Sharing The Booty: Why Blame The Islamic Scholars

It’s secular educated men and women who do the diplomatic bidding for President Jammeh; it’s us who are employed in all arms of government; it’s us who choreograph the visitations of the Imams and Priest to State House; it’s us who work at the media houses disseminating the news of Jammeh’s activities; it’s us who manage and smuggle out Jammeh’s wealth; it’s us who hold him where he is. It’s us who incarcerate, defend him in court, run all his errands for him. So where should the key blame lie?
At the doorsteps of Gambian secularist, not religious leaders. During the First Republic, there was a council of religious leaders. Under that democratic dispensation, we hardly hear or see religious figures dabbling or making political statements. Hence, under a tyranny and dictatorship, the dictator will entrap all and sundry and use people for his propaganda. We are as trapped as the religious leaders, and that is where the problem lies. Stop blaming religion or where people get their religious education from. Learning is a key command of all scriptures and no amount of howling or uproar will stop that. America has religious nuts but they cannot force their beliefs on anyone, likewise Britain, Senegal, Mali etc.
The problem for us is the lack of democratic dispensation, lack of rule of law and lack of plurality of opinion. Let’s coin our messages around ‘No 5th term for Jammeh’.
It’s attractive and plausible for desperate Gambians to support statement against clerics in our current plight. The mere fact that some clerics occasionally support Yahya Jammeh is sufficient grounds for an all out assault on the personalities of our religious scholars.
The undeniable fact remains: Yahya Jammeh is a product of secular Gambia. He emanates from an institution whose members bluff more than any other of their extreme secular nature. The security apparatus of The Gambia is seen by many as the least place for committed Muslims. The culture of boozing, womanising and regular engagement in voodoo fetish spiritualism is common currency among the men of the security services. The army, police and customs lay no red carpet for puritans.
Yahya Jammeh came upon us through the army, a place where anyone educated only through the Islamic tradition is disqualified from admittance. The army is just one sector where religious educated or Arabic educated graduates have little or no opportunity whatsoever. Yet today, few occasional comments by one or two Imams irritate secular Gambia so much that every single religious scholar is qualified as insincere, a hypocrite, and what have you. Yet who stands to gain in a Gambia where a dictator like Yahya reigns?
It’s the secular educated Gambians who are enjoying with our dictator of Kanilia. It is us who do all the jobs for him which he uses to blindfold others in the name of development. It’s us who do all his PR propaganda for him; it’s us who act as his diplomats, validating him across the globe. Yet we feel that religious scholars are the ones who gain crumbs in all of our mess should be blamed because they are men of God and should stay away from politics.
The real reason some religious scholars make statements favourable to Yahya is simply in defence of the one thing that they can rely on to salvage comfort and satisfaction. Their religious principles and the environment in which they can promote what is also important. Yahya Jammeh plays Christians against Muslims, by privately and publicly making favourable comments toward the minority Christian community and attacking the Muslims scholarly base.
The strategy of divide and manipulate is deliberate and a ploy to force the Islamic scholars to favour him, if not he will make the environment in which Islam operates pollutant and difficult for the advocate of Islamic values. I know some people find the whole religious
discourse a waste of time and unnecessary, but to others it’s more important than any other activity. Therefore, the Islamic scholars thread the actions of Yahya with utmost care. They use the scriptures to highlight the effects of dictatorship in a general context. They cannot name Yahya as the President and attack his actions. They have little to gain by confronting Yahya head on, especially when they are seeing their colleagues being bulldosed while their congregation does nothing. For them that is tantamount to putting your hand in the lion’s mouth.
To make matters much clearer, how many educated Gambians live in the diaspora? How many of the educated Gambians are willing to criticise Yahya’s administrative styles and question his crimes against Gambians in the open? Now we have to bear in mind that, some conservative estimates put the amount of Gambians in America to be 25,000 and in the United Kingdom15,000. Many more are living in other parts of the world. Despite these Gambians living over 6,000 miles away from the claws of Yahya and his security agents only a negligible amount confronts the injustices of the APRC government and its bully boys.
Comparing the inaction of secular educated Gambians who can go home, take good jobs with pensions and all sorts of benefits with or without Yahya’s government. Gambians who can’t compete with us in the civil service, private sector or for international jobs, we want those people to act in open defiance of a dictator who can kill or lock them on no grounds for what?
Yes, the argument may also be, if you will not condemn a dictator then don’t openly support some of his actions. A valid point, but as I alluded to earlier, if massaging the ego of a dictator means he will leave people alone to practice their faith and go about preaching religion freely, then the scholars (few) of them for that matter, make comments favourable to Yahya. Whilst any open attack on his government will be taken as a case of hostility and open defiance. Which in turn means jail or be ready for martyrdom. The problem now is more complicated since Jammeh has completely hijacked Islam to justify his inept backwardness.
Dictatorship is the worst form of government anywhere in the world. But do Gambians want religious personalities to fight secular political battles for them? In our current position, many will say, anything that can unseat Yahya is welcome, but post Yahya, how do we reconcile seeing clerics talking politics?
It is vital that we divorce the spiritual from the normal everyday activity. Our Islamic scholars are well-meaning and dedicated people. These men and women are educated to highest level. They know the implications of causing harm to people. They also understand the current political situation in the country. The means of involving them in resolving the political dilemma in our country should be well thought out. They have families, responsibilities and with little means from the state or private sector.
Most of the scholars gain their livelihood from NGO’s from other Muslims states. They teach, operate charities and so on, and get paid from charitable sources. Although many of the Arabic educated Gambians specialise in different field of studies, ranging from language, geography, engineering, electrical mechanics, education, theology, history etc, they don’t have the facilities once in the Gambia to learn Basic English language in converting their skills. Although this is changing slowly.
Currently, whilst Jammeh talks about his Islamic Republic thing, three religious figures are detained, which means the Imams are as in danger just like all of us. Let’s apportion blame on our political problems, discuss and compromise where necessary so we can end the dictatorship. Whether we like it or not religion will remain a personal matter in The Gambia as soon as the sunshine over us.
Let’s speak to these religious men privately and advise them to keep their distance away from the dictator whose yokes remain hanging on our necks. All we need is the fall of a brutal dictator so it can be live and let others live, a Gambia for all of us. That’s all we should be striving for.


