The senior wife of the Gambia’s convicted leader of the opposition United Democratic Party has spoken volumes about her husband, revealing his untold story. Maimuna Ndure-Darboe, a former educationist, remains loyal and thankful to “a husband who had never made us cry.” Mrs Darboe who delivered the heavyweight statement at Pipeline said the UDP leader knew he would be sentenced.
Find below the translated version of Maimuna’s speech delivered in Mandinka and Wolof.
I payer that God accept our fasting and prayers, release those in detention, deliver justice, solve our many problems and advance our wishes.
Fellow Gambians, you all know that Yahya Jammeh’s 1994 coup d’etat mantra was based on transparency, accountability and probity. This was what he had been singing to our ears. I’m asking Gambians to tell me what is transparent in Yahya Jammeh’s leadership or government. You’ve all seen him on national tv dishing out money on Senegalese artists and athletes. He is not telling us where he is getting these monies. He should tell Gambians where he’s got the money because Gambian schools lack basic needs; we’ve had just two rains and our capital becomes inaccessible. At least Yahya Jammeh should have used these monies to equip our hospitals and schools. Yahya Jammeh accused the Jawara government of corruption and flamboyancy, calling its officials Dirimos [thieves]. But it’s now clear to all Gambians that Yahya is the real Dirimo. He’s become more flamboyant and wasteful than anyone else. Former President Sir Dawda used to travel with a commercial plane while Jammeh and family travel with his (Jammeh’s) own plane. Yahya Jammeh used taxpayers money to buy this plane, yet he refused to tell them how much money was spent on its buying as well as it’s maintenance and operational costs. Gambians deserve to know.
Yahya Jammeh says he sympathises with Gambian farmers. Let’s ask what he has done for Gambian farmers. He’d just concluded meet-the-people’s tour which he used to haul insults on our parents, women and others. One would have expected his government to seize such an opportunity to supply Gambian farmers with seeds and fertilisers.
Yahya Jammeh says he loves and sympathises with Gambian women. If that’s the case, why does he inflict torture and pain on Duta Kamaso [former APRC National Assembly Lawmaker], Lawyer Mariam Dention, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumata Jawara, Fatou Camara, among others. These women [Fatoumata, Nogoi and Fatou] teamed up with their leader Solo Sandeng to hold a peaceful protest calling for electoral reform. Yahya Jammeh put in place the age limit and electoral adjustments all because he fears only one Gambian, and that’s my husband Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. He knows Gambians love Darboe. Solo, Lang Marong, and others had no weapon in their hands when they were holding a peaceful protest on April 14th; all they wanted was to be heard. They planned to protest peacefully until they reached the Independent Electoral Commission and hand over a letter to IEC officials; these peaceful protesters were arrested at West Field before being escorted to the PIU, Mile 2 and then to NIA where they were mercilessly beaten. An insider source at the NIA informed Ousainou that Solo died of brutal torture and that Fatoumata, Nogoi and Fatou were in coma, battling for survival. He received the news on Friday night. This was litte after 10 pm. Those who say Ousainou is scared do not know him. He does things at the right time. He takes his time, he’s never in a hurry. He summoned an emergency executive meeting. He knew Solo was killed unjustly for nothing other than exercising his basic right. Ousainou said what was he waiting for when a young man like Solo died for his county. The UDP leadership and supporters started the peaceful protest here holding each other’s hands. They had nothing in their hands except the Gambian flag. They were asking for Solo that to be produced dead or alive. These people were arrested some minutes later. The question becomes why the government is holding Ousainou Darboe and others after confirming that Solo died in state custody.
But the whole world now knows there is no truth, justice and rule of law in the Gambia. It’s a case that is not guided by law. Hawa Sisay Sabally told the judge that counts 5 and 6 should be transferred to the Supreme Court for interpretation because this is a matter of law. The judge cannot make a ruling on it. because there is no law in the Gambia. Jammeh has interest in goes according to his will. No one matters in Yaya Jammeh’s Gambia. Ousainou and others cannot discuss privately with their lawyers without the presence of security. The lawyers got frustrated and walked. The first thing she should have done was to ask ousainou whether they needed a lawyer. She didn’t but want to impose on him to defend himself. He told the judge that he could not involve in a preconviction case. During the last sitting, he told the judge that judges in Nigeria protected the rights of Nigerians but you came here to deny Gambians justice and rights. I’m not going to defend myself. I’ll defend myself when you convict me.
Yaya Jammeh’s statement that he sympathises and loves Gambians is a fake. His wife is a non Gambian. If he loves Gambian women, his government would not have tortured Duta Kamaso, Mariam Denton, Sarjo Kunjang Sandeng, Fatoumata Jawara, Nogoi Njie, and Fatou Camara. The one who sympathises with women transfered them to Janjanbureh prison. Their relatives saw them and brought them food while in Mike 2. But they are now detained incommunicado and denied urgent medical attention. The day these women had appointment was the day they rushed them to Janjanbureh. I was in Mansakonko and saw their appalling health condition. It culd be worse if they don’t get the medical attention. I am scared of their condition. I discussed their situation with their lawyers who briefed the DDP. But the state keeps adjourning their doctor’s appointment without any justifiable reason.
