I will be remiss if I fail to acknowledge a significant milestone in my immediate family before tackling the subject matter at hand. My Grandmother for whom I was named for passed away onAugust 8th. Yesterday, Friday, September 16th we observed her fourty-day charity. May ALLAH SWT ease Her Barzak and grant Her Jannah on the day of reckoning. Aaameen Ya Rabb! It has been a period of grief and mourning for me yet at the end of the day, we thank ALLAH SWT for blessing us with such a Great Gift. My Grandma clocked 107 years. SubhanALLAH!
Kindly allow me some space in your paper to share some thoughts with regard to Ousman Manjang’s appeal for the release of Sajo Jallow and the uncalled for vicious attacks on Manjang in the guise of ideological critique.
Ousman Manjang did what he felt his conscience dictated for him to do….to stand up by Sajo Jallow and his distraught family in our moment of pain. Ousman Manjang is an upright man. A man who can easily defend himself on the choices/decisions he makes.
I first met Ousman Manjang in the winter of November 1985 in Sweden. Ironically, we (Dumo Sarho, Sajo Jallow and myself were just arriving in Sweden as political refugees fleeing political persecution from the PPP government of Sir Dawda K. Jawara. That shall be a span of 31 years this year.
Ousman Manjang has heart as he has brains. He is one of the smartest people I am happy to know and feel blessed to respectfully call Suma Magji! That affection, love and respect is shared to an even greater degree by Sajo Jallow. A bond not borne out of “emotive sensibilities” but a bond tested and proven by a shared ideology whose mantra reads:
“In order to build social movements with the capacity to carry out the task of social emancipation, there is a need to organize around the material needs of the people.” That is one of the instances where Sajo Jallow excels being “more instrumental (than anyone else for that matter) in the transfer of millions of Gambian dalasi of project funds from a couple of aid organisations in Sweden to Gambian workers in the early 1990s”. That desire and concrete work to transform lives continues to this day whether somebody sitting in Sweden knows about it or not. For Sajo Jallow is not a man who blows his own trumpet. The testimony comes from Ousman Manjang, who is a first-hand witness to the unfolding success stories that those millions generated and continue to this very moment. The beautiful story of GAMSEM (Gambians for Self-Employment), The Tanjay women’s cooperative selling fish, Bee-keepers in Brikama and the Carpenters and Masons Associations in Jarra Soma and Basse. Sajo Jallow could have siphoned some of those funds for personal aggrandisement, material enrichment but guess what, up to the last butut was audited and accounted for, leaving Sajo Jallow not a Dalasi richer. The man does not even own a mud house, the reason why he is today renting at the Vice President’s house in Kerr Sereign where he was abducted in the morning of Friday September, 2nd , 2016.
I will re-iterate that Ousman Manjang is an upright man. A man with principles, a truthful and honest man. A man who can take a position and defend it without maligning others, alienating them or hatching conspiracies. Ousman Manjang has a conscience standing tall. In presenting political pluralism within MOJA-G, he was to my understanding, simply stating the facts. That in MOJA-G, we debated issues and there was no physical or mental coercion in persuading divergent views. You may have your Trotskyite leanings and another is allowed their support of Vo Nguyen Giap whereas your spouses maybe non-political. But at the end of the day, the foci was on bringing lasting democracy to The Gambia and transforming the lives of ordinary Gambians.
Talking about spouses, the fact is the Mr. Momodou Sidibeh taking the moral high ground here was beating his wife purple black at the time but he was not suspended from the Movement. The sad thing being he was not alone. Wife-beating is not MOJA’s political ideology and their actions did not mean MOJA-G was a group of extra-terrestrial misogynists visiting from planet Neanderthal. Yes, we had wife-beaters and
Mr. Sidibeh was No.1 on that list yet nobody expelled him based on his violent behaviour unworthy of a revolutionary activist. Appeals were made and comrades counselled to exercise restraint and behave as they preach. That marital dictatorship where wives are literally struggling for justice and freedom from domestic violence, battery and repression does not tell well on a movement portraying itself as progressive. So, yes, while Mr. Sidibeh’s theoretical and or ideological ramblings about binaries—tyranny vs. democracy, good vs. evil etc., may be appealing to the casual reader, his own reprehensible history of domestic violence against a defenseless wife feeds well into that narrative as its exact antithesis. So which Mr. Sidibeh do we believe—the diabolical wife beater; an unprincipled reactionary dweeb masquerading as a progressive or the one supposedly crying foul over systemic usurpation of women’s rights in The Gambia?