  1. Suntou, Allah said, if you cannot change something, condemn it, if not, do not condone it.
    There are many imams and religious scholars in the Gambia who do not eat from Jammeh’s hands and some others who never met him personally and are surviving honorably. The few who are promoting Jammeh’s agenda are as guilty as any one else promoting his agenda openly.
    I agree with you that we should not allow Jammeh to dictate the agenda of the struggle. In fact what I have observe on the ground is that people make very few comments on Jammeh’s outrageous pronouncements and consider him a joke and and a comedian as they have more pressing issues at hand such as the high cost of living, medical bills, school fees, transport fees etc.. to worry about than reacting to Jammeh’s nonsenses.
    We are on an election year and Jammeh will do everything possible to divert people’s attention from the daily hardships, hunger and problems facing the potential electorate until election day. Unfortunately it is the diaspora Gambians who mostly fall trap of Jammeh’s intentional diatribre since he embarked on the “Insult the people’s tour”. Jammeh will not stop throwing bones at us just to keep us from concentrating on the election strategies at hand.
    If Diaspora Gambians can ignore Jammeh’s diversion tactics just for one week, he will go totally confuse and worried.
    Our ONLY agenda beside the electoral reforms is to make sure people register and vote en masse against Jammeh in December 2016. NOTHING should deviate us from this NOBLE and SURVIVAL objective.

    • You are spot on Deyda. Some of you guys on the ground know the reality much more. Nearly all the members of SIC are trapped. Jammeh knows none of them support him. If fact, some call him a Kafir. So all he is doing is force them to visit him at state house and they have no choice but to agree to his evil plans.
      Not long ago, we heard that Jammeh insulted the SIC President and accused him of not in support of him. Most of the SIC members pray to be free of Jammeh. We are in a serious situation. The SIC needs help to free them like all other institutions. The business sector is stifled and killed. All our best business brains have left the Gambia. So Jammeh’s last hurray is championing religion.

