Despite dictator Yaya Jammeh’s open hatred for Mandinkas in general, Gambian leader has great penchant for Madinka marabouts or spiritualists, paying them regular visits. He visits marabouts within the Gambia and the sub-region to protect the crown as well as excel politically. Mr. Jammeh thinks his political survival depends on these spiritualists. Who would have thought that dictator Jammeh would ride on a motorcycle in April this year from Jangjanbureh, the regional capital of Central River Region while on his “Meet The People Tour” where he spent 3 nights, to Senegal. It was one of these nights that dictator president dressed in a white windbreaker jacket with a guide, crossed the Jangjangbureh-Lamin Koto ferry terminal and took the Lamin Koto-Passimass feeder road and passed through Niani Karantaba, then to Sami Madina where he branched off through the porous border bush roads to Sandu Manna in Senegal to visit a venerable Mandinka marabout called El-Hadj Yirra SaidyKhan (Senegalese shortened it to Khan).
Visiting Sandu Manna, one has to pass through Sambangaye where residents witnessed seeing Yaya Jammeh on a motorcycle that night. In the same village of Sambagaye, dictator Jammeh lured a great female marabout, also a Mandinka to visit him in Banjul. The marabout, Fanta Saidykhan, who receives large number of visitors from Gambia, the two Guineas and Senegal refused to answer the dictator’s invitation. Has Jammeh forgotten that Fanta too is a Mandinka who felt offended by his insults and threats?
All was not good for Jammeh when he finally had encounter with El-Hadj Yirra who confronted the brutal Gambian leader for betraying Daba Marena, the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, who disappeared along with other military officers while in state custody. With fury written all over his body, the marabout asked Jammeh why he had killed Daba Marena. The grand marabout reminded him (dictator Jammeh) that it was the late Daba Marena who introduced him (Yaya Jammeh) to him (the marabout). It was at this juncture that Jammeh fell on his knees and apologized to the old man. He didn’t stop there but went ahead to lie to the marabout saying there were people who threatened to kill Daba in Banjul and that he Jammeh decided to send him overseas to escape the wrath of the unknown potential killers. While posturing and kissing the old man’s feet, dictator Jammeh promised him that he will produce Daba upon arrival in Banjul after the tour. Nothing has been heard of Jammeh regarding the fate of Daba Marena since he left the marabout’s place that night.
Jammeh left Sandu Manna disappointed and disowned man. He was scared for seeing a man capable of destroying him getting angry at him. El-Hadj Yirra angrily told Jammeh that “whatever prayers I had performed for you in the past was the will of God.” He however vowed never to perform any special prayers for Mr. Jammeh as he never thought he was capable of inflicting such a heinous crime on a loyal intelligence chief.
The April visit had closed a chapter on the spiritual relationship between El-Hadj Saidykhan and dictator Yaya Jammeh.