Gambian Tragedy: Husband Kills Wife, Sets House On Fire

Gambian coffin
5 Gambian married couples killed each other in West in the past few years

By Suntou Touray

Confirmed Reports Indicate that at least five Gambian couples killed each other in the West in recent times. Three cases were reported in the United Kingdom, one in Sweden and one in the United States.  The figure could be higher if depression and heart attack related deaths are counted. The common trend is simple family conflict remaining unresolved, argument over money, unmitigated provocations, children welfare, household chore and pressures from extended family back home. The Gambian diaspora needs to talk about family life issues.

The conflict of interest in marital homes among Gambians in West has reached fatal proportions. The expectations of husbands on wife’s and the cultural and legal framework in west  creates conflicts in African marital institutions. Due to the nature of the self-contain existence, the safety net of seeking advise from elders and experience couples, there is no framework for redress in situations where husbands and wives reach irreconcilable differences. Travelling abroad for greener pastures completely shift the way the traditional Gambian family lives. This change of culture and way of life sometimes impact tragically leading to violence and loss of life. No one can blame either side on who is to blame, however, Gambian couples are advised to seek neutral mediators in events of conflict in their marital homes. Seeking the counsel of an Imam, Priest, close friend, family back home can sometimes break the deadlock.

This case in question is a Gambian tragedy and the trend is not healthy reading since, our sources indicate, this is the 5th occasion Gambian couples killed each other.  We pray that, this case be the last in which our Gambian brother and sister take each other’s life.

“Mariama Njie-Jallow, believed to 37 years old, was killed at her home in Admiralty Road on Sunday. She died from a stab wound to the neck.

Her partner Mbye Jallow, 56, then took his own life by setting fire to an upstairs bedroom. A Home Office post mortem has confirmed that he died from smoke inhalation.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hayward, from the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: “We would still like to hear from anyone with information regarding the couples’ deaths and ask them to contact the Major Investigation Team directly on 101.”

Earlier this week, police described the deaths as an “isolated domestic incident”.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Guy said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths but were talking to Mrs Njie-Jallow’s family to build up a picture of her life and “what was going on at the time” before passing a report to the coroner.

He also urged anyone who suspects domestic violence to get in touch with police.

“If you are friends or neighbours with people and you suspect domestic violence is occurring, we would ask you to call police and make us aware,” said DCI Guy.

“Often there are things in people’s lives that neighbours and friends don’t always know, which is what we’re looking at,” he added.

It is believed Mrs Njie-Jallow and Mr Jallow were originally from the Gambia. They had been living in the country for several years. Neighbours, who described them as “always friendly, very pleasant and very respectable” have been left shocked by their deaths.”


  1. Dida Jallow-Halake (LUNTANGO)

    A major part of the problem Suntou, is the age gap. In the above case it happens to be 20 years. This is culturally very common across Africa, but it does not augur well when the couples move to the West where old age is seen very negatively – whereas at home it is valued.

    Secondly, Gambians especially do not practice a private marriage unit where husband and wife settle disagreements between them. At home much of the disputes between husband and wife are settled by family members – which leaves the couple free to argue as much as they want – knowing that family members will settle everything (even where it comes to blows back home, the policeman will become part of the peace bantaba instead of arresting anyone!). Here couples are isolated without the ability to rationally settle their disputes – which quickly escalates to involve violence and the police.

    You are right that “Seeking the counsel of an Imaam, Priest, close friend, family back home can sometimes break the deadlock” … but that can only happen in non-urgent situations where tempers remain calm. Also, as you point out above, the family back home may themselves be the problem – especially when they try to financially “milk” the couple in Europe.

  2. lamin Kommah

    A very sad incident. I agree Dida the age gab is wide.

  3. Age does not matter around here because I have seen couples who are 35 yrs apart.This is just a tragedy. Living in the west for a while might or maybe could even be more closer to the answers of this puzzle.The mere fact that the hubby committed suicide by setting the house on fire is more western style than African. May their souls rest in peace.

  4. My sympathy and prayers for Allah’s (swt) mercy and forgiveness goes to the woman..My condolence to the families and friends of the deceased couple..May Allah (swt ) give them the strength to overcome this tragedy. .

    I do not wish to comment on this particular case, but generally speaking, there can be no excuse for murder and suicide, whatever the circumstances. ..Majority of people on this planet find living their lives to be a challenge and a struggle, of one sort or the other , on a daily basis, but they persevere and confront their challenges…

    As Africans and Gambians, growing up in difficult and sometimes, inhospitable environments,we should be well prepared to confront, and with determination, overcome our challenges in the West. …We must therefore “soldier on” and keep the faith…Knowing that there is always a “tomorrow “.

    But if we choose to take the easy option out and decide to “end it all”, by taking life, then it must be ours and ours alone…We must not take any other person’s life with us..Whether friend or foe; relative or not…

    May Allah (swt) give us all the strength to face our challenges and difficulties, with dignity, perseverance and determination to overcome, no matter how “big” they may seem or be…

    Aamiin. ..

  5. Suntou Bolonba

    Dida, you are indeed correct on several points. I cannot imagine what lead the man to physically attack the wife. An unimaginable tragedy. Thanks for the wise words. Suntou

  6. Suntou Bolonba

    Bax, I think your statement below sum it all. I will associate myself with it. Keep up the wise words. Thanks

    “As Africans and Gambians, growing up in difficult and sometimes, inhospitable environments, we should be well prepared to confront, and with determination, overcome our challenges in the West. …We must therefore “soldier on” and keep the faith…Knowing that there is always a “tomorrow “.Bax

  7. Baragie12

    Too bad. This is a suicide, the man is already in hell fire for deliberately killing his wife and himself there is nothing like soul rest in peace. May the lady’s soul rest in peace. But Mr Mbye u are finish both here and hereafter.

  8. This was a very sad occurrence and has brought intense pain and sadness to the whole family and friends. I happen to know the younger sister of the late Mariama Njie and her husband and I can only imagine the pains they are going through right now.

    I am not sure if age gap is the major issue here as some would surmise, but looking at the general Gambian and African population in the diaspora, I have seen numerous couples with significant age differential but doing well together.

    I think we need to get to the bottom of the problem before we could come to the ‘age factor’ conclusion. in marriage or any other human relationships for that matter, many things could sometimes go wrong. My understanding is that the couple had also been married for at least 12 years.

    May the Almighty bless our souls.

  9. i totally agree with dr Haleke

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