  2. Hydara , the mere fact that people consider jammeh as a joke or comedian on his outrageous comments is problematic in itself . We have to take him seriously and understand that whatever he said matters a lot in our daily lives . Jammeh’s ignorance and stupid comments should be a concern for all of us .
    Religious leaders are the most influential members of the society and these are very people jammeh corrupted early on his presidency . In our subregion , jammeh has corrupted many marabouts and religious leaders by given them a lot of money . 99 percent of prominent marabouts in the subregion has been corrupted by jammeh and have privately worked with him to oppress themselves or Gambians. The reason why jammeh has no respect for them is because he knew them very well . Our religious leaders have more influence than secular educated men and women . As we speak there are religious leaders and marabouts secretly working for jammeh .Gambia supreme Islamic council is open arm of jammeh’s propaganda machine . They are the very people who have access to radio and TV and secular educated selfish politicians . Their role as re-enforcers of community moral values through education has been lost by corrupt money . They also failed to give proper education to the population , hence it will be difficult to eradicate a tyrant when they continue to bless and do his propaganda . Most secular educated men depend on spiritual advise of religious leaders or marabouts , so if those religious leaders are corrupt and they do not stand for what is morally right then the rest of population will follow . Religious leaders are supposed to be men of moral values and spiritual guidance, therefore their moral decadence becomes serious consequences in terms of moral decline of the society . This is the problem of Gambian society . They are very people the Vice President will mobilize and to promote the agenda of the regime anytime there was a threat to jammeh’s presidency . It is time to publicly expose those who publicly support a tyrant . It is not only the job of opposition leaderships to expose these people but it is also responsibility of every Gambian to expose those who continue to contribute in political oppression of Gambian people .

    • Max, sometimes it is exaugurated the amount of money that goes to religious leaders. In fact, the vast majority of religious schools are self-funded and have never receive a dime from Jammeh. The number of clerics both Islam and Christain who associate with Jammeh is very negligible. Hence, we have to refrain from wider generalisation in matters like this.
      The reality is this, many secular educated youths in the past will rather sit on street corners instead of go out and vote. So what is important here is correcting the political problems. The average religious student will try to get a voters card and will motivate him/herself to vote. And if we make it out we are against them, they will obviously vote for Jammeh.
      I can tell you, the religious community have started distancing themselves from Jammeh. The fallout with Imam Fatty is a testament to that. They now privately refer to Jammeh as ‘Kafir’ hypocrite. Because he partake in idolatry rites in Kanilai. Let’s not loose a significant number of people who will bother to vote. Ask many secular school leavers, they will rather complain endless than take part in the political process.
      If you cannot correct the public space, am sorry the fallback position will be found wanting.
      Very few religious leaders even want to associate with Jammeh. No human being with sound mind want to belittle or ridicule. The trademark of Yahya Jammeh is ridicule, insult, belittle and abuse anyone he wants. He has insulted religious leaders and the like. So the top is rotten, am afraid the rest will be affected. Let us get everyone on board the moving wagon.

    • Scarlet Pimpernel

      Well said. That’s why when the Imam ratib came around, i catagorically refused to meet him let alone attend his prayer gathering. History will judge these people sooner or later. Just imagine the biggest weed smoker and Gin drinker in the Gambia who’s wife also likes to drink expensive alcohol imposing Islamic laws? Smh. Let them ask Yaya jammeh what was he drinking in 2006 after the failed coup attempt in his garden during a barbecue, whilst giving orders to arrest people.

  3. Suntou , I am not exaggerating any amount of money being given to religious leaders but it has been generally known that jammeh has corrupted many of the prominent religious leaders and marabouts in subregion just like Senegambia musicians were corrupted . The current NIA director Yankuba Badjie’s father, Pa Badjie of jeshwang near cooperative was the number one errand boy of jammeh’s marabout business in the region . This is how Yankuba Badjie became known to jammeh , he later came to USA with the help of jammeh before his brother yusupha Badjie . Yankuba Badjie later returned to Gambia when he was called by jammeh , today he is top intelligence officer of our country without any formal high education . Yankuba was a beneficiary of his father’s efforts in jammeh’s marabout business. I have seen three brand new Pajero’s in Dakar , Senegal which I was told was given to the most prominent marabout in Mauritania by jammeh . Each of these vehicles cost more than half a million dalasis at the time . This was around year 2000. In The Gambia , many prominent religious leaders / marabouts were corrupted by jammeh’s, this includes SIC members and prominent families which has religious background . Jammeh has learned from these people how to consolidate power through personal mystification and personality cult . As a result , he became aware of their secrets . It is true that many of Islamic schools were not funded by jammeh but some of the leadership of these schools are in jammeh’s pocket . Jammeh has invested a lot of money on these religious leaders and marabouts . Today he is in fight with them because they helped a tyrant to oppress our people . This is why one has to be careful what you pray or wish for . Many of the religious leaders who are in war with jammeh were his previous supporters . One observation about jammeh is that many of his victims are people who he knew personally , have worked with him and supported him . Jammeh/ religious leaders ( marabout ) war is a victory for the oppressed nation who were innocent target.
    If you have an agent in statehouse , please find out if jammeh wash his hands , feet and face with so called spiritual water at night which they used for cooking every day . This spiritual water was given to Jammeh by marabouts and whether it works or not , people who work at statehouse eat dirty food every day .

