open for good reasons. Anyone who simply says the country is hard to live in pays a price by immediate arrest, detention, and court charges for treason.  That is Gambia under Yaya Jammeh who now wants to raise the bar higher by getting crowned as king.

Just last week, the state house and government of Gambia announced that the president acquired a new official title added to his chain of names. This new title “Babili Mansa” directly translates from Mandinka, meaning a king who builds bridges.


River Gambia is navigable from the Atlantic Ocean to far end of the country bordering Senegal. Boats have cruise the steady fresh waters on the two banks of which all year round greenery can be enjoyed as you sail along. Two islands are long established settlements for many years. St Mary’s Island is where Banjul the capital of Gambia is situated. McCarthy Island is seat of former governor and settled on; Georgetown as regional capital of the area.

Significance of bringing these habitable islands into the equation is to draw the line of interest regarding how Yaya Jammeh feels fit to be crowned king. St Mary’s Island where Banjul is situated has been linked to the Kombo St Mary area of coastal Gambia by a bridge for ease of commuting many years ago. Georgetown was preserved as habitable island for reasons linked to trading and security among other matters. That is where one of the maximum security prisons was built since many years ago. Prison escape was rare due to crossing constraints. A cable ferry was installed on South of the island near Sankulay Kunda. People of the area have long been considering prospects of bridging to replace a risky cable ferry that caused fatal accidents in the past. Travel on North Bank of Gambia was constraint by another ferry crossing at Kerewan tributary. There too a motorised ferry was the main crossing facility.

Politics of bridge building

During his 20 years in power Yaya Jammeh first built a bridge at Kerewan on North bank of Gambia. Later he built a second bridge at Georgetown – Sankulay Kunda crossing point. He attracted sufficient praise from people of both areas especially party supporters and militants standing for his ruling APRC junta government.

A Malian singer Sakouba Bambino Diabate was tipped about what supporters say Gambian President Yaya Jammeh achieved by building two steel bridges in his 20 years of rule. The singer was invited by Jammeh to compose songs in praise of his work. One of those songs happened to be “Babili Mansa”, the bridge building king. It was from then the idea of making his dream of getting crowned as king took another level. Even before that, some sycophants and blind supporters of Jammeh have been nursing this idea of naming him king of Gambia. Now the plans of making that to happen already reached advanced stage according to information reeling of out Gambia.

Influence of Gambia Muslim Clerics

Gambia Muslim association going by the name Supreme Islamic Council SIC have no secret about their open support of President Jammeh. They justify everything he craves or does. That includes the massacre of 9 death row prisoners in August 2012 when Jammeh swore he was to drink alcohol and eat pork if he would not carry out the killings that shook the world and made news headlines globally. He certainly carried out the killings amidst wide condemnation by Amnesty International and other rights groups around the world.

Gambia Supreme Islamic Council sought to justify the gruesome act by citing the Holy Quran as point of reference. Out of all Muslim leaders, it was two Imams, Baba Leigh and Bakawsu Fofana who openly condemned the killings. Both have been arrested, detained, and persecuted by government agents for long periods. They are both on exile; Bakawsu in Senegal and Baba Leigh, United States.

Now that Jammeh and his supports settled on plans of crowning him king of Gambia this will not go without the supreme Council of Islam justifying the unconstitutional widely condemned move.

Going by level of bias towards the lofty wishes and gross misconducts of President Yaya Jammeh demonstrated by the nation’s Islamic group it is very much anticipated by curious observers that they will throw their weight behind him in this venture of making him a king.

Gambia to have king like Saudi Arabia

Possible explanation by the group of Muslim politicians comes handy when they connect the king status to what prevails in Saudi Arabia. They seek to justify that having a king in Gambia is in line with political dispensation of Saudi Arabia, a leading Islamic nation. Jammeh is seen as following the ways of Muslim kings like that of Saudi Arabia and not bound by demands of democracy which is Western concept and practice of governance.

What makes it even dangerous is that already Jammeh is using position of president to order killings. Making him king will place sweeping powers at his command. That is serious and very dangerous for a man who is already drunken with iron fist grips on power he usurped by force of guns.

Wider implications

Those contemplating to unseat Jammeh before he does further damage could not be wrong taken into account the amount of danger a crown king Jammeh is ready to unleash on his victims. This move is unconstitutional and not required by already decayed situation of Gambia.

Think of the cost. Maintenance and upkeep of a rubber stamp parliament is already weighing heavy on Gambian tax payers. Having to pay for a crown king of Gambia will sink the nation much deeper. Jammeh as a person who likes to feed on titles will enjoy utmost at a cost that generations of Gambians will bear in long years to come.

Words have it that Jammeh already placed orders for a crown and all that makes him king of Gambia. The move is real mad venture. Wearing a crown under current hardship imposed on Gambians by 20 years of Jammeh misrule is seen as treating a king who lost his head under heavy weight of the crown nobody wants.

Considering the risk to life and resources from what Gambians have endured under Yaya Jammeh in all 20 years, the most sensible and proper move is for him to step down so that the country recovers from that wreckage. Crowning a king of Gambia is not feasible. It is costly, unsuitable, and the worst that can happen. It will count another burden Gambians will regret to live under.

While Jammeh refuses to reason as he advances this infamous, senseless venture it is up to Gambians to restrain him by disallowing the occasion. This is very unwise idea that must be stamped on to terminate it before too late. In the event that Jammeh is crowned as king with sweeping powers he will turn Gambia into a slaughter field never seen before.

Already 20 years misrule is enough evidence that Yaya Jammeh is not capable of leading a nation. What more has he to offer that is not seen since July 1994 as the military junta prevailed with untold hardship endured by all and sundry?  Should that not serve as warning for the wise?

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