One woman has got an axe to grind with President Yahya Jammeh for destroying the Jola brand.
In a very touching letter published below, Fatou Musukebba Tamba explains why Jola speaking people must not sit back and watch one man’s lust for power to soil the “good name our forefathers have lived with and passed on to us. You see, you have destroyed the name of our tribe so badly and I am angry with you. We Jolas are not violent people and therefore you should step down without delay. We all knew a lot of crimes have been committed,” wrote Fatou who at first brushed aside allegations of state sponsored murders. But the death in custody of Ebrima Solo Sandeng was enough for her to accept the reality.
May I first thank you for giving me space to write this open letter to Yahya Jammeh President of the Gambia.
Yahya Jammeh, my name is Fatou Musukebba Tamba. I am a Jola like you. I was born in Foni Arangkoli Kunda in the Foni Jarrol District. I am sure you must know me as amongst some of your former staunch loyal supporters since when I was in Kololi in Kombo North District. I am one of those Jolas who loves the Gambia and its peaceful nature so much that I see the Gambia beyond tribe and religion. At first, I and many like me thought other tribes hated your Presidency simply because you are not one of them. Oh my God! How wrong we were? But I have now realised the problem of the Gambia is none other than you Yahya Jammeh because I do not understand how you could insult an entire tribe to the extent of calling them virmins and foreigners? We Jolas have been living side by side with Mandinkas for decades without any problems. In fact, most Jolas are intermarried with Mandinkas and other tribes. What would happen if someone insult our tribe like you did to Mandinkas? I am sure all Jolas, including you would be angry. Therefore, all Jolas should openly condemn your insulting of other tribes, especially Mandinkas who have lived with Jolas for decades in peace and harmony.
But my worry is more on the alleged beating of people, the alleged rape of women and the horrendous killing of people. Yahya, I am a woman and to think of fellow woman being raped gives me sleepless nights and heart aches. The worst of it all was the confirmation that Ebrima Solo Sandeng died while under police custody. How could you allow such things to happen in the Gambia under your watch? What sort of precedence are you laying for us Jolas Yahya? I cannot imagine how a human being can look into the eye of a fellow human being and kill him/her for nothing other than having political difference with that person. How can politics be compared to human life? Yahya Jammeh, I am telling you this because I want a future for my children after you are gone. These allegations of tortures, rapes and killings are so un-Gambian that it is giving me unimaginable thinking spree as if I were the victims. What would happen if we or some of our tribesmen and women undergo such brutal tortures rape and killings? Remember you are not going to rule the Gambia forever. In fact, you would not be President in the next 20 years. Therefore, are you thinking about us Jolas and our security once you are gone? When I heard that a young man named Ebrima Solo Sandeng was tortured until he died, I cried like a baby. I thought of his wife and children because I am a woman. What if that happened to my father, Uncle, Husband or brother I know how I would feel?
On top of that killing, you used force to arrest so many elderly people, including Femi Peters. Yahya those people protested because they alleged that Ebrima Solo Sandeng was tortured, killed and buried [like a day.] Now that it has been confirmed that what they alleged was true, why are you still keeping them in prison for? Don’t you have conscience? You see, you have destroyed the name of our tribe so badly and I am angry with you. We Jolas are not violent people. You should therefore step down without delay. Jolas are peaceful people who do not know crime which is why we should not allow your Presidency to destroy that good name our fore fathers have lived with and passed on to us. We all knew a lot of crimes have been committed. At first I used to brush it aside when people accuse you and your government of killing so and so as mere allegations and their hatred of your administration, but when you confirmed that Mr. Sandeng indeed died during interrogations yourself. Yahya I nearly lost my head thinking, asking how could all those allegations about people being killed be true? Oh my God! Yahya you have completely tainted the Jola brand and you should step down right now. The Gambia is known for its peace and no peace-loving Gambian should simply support anyone who has admitted killing Gambians for whatever reason. People must not be killed for being in a different political party. What is party after all? How can mere party affiliations be compared to human life? On behalf of all peace-loving Jolas, I condemn your action and call on you to try and punish anyone found culpable in the death of Ebrima Solo Sandeng. I am not a UDP supporter but that does not mean I should close my eyes to murder. All human lives are equally important and killing is killing, no matter who commits it. You admitted to killing and therefore you should be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced accordingly.
