It was the darkest day in the history of my Central River Region village of Sami. As soon as he arrived at the village “bantaba”, Major Momodou Bojang disrespectfully raised his foot and placed it on the village bantaba, vowing to deal with any villager who opposed the military junta turned civilian leader Captain Yahya Jammeh. Bojang came with soldiers from the Kudang Barracks. This was sometime in 1996 when a ban on politics was lifted. Under the instruction of Yahya Jammeh and under direct supervision of Commissioner Bojang, armed soldiers arrogantly and rudely arrested and subsequent tortured some elderly villagers, including the late 80-year-old Alkalo Bakey Ceesay at the Janjanbureh prisons. Their only crime was that they were sympathizers of the opposition United Democratic Party, something unacceptable to Yahya Jammeh and Momodou Bojang. These arrestees were ruthlessly and sadistically tortured. Upon his release, the old man died few days later mainly because he could not sustain the torture, pains and humiliation meted out to him by then powerful Commissioner Momodou Bojang in front of his villagers. He was a great man. A noble man and a great hunter. He died a dignified man while Major Momodou lives peacefully in exile in Wisconsin, United States. The torturer soldiers are also living in peace parambulating on the streets in the Gambia.
I had a special chat with my dad while on holiday. It was painful to listen to him as he explained his ordeal. For the first time I could see fear, anger and resignation written on his face when he talked about the mistreatment of Commissioner Momodou Bojang. I tried to console him to let by-gones be by-gones and avoid anything that weakens his strength. But he repeatedly complained about the inhumane arrest, detention and torture of Alkalo Ceesay.
Like most Gambians, I must admit that I too at the time supported the junta. I later realised how naive I was.
What more could I offered my dad other than appealing to him to keep away from politics entirely. But years down the line I realise that these people are the real heroes who understand the Gambia’s political landscape more than me. As the arrests and tortures continue over the years, I becomes common knowledge that we have a demon at the highest office. I started to speak out against Jammeh’s lawlessness and brutality.
My message to the former Commissioner Bojang is to come out of his current comfort zone in Wisconsin and apologise to the villagers of Sami for wrongdoing them by beating their elders for merely exercising their political rights. He should offer special apology to the family of the late Alkalo. Despite abusing the powers of your position to rain insults on our elders, the people of Sami will find place in their hearts to forgive you when you apologise for your wrongdoing.
In conclusion, we look forward to seeing again our my village. This time around on an apology mission.
By A Concerned native of Sami