  4. Maxs wrote, “Religious leaders are supposed to be men of moral values and spiritual guidance, therefore their moral decadence becomes serious consequences in terms of moral decline of the society .” What an incontestable fact so succinctly put, I love it my brother.

  5. Marx , frankly speaking if you were on the ground and hear what people are talking about the SIC, you will be amazed how low they look at them. These people do not command any respect on the ground and to tell you the truth they even hide from people in the streets. They found themselves in a catch 22 situation and I pity them personally. What Suntou said is so true, when you meet these SIC leaders in private, they will tell how they hate Jammeh but unfortunately for them they are caught in Jammeh’s visual net and cannot back out unless kicked out by their boss. They are in a serious dilemma and are a tiny minority in a land of many. Again let me re-emphasize that Gambians do not watch GRTS, or listen to these notorious people so the impact you are fearing on people is not there.

  6. These conversations are very interesting. Full of fantasy and hallucinations. Are you guys going to standby and just see Jammeh win the election in December.

    Honestly, if I were an opposition I will rather be busy galvanizing the opposition party to unite to unseat Jammeh by hook or crook.

    Saying Jammeh is trying to divert people’s attention must be an understatement of ignorance. I mean, this is 21 year and people are still guessing what Jammeh is saying or thinking. Jammeh says what he means and mean what he says.

    • A diversion takes place when public attention/discourse is focused on issues that are of less significance to the people, than those of significance that may need urgent, undivided attention..

      Gambia’s problems are the ever rising cost of living, poor infrastructure and the rapid deterioration of rehabilitated roads, making life and travel almost impossible…

      I don’tthink there are many Gambians who worry about whether women cover their heads or not….Or whether people generally observe their daily prayers or fast the Ramadan….Is a directive going to establish prayers and fasting during office hours too..? These are more important in Islam than covering, I would assume..

  7. I know an idiot sometimes can make sense when you carefully listen to him ; I want to agree that jammeh “says what he means and he mean what he says “.
    The problem we have is that majority think he is a joke and never took him seriously until this day . For 21 years , Gambians are still learning who is jammeh . Whatever he says , we joke about it , thinking he does not know what he is doing .

  8. Bax and Max, you guys are just full of hate and you know where hate can lead someone to. I am laughing at your incoherent and full of senseless arguments.

    God created us mainly to worship Him. Al’Quran. Jammeh is God’s servant and he is out here to promote God’s religion. Is there anything more important than that. Only an idiot will think that.

    Max I may say you are the only Gambia who still don’t know Jammeh. In 1994, Jammeh clearly articulated what the Gambian people were yearning for.

    Today, education is accessible to the poorest of the poor. We have a university. Believe me, one reason I came to the West is to pursue higher education. I wish we had a university then. I would have never step my foot into this west full of hate and discrimination.

    Jammeh cannot be blamed for everything and if any one is thinking like that must be delusional. Diaspora needs to come together to develop our country regardless of Jammeh. Think what you can do for your country and not what your country can do for you. JFK.

    • Malang…..So talking about rampant abuses and rising cost of living is hate..?

      Do you know how much diaspora is putting in The Gambia in direct (recorded) and indirect (unrecorded ) remittances..?

      As we engage on this forum, villagers accused of being witches are either living in fear and terror, or reported to be abandoning their homes and seeking refuge in Cassamance, from the man you profess undying support for….

      You are just a waste of time, Malang…Better to leave you with your conscience, if you have any..

  9. Suntoumana once a person accepted to anointment, to responsibility of an imam, or a priest, etc, in services of God & truth; one has accepted responsibility, upon him & herself, to stand by truth, & against oppressive tyranny, theft, societal maladministration, & ALMUNAFIQISM in general….

    Where our so-called “venerable” imams, men & women of God FALTERED drastically, in their purported ACCLAIMED responsibilities, in services to NONE but God Himself, & to truth & humanity….

