Gambian nonconformists across Africa, Europe and America have dotted Monday 26 January 2015 as a day of hailing their fallen heroes who met their untimely demise during the Banjul failed coup on 30th December 2014 and most importantly to unequivocally decry Africa’s most heinous dictator-President Jammeh- who continues to unapologetically disregard the due process with impunity. The UK based Gambians protest against Dictator Jammeh’s brutality in front of the Parliament Building, Westminister Abbey; London is a full house success. It locked steps in closed order with a week-long memorial tribute of the fallen heroes whose departed souls received immense prayers from all callers and donors. Funds were also raised in support for their loved ones particularly spouses and siblings. Some of the funds raised will equally be used to subsidise legal fees for Cherno Njie and Papa Faal who are standing trial in America for their alleged involvement in the Banjul failed coup.
The week-long “Memorial Tribute to the Martyrs” was collectively structured and co-ordinated by Solicitor Yankuba Darboe, Bamba Sering Mass, Demba Baldeh, Momodou Krubally, Lamin Tunkara, Fatou Camara, Banka Manneh, Ndey Jobarteh, Sigga Jagne, Yusupha Cham, Omar Joof, Coach Pa Samba Jaw, Pata PJ, Juka, Omar Bah, Ousainou Mbenga, and Nanama Keita. All programmes were jointly aired by Faturadio, Gainako, Banjul focus, Jollofnews, Kibaaro and Gambia Daily online radios. Its objective was to pay homage to the gallant freedom fighters who forsake all worldly gains, pleasures and their priceless buoyant young lives to liberate the Gambia from the shackles of a vicious tyrant. One of the greatest landmarks of the memorial was knitting together the broken pieces of the struggle. Shortly after it was confirmed that President Jammeh has returned to Banjul and captioned the freedom fighters as terrorists, the struggle suffered a denting blow under its belt. Radio Kankan broke from hell and the devil reign for a while. As usual, voices of reason stepped in and restored normalcy.
The London demonstration was the brainchild of Bamba Sering Mass and Solicitor Yankuba Darboe both siblings of the Kibaaro family. Pa Modou Bojang, Kibaaro Radio manager, who covered the event live for Kibaaro radio described the turnout as the “largest ever held in London”. He went on to reveal that demonstrators want to reclaim the Gambia from its dictator and restore democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech. He cited examples where freedom of assembly is a no go area for any Gambian but supporters of the Dictator. Opposition supporters are persecuted for assembling without police permit. The highly determined protestors defied the cold English weather and stood their ground a stone throw from 10 Downing Street chanting, “We are human beings too. End dictatorship now. Yahya Jammeh must go. The killing must stop. Yahya Jammeh is the terrorist“. Amidst the defiant demonstrators was Ebrima Ismaila Chongan, a true son of the Gambia to the core. Introducing him to Pa Modou, Bamba described Chongan as a Gambian household name who was the only service chief he stood and resisted the 1994 military junta. Mr Bojang began by asking him why they were demonstrating.
“We are demonstrating for the obvious reasons, that is, the things happening in our country-the Gambia where there is democratic deficit. We want to see democracy and the rule of law restored in the Gambia so that everybody will have an equal say in the affairs of the state. We are also looking for the opposition parties in the Gambia to work together in order to have three conditions: 51% constitution mandate for election victory, equal access to the media by all parties and a vibrant free and fair electoral process. Moreover, to have free and fair elections and anybody who wins is respected. But what is happening now is obvious. No one can say anything. There is no freedom of expression. That is all we are asking for. We are Gambians and we have a right. Furthermore, we in the diaspora should also have a vote”, Chongan accentuated.
“How will this demonstration achieve these lofty ideals?” Pa Modou tested Chongan. “This demonstration aims to showcase to our compatriots who are in the Gambia that we have to fight for our freedom of expression. We have seen recently in Sri Lanka which used to have a very strong man as a leader who was defeated through the ballot box. So we can also do it in the Gambia if only the opposition comes together. Right now what is paramount is not a leadership issue, that is, who will lead the opposition but coming together as a precondition to demand real conditions for free and fair election”, he emphasised.
“Do you hope this can be achieved by this demonstration?” Mr Bojang further challenged the veteran nonconformist and former police chief. “This demonstration raises awareness so that our people become conscious and take control of their own destiny. Before Gambians, even those in the diaspora, were afraid to grace protests against the Banjul tyrant but now a lot of those who were scared are coming out in great numbers. Look at the crowd. It delivers awareness to the doorsteps of Gambians and friends of the Gambia on what is happening in the Gambia”, asserted Chongan.
Other prominent speakers include a female protestor and solicitor Kabirou Darboe. “We want Yahya Jammeh to go. We don’t need him. He does not belong to a peaceful country like the Gambia. Britain must act”, she demanded. Solicitor Darboe was first quizzed to state his reason for demonstrating. “The reasons why we are here is no secret especially when it comes to the Gambia”, he began and continued to add, “We have a terrible situation in the Gambia. The situation is very close to that of Hitler’s Germany. Albeit the Gambian one is yet to cross its breaking point, the conditions are heinous. We are not exaggerating anything here”. “Are you convinced that Banjul is aware of the demonstration in London?” queried Mr Bojang. “Well, it is already there. Honestly, it is there. I was listening to Faturadio this morning and people in the Gambia were sending messages and calling to enquire when is the demonstration starting in London. They are listening and keeping an eye on what is happening. They cannot do it over there. They are depending on us. This is precisely why I always maintain that when you live in the diaspora and you fail to appear on such protests; you are not only letting down yourself but also your people and country. I hope Britain will use this to show the Gambia government that her people are not happy”, solicitor Darboe stated.
Finally, Pa Modou asked if Solicitor Darboe thinks Britain will emulate America in declaring the Gambia as a friendly nation. “No”, he replied without mincing words. “I don’t think so. Britain will never do that. Britain has always shown many times its disapproval of the dictatorship in Banjul. Removing their embassy in Banjul speaks volume. Our relationship is no longer what it used to be. It is now a mere marriage of convenience. Britain will never call Gambia a friendly nation under a dictator’s captainship. Even though America did, it is but a diplomatic rhetoric. America is not projecting to the world that it is in love with the Gambia but just to tell the world that they are not at war with the Gambia. However, America should be mindful of her choice of words when talking about dictators like Jammeh who is constantly craving for America’s recognition and acceptance”.