If this is not done, I want all Jolas to come out and disassociate themselves with these crimes. Everyday has a tomorrow. What can we say when that tomorrow comes and we see our own Jolas people being killed like the way Yahya Jammeh is killing other tribe members? Step down now before you do more damage to us and our peaceful nature. We Jolas are peace-loving people, and all these crimes you are committing are not done in our name. You are committing them in your own name because of your hunger for power, despite serving more than 20 years in office. Enough is enough! Go before you endanger our lives too. We don’t want any Civil War in the Gambia and the longer you stay, the more likely the Gambia could descend into civil war. When that happens, where would we Jolas go to? Only a fool would believe we can fight against any tribe in the Gambia even with all the guns. The Jola tribe is not diversely scattered but concentrated in one small area of Foni. Even Kombo alone can finish us in one day. Let my fellow Jolas come out and condemn this man and what he is doing to us and the future of our children. He must go now without delay. Yahya Jammeh, you need to step down right now.
Fatou Musukebba Tamba
Thanks sister. Gambians know that yaya is just a bad element whose greed for power has no limits. Don’t forget we jolas have also lost a lot of people to his brutality.
Respect madam fatou.
Well said Fatu Musukebba Tamba.
Very well said Madam Tamba, but do not feel one sense of guilt, as a Jola, for Yaya Jammeh’s crimes, because we ALL know that he is not doing it in your names…
We have lived with Jolas for as long as we know ourselves..We are a nation of mixed breeds…Hardly, any indigenous Gambians can trace their lineage three to four generations, without finding all of the major tribes in it somewhere…Tribe, really, should be a thing of the past, or at least, be relegated to the bottom of our priorities.
I think when he talked about “wiping ” or sending the Mandinkas back to Mali, he categorically implied his motive is to defend the Jolas from Mandinka arrogance AND correct the historical wrongs supposedly meted to them by the Mandinka domination respectively.
Hence it is right that Mrs Tamba and all Jola take the stage and distance themselves from these incitements. We know that even though the architects of the Rwandan genocide were only out to preserve their own aggrandisement, they nevertheless manipulated the sensitivities of the Hutus (alleges of Tutsis supremacy and arrogance) to achieve and galvanize the Hutu for the mayhem.
Today the Hutu have not only failed to achieve the goal of exterminating the Tutsis, but will have to live with the stigma that they are collectively held responsible for the atrocities perpetrated in their name.
Jammeh is a lunatic Gambian who could have belonged to any other cultural or traditional identity. Yaya Jammeh all the while, as far as I am concerned, is a mad jealous hypocrite who found himself in the country’s highest civil servant position by mistake. Jolas are wonderful people equally like all of the wonderful cultures of the Gambia. What distinguishes Gambians in the public environ is their state of mind and that is their abilites and will power to be honest, steadfast and to be of a civil society mindset.
In a nutshell, I would say Yaya Jammeh is a hypocrite and vice in contrast to the wonderful Jola culture.
Thanks Sister and I think we should be rest assured that a lunatic cannot change the way Gambians embrace each other whatever the stumbling blocks in their way may be.
It is good that sister Fatou speak up , however Mandinkas are facing existential threat in The Gambia as evident by Jammeh’s continued attack on the majority tribe while positioning his tribe in all the most important positions in our security apparatus. This is a threat we must look at very carefully. The mere fact that he appointed his tribe men in all state top security positions is itself a threat to our national security and most importantly to Mandinkas who he singled out as foreigners in our country .
I call on jola people to denounce and repudiate Jammeh so that everyone will know that majority of Jola people did not support his divisive rhetoric .
I totally agree @Max that Fatou has done a good thing to speak out against the state of terror and atrocities. I just want to commend her like any other Fula, Mandinka, Jola, Aku, saranhule, Bainunka, Manjaako etc. etc. who may have been a supporter of Yaya Jammeh to end up condemning and exposing his bloodiness.