The MOJA-G that Manjang meant was a movement where there were no personality cult or hero-worshiping. That we were brought up to think differently, analytically and with conscience. Any honest person will clearly see that Manjang made no misrepresentation, but simply stated a fact, the very same reason why Sajo Jallow could not beat me to sing the APRC song. Sajo Jallow was never a wife-beater. The same reason why Mr. Sidibeh can seek Mr. Manjang’s opinion on his so-called ideology critique and get an ok to go ahead and publish it. That is the beautiful political pluralism in MOJA-G Manjang was talking about; one foreign to those who abducted Sajo Jallow because I am a member of the UDP. But the feeble-minded would never embrace the true picture. They restrict themselves to what suits their interest in bringing down Sajo Jallow and all of us. Even if that means questioning Manjang’s integrity and giving others the chance to insult and call him names.
I, (Jainaba Bah, Mrs. Jallow) have never been a member of the AFPRC/APRC. Did I support Jammeh when he came to power? Yes, I did, even though people like Zaya Yebo advised against it. My support for Jammeh died with the establishment of the facts that he was responsible for the April 2000 student massacre which Mr. Sidibeh highlighted in his commentary.
Before Sajo Jallow accepted his first appointment from Jammeh as Minister of Works, Information and Communication, he sought counsel from some of the MOJA-G leadership and he got their blessing, that it was ok to go and serve country. Which he did in a benevolent manner and was never involved or collaborated in any human rights abuses.
Sajo is never an apologist. Here is a man who can defend himself anytime, anywhere if given the opportunity. Sajo Jallow continued his good works of the 90s. The Kombo Coastal road was completed under his watch as Works and Communication Minister. He built The Gambia’s first ever and so far State of the Art Chancery in Addis Abeba with staff headquarters on land offered by the Ethiopian government thereby saving millions of Dalasis for The Gambia that would have gone to pay rent for decades to come. That land and Chancery is ours, it belongs to us Gambians. He worked hard to get Ethiopian Airlines to carry Gambian pilgrims to Hajj. He negotiated and helped row home the funding for the Trans-Gambia Bridge-Barrage project. Unfortunately, Yaya Jammeh announced freezing the implementation of that project. In December 2013 and January 2014 when most people were celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with their families and loved ones, he was part of the delegation under Jammeh’s Chairmanship negotiating for a cease fire in South Sudan between Salva Kirr Mayardit and Riek Machar in Banjul. Diplomatically, fighting for the people of South Sudan to have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with their families and loved ones. Anybody who watched GRTS would attest to that fact as we all are aware of Jammeh’s penchant for self-glorification when doing laudable work.
To Ousman Manjang:
All those whom I shared your appeal with, the response was a unanimous applause. Some wept with me, including my sisters. When others shut down their phones to be unreachable, out of fear, indifference or both, you opted for the least popular and unconventional, knowing deep in your heart of hearts, Sajo Jallow would have never hesitated to do the same for you. This purity of intention and fearless upright stance is what made people share your appeal knowing that you have given your assurance…it is ok to be published.
Even though you made the appeal on behalf of Sajo Jallow, what came out at the end is the upright and true comrade, brother and friend you are…A fearless human-being without pretense, ambiguity or two-faced hypocrisy. Even though it is easy for some to chorus the fabricated and malicious venom being spewed, the Majority out there would want to associate with and have you as a friend!
Thank You Suma Magji, Ousman Manjang.
With Love & Respect!