Yaya Jammeh says he sympathises with farmers. But what has he done for farmers. He concluded his tour which has been punctuated with insults. He should have given farmers fertiliser and seeds but he chose to cloud with insults. With all the difficulty in farming, farmers struggle to sell their produce. Often their produce will be put on credit and in most cases, they are already soaked in debt when their money arrives.
Yaya said Sir Dawda was not good for the youths. But Gambian youths suffer and become confused in Jammeh’s era. They have no jobs and resort to the backway as their only hope. Yaya Jammeh is not sympathetic to the youths; he said youths have not seen anything because all of them will perish at sea. Most of them have perished at sea already. They will prefer to stay if there are job opportunities for them in the country, they will not go anywhere.
Yaya Jammeh said on national tv that his mother is a worthy marriage material, which is why his great grandchildren will not be poor.
Yaya forgets that all power belongs to Allah. The office he occupies is a public office which invites criticism. People will criticise him if he doesn’t do the right thing. Anyone who occupies that office will be subject to public scrutiny. Yaya doesn’t want any criticism; anyone who comes after him will face similar consequences. People will criticise him if he does not do the right. I want him to know that Ousainou is not his enemy but only his opponent. his enemies are his Jungulars who kill for his interest and those around him who do not tell him the truth. Let him know that Allah does not sleep and that his verdict will come. That God does not want transgression. God knows all that is happening. Insahllah (God willing), Allah’s verdict is on the way.
I’m telling Gambians that Ousainou Darboe is an upright person, a person who values and respects human dignity; he does not want injustice. He resigned as the administrator of Curator; he was asked to tweak the law but refused an order from his boss. His boss was so annoyed with him and asked why Ousainou embarrassed in the presence of everyone else. Darboe asked why his boss would ask him in public. Ousainou went to work but was denied files; he sat on an empty desk. He resigned.
Upon hearing the news, Sir Dawda called Ousainou to state house and wanted him to wait until he completed investigation. But Ousainou said he is a free bone who cannot tweak his words. He said he would come back to work for the government – perhaps in a different role. What I’m saying is the fact because Sir Dawda is still alive.
Ousainou praised me and Sally for standing by him during this very challenging time. But I think we are the ones who should praise a husband who has never put tears on our cheeks. Throughout our marriage with him, Ousainou stood by us in times of good and bad. We cannot therefore such a husband. Only Allah can pay him. As the saying goes: “goodness must be rewarded with goodness.” Ousainou we stand by you. You’ve prepared us that you’d be locked up. Whatever the case, we’re proud of you and we’ll stand by you and your colleagues who want to uplift suffering for every Gambians, including women, youths and elders. By god willing in the end it will be ok for you. Yaya Jammeh should know that the power he is abusing belongs to the people. Gambians have had their eyes opened. We have seen skyrocketing of basic food. Opposition is only your opponent but not your enemy. Let him know that those who torture for him are his enemies. Isatou Njie-Saidy and the cabinet ministers are your enemies. They should have advised you but they say differently about you in your behind. If the cabinet wants truth to prevail they should advise you on your thuggery. They clap for you in the open but do different thing in the background. Do you ask how your secrets get leaked to the online media. Those working with you are the ones leaking them. Your problem is that those working for you are the one who do not want anything good for you and the country.
If you hear my speech, I want to offer you a piece of advice. A lot of people languish in remand wing for years. Some of them have not appeared in court for so many years. Some of them are sick but are denied medical access to healthcare services. I asked whether you will like Mariam and Zeinab to be in the shoes of Fatoumata, Nogoi and Fatou. Bring these women to Kombo and get medical help before you’ll regret for not doing the right thing.
Thank you Mrs Ndure-Darboe. The perpetrators think we are all hypocrites and opportunists, and wouldn’t stand for our own people in times of great sacrifice like these days. But in our midst are many with conscience and a devotion to see Darboe freed and Solo’s remains brought back to his family. The Darboe or Sandeng family are not alone in this. I have been to many gatherings called as a reaction to this illegal verdict. There is too much anger and that is already a good thing going forward. We may look toothless right now, but the new found comradeship and realisation that the threat lingers around all of us, makes it easy to mobilise the people for the trials ahead.
What is more powerful and trustworthy than the story of a spouse. Former US president Bill Clinton has just made a good case for his wife which has proven to be the best description of Hillary Clinton. Mai Ndure is a heroine who stood for her husband during this trying time. I can see the image and spirit of Winnie Makazella Mandela in her.
May Allah bless you for standing by well respected husband. I hope all Gambian women will emulate her. Every support and solidarity for these wrongly convicted leaders matters but that of their spouses and family supersede all.