A New Publication: ‘Challenges of Gambian Churches During Yahya Jammeh’s Era’ by Philip Saine.

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This book (in 218 pages and 28 chapters) gives a detailed account of former President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia rise to power and eventual fall. Many African political commentators saw much similarity in the legacy of Yahya Jammeh and Edi Amen Dada of Uganda. However, to many others the legacy of Edi Amen was nothing but a small fraction (An ‘ABC’ it is said) if compared to the legacy of Yahya Jammeh.

This book (28 Chapters in 180 pages) describes how it all started, the pains, sorrows and fright that captivated Gambians, and the responses of the Christians.

Yahya ruled the Republic of The Gambia for 22 years. At the beginning there was much euphoria, grass-root popularity and enthusiasm amongst the youth of the country. During his first 10 years in power Yahya implemented developmental projects: built bridges, roads, hospitals, schools and a university. Yahya gradual became much more powerful than envisaged (“Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”). Yahya Jammeh assumed authoritarian rule and eliminated all and anything that was perceived an opponent. The second 10+2 years was virtually a period of dictatorship. He built a strong security to protect his interest and eliminated any person presenting opposing views. Many people were unfairly arrested, tortured and murdered. The Gambia became virtually a ‘Police State’.

Yahya suppressed the media, continually attacked persons and property of dissenting private FM Radio Stations. The Press was suppressed and Islamic clerics with opposing views were silenced or forced into exile. The judiciary was manipulated to his favour and there was arbitrary use of power of the president to appoint and terminate the Chief Justice. Several human rights advocates and opposition parties were intimated and arrested. Others languished under indefinite detention for months or years without charge or trial.

Eventually Yahya Jammeh declared The Gambia an Islamic State and indicated that Sharia Law would form the basis of the constitution. He invited the Islamic preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik, to consolidate his vision of an Islamic State. The Gambian community was polarized. The Christian community sought to have audience with Yahya but was denied. In the midst of this fear and confusion within the Christian community Yahya released several executive orders infringing onto the lives of the Christian Community. He introduced laws affecting the dress code for women and orders that interrupted Christian worship. He further triggered a proverbial stand-off with Christians over the Banjul Christian Cemetery by ordering the closure of the cemetery.

The nervous Christian community adopted two measures; first to prayers because they have a firm believe that ‘it was the Lord’s battle’; and second because it was a presidential elections year, they were determined to vote Yahya Jammeh out.

The Christian community had support from a significant number of the Muslim population, from oppressed political parties, journalist and the Gambian population in the diaspora. Intensive Christian prayer sessions were organized. There were ‘Prayer Torch Runs’ and Christian fasting. Some eminent Christians participated effectively to encourage the diverse political parties forming a coalition party.

Elections were conducted and Yahya Jammeh was defeated. He refused to hand-over power and the regional body, ECOWAS, AU and the UN intervened. Like Pharaoh, Yahya Jammeh ignored the demand from all these institutions and declared a state of emergency and sought to extend his term of office.

Military intervention seemed then the final resort; but at the eleventh hour ‘there was God’s intervention’. Without a single bullet shot or a single soul lost Yahya was forced into exile into Equatorial Guinea and a new government installed. The might of Yahya Jammeh dissipated and his vision of an Islamic State abandoned. The Gambian population jubilated and immediately felt peace, freedom blowing across the country. The entire population of all tribes and religious believe felt victorious. The Christian community was free from fear of marginalization and persecution. The hand of God was over The Gambia. God did manifest His power and authority.

The Christian community met again in this new political dispensation praising God, recalling prophesy and testimonies. The community prayed for genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. The new government was urged to create an environment that would allow all to participate equally in the rebuilding of The New Gambia.

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