    All & every believer; in faith & religions; not only Muslims & Islam, know that God is always against misrule, theft & hypocritical armed banditry…..

    We all know Murderous kanilai Manipulative armed syndola Bandit is idolatrously devilish satanic, just like pharaoh, Ibliza otherwise Lucifer, etc; God never enabled “them” evil, & aid abet devilling, to ever succeed in destroying a people, community or society…???

    Our Murderous kanilai Idolatrous syndola Lucifer’s running out of tricks SOONER…??

    If any at all, the noose is tightening on the Murderous Oppressive kanilai Devilish Idolatrous syndola James’ neck, instead of Gambians’…?

  10. Malang , I don’t think you are with your senses . Any right thinking human being will not say words you have said about jammeh , that is “he is promoting Islam “. Jammeh is raining terror on his own people in Foni . I am sure you are one of those despicable son who will see your parent suffering without saying anything . The reason I said that to you because I have always believe that what I shouldn’t do to my parents , I don’t want to do or wish to do to someone else parents ; because I love my parents . If you have sympathy and love for your parents , you should equally have the same sympathy and love for those elders in Foni who are terrorized and committed no crimes. Remember that jammeh is terrorizing someone else father , mothers and Aunty at this hour in Foni . The hatred and discrimination you talked about is right at your birthplace , The Gambia where the idiot is raining terror on his fellow citizens , instill fear and hatred among the population . Pack your things and go back to Gambia if you don’t like west . Why are you living in Texas when the place Is full of hate and discrimination ? Go to kanillia where there is peace and happiness . You are mentally retarded and intellectually dishonest to say the least . If jammeh build a university or schools , why did he send his daughter Mariam jammeh to most expensive boarding school in USA paying $80,000 ( eighty thousand dollars a year ) at the expense of Gambian taxpayers . A closed minded individual will never learn ., you are a dangerous human being .

    • Max, no need to stress about Malang. He started on this forum pretending to be a neutral “on the fence” concerned Gambian. Everybody immediately saw through his hypocritical screen, and he had to come out to proclaim to be a “Jammeh supporter for life”, and probably an NIA provocateur.

      On a another note, the BBC is currently running a must watch programme on former Libyan dictator Moamar Ghadafi (Title is MAD DOG). When I saw the programme, I thought I was watching Yaya Jammeh without the petro dollars.

      I was both scared and yet hopeful. Scared that such a total lunatic could preside over a nation of 5 million people for so long, aided by the international hypocrisy that is always there to benefit from these abnormal situations. At the same time, I took solace in the fact that however long it may take, a miserable end is assured for such people.

      The pity is how many people will have to suffer and die before the madness is contained. Truly we have an onerous task on our hands to end this madness in our once beloved country.

  11. Malang failed to realise that North Korea too have universities where, probably, you can obtain the highest degrees in nuclear science and etc but North Koreans may still prefer to live within what is called a civil society. Malang definitely sounds cold and heartless.

  12. Empathy and respect for human dignity are essential characteristics of good human being. Those who lack these basic characteristics tend to be callous, evil and dishonest to their fellow human being The reason why we have human rights abuses and total impunity in our country is because people who carried out atrocities against their fellow citizens do not have empathy because they failed to put themselves in the place of their victims. Jammeh, Vice President and all the criminal thugs in the regime failed to have empathy and respect for human dignity. Looking at Vice President in particular, all her children are in USA, no one among them is going to bed thinking that my mom or dad has been missing, illegally detained, murdered or terrorized as witch. I hope Lâmin Saidy and others will call their mother to plead with them to have mercy on Gambian people. Please Lamin Saidy, it has being 22 years that your mother has been assisting the evil president to rain terror on your fellow citizens while you are living peacefully with your girlfriend at Washington state in the city of Bellingham, I am calling on you and anyone who has your parents in this dictatorial regime to reflect on the situation of Gambian people. How would you feel if you are the child of one those parents who are killed, disappeared, illegally detained for ten years or terrorized as witch. Each and everyone Gambian has a role to play to ensure that evil treatments of our fellow citizens has to stop and whether the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are our blood relatives or parents, we have to act and make a stop to it. So if you are reading my post, please sit quietly in your comfort place and reflect on our current predicament. Remember that the love your mother has for you is the same love or more those parents has for their children. Think about it.