President Yahya Jammeh has rained at least D260, 000 on the Gambia’s kora musician Jalikebba Kuyateh.
The money was presented to the beneficiary on behalf of the President by his Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, at her offices, in Banjul. It is earmarked to help the musician develop himself as a Kora player and also complement his efforts in the music field; but was that the real reason?
It could be recalled that Gambian musicians have been praise singing President Jammeh since he came to power in 1994, despite throwing punches at them for being part of the Jawara regime’s problems. Jammeh however took a dramatic twist on musicians and has since invested heavily on musicians in both the Gambia and neighboring Senegal.
Until recently, Jammeh’s critics accused him of showering taxpayer’s money on Senegalese musicians while snubbing local ones. Senegalese musicians – Ucass, Thione Seck, Titi and Viviene Ndure – all benefited from President Jammeh’s generosity. Jaliba Kuyateh, the Gambia’s kora laurette, was reportedly frustrated by President Jammeh’s lukewarm attitude toward local musicians, which was why he had composed conciliatory songs like “Yaya Jammeh Babili Mansa” [Yaya Jammeh bridge building king].
It’s also believed that Jaliba went extra mile to appease Jammeh after his Babili track failed to attract Jammeh’s maximum attention. Observers believed that Jaliba came up with hakutu mass ni nye itonye isi yan fungma [forgive me if I have offended you].
But now the Gambian leader seems to be opening his Allah’s Bank account to Gambian musicians by his recent donation. However, this does not seem to be the case that Mr Jammeh had donated the said amount for the assistance of the Kora musician or that of a complement for his efforts, but rather a sinister political ploy or publicity stunt to portray the Gambian leader as a godly sent Samaritan and musicians and their faithful fans.
The following was how the story was reported by Jammeh’s owned Daily Observer. It reported that “in handing over the money, VP Njie-Saidy applauded the president for complementing Jali Kebba’s efforts, saying that the president normally doesn’t forget all the good deeds people do for him.“He remembers what you have done and decides to reward you for it,” she said. She reminded the gathering that the president does give a lot noting that some are done publicly while others are done privately. She also used the opportunity to expressed her deep sorrow to Kuyateh over his burnt vehicle.
VP Njie-Saidy acknowledged that Kuyateh never demands for payment whenever she goes on tour with the APRC. “You love the president and the APRC and the president has not forgotten you,” she assured him. She finally commended the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) for implementing the copyright laws in music and urged all musicians in the country to unite behind the Centre.
Tourism and Culture Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie extolled Jalikebba Kuyateh’s unquestionable loyalty to the APRC and the Gambian leader. She praised Kuyateh for being part of all the party’s tours without ever asking for payment. “He is a kind of singer who is interested in national development,” Minister Jobe said.
On his part, Kuyateh thanked President Jammeh for the gift, saying his actions were motivated by his unflinching love for President Jammeh regardless of money.
“He came in a generation of mine and I will follow him and all those who follow him as well,” he pledged. He finally paid tribute to Jaliba Kuyateh, a man he described as his master and who taught him how to play the Kora.”