Fighting President Jammeh’s Tyranny with Music

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Yahya JammehA popular music video featuring a group of artists taking aim at the president of the Gambia’s tightening grip on the West African country is making the rounds among Gambians home and abroad.

Musicians Xuman, Djily Bagdad, Tiat, and Ombre Zion accuse Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of despotism in the song titled “Against Impunity” published on YouTube, rapping in English and Wolof about the oppressive state of Gambian society under the hardliner’s thumb and encouraging Gambians to rise up. The video, which was released in December, has more than 26,000 views.

Since coming to power in 1994, President Jammeh’s poor human rights record has drawn steady criticism. Last year, he oversaw the execution of a number of prisoners in a short period of time, earning condemnation from the international community and human rights groups. He has also been accused of restricting political expression and press freedom, as well as persecuting homosexuals.

The video opens with one of the musicians, who wears a blue t-shirt that reads “No to violence against journalist,” singing the song’s chorus: “We have to handle our own destiny, so it’s the right time to fight against impunity”.

Later on in the video, one of the other artists raps:

Why leave our future in one man’s hands?
No rules at all, it’s like a no man’s land
Many been declared missing
Unsolved mysteries
The population running scared
Living in misery
Stand up for our rights
And let freedom ring
Let’s knock this dictator out of the ring

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Photo released under the GNU Free Documentation License by Wikipedia user JohnArmagh.

Praise was high for the video among viewers who commented about it on YouTube, and some even went as far as to accuse local Gambian musicians of cowardice for not writing similar songs to condemn President Jammeh’s documented human rights abuses. The artists in the “Against Impunity” video appear to be from the neighboring country of Senegal, not from the Gambia.

Ismaila Bahoum wrote on YouTube:

Nice song and if the Gambian can’t fight for himself he can have the Senegalese help not the Senegalese government [sic] but the Senegalese people, human right and even the artist. This video should be a shame for the Gambian artist, calling yourself patriot but you can’t fight for your country. At least if you do not fight, do not go about making songs to promote, and that is what Gambian artists do.

The video clip can be accessed on this link:

Courtesy of