As a young lad growing up in the provincial town of Basse, I was of the believe that Jawara was superhuman with insurmountable spiritual powers. It was narrated in some quarters that on the day of his birth, his father found a ship full of cash while on fishing. On his return home, he named his new born son KAIRABA. It never occurred to me at that tender age that Jawara was a surname. I also heard that he possessed powers to make him invisible when and where he desired. Moreover, he can choose to be light skin at one time and ebony at another. As a result of these foregoing mystic narrations of his supernatural powers, his name was always mentioned with utmost fear and respect. Thanks to Swaebou Touray of PDOIS who demystified Jawara for me through his regular supply of Foroyaa newspapers. Here I must hasten to add that Foroyaa initiated me to political consciousness. I was habituated to Foroyaa like a junkie to a drug.
My view of the world around me soon began to mirror in a simpler and clearer perspective. A lot started to fall into place: who was responsible for building roads, provision of sanitation, why my Dad was paying tax on his compound, why the Chief held court proceeding every Thursday at the market, why people vote etc. etc. Foroyaa was teaching me about my rights and responsibilities as a citizen as well as the responsibilities of those who are entrusted with running the affairs of the state. As my political knowledge widened, I started asking some questions. One day, we were having lunch and I still do not know where I summoned the audacity I asked my Dad: What has the government done for you after all these years you have been a loyal supporter? As if I have said a taboo, everyone went silence. The silence was so quiet one can hear its resounding echoes piercing like laceration of a new razor blade. It was a chilling brief moment.
My Dad was a disciplinarian to the core. After what seems like an unbearable wait for an examination results, he responded:” A lot”. His response sparked a volcano of anger rushing through my heart abating the initial fear which engulfed me. I have to really checked my emotion and calculate what to say next knowing fully well that I have now walked myself into. With a childish smile, I went further to elaborate these politicians are only using him to enrich themselves. “Look at how they are sending their children to the best private schools. To add insult to injury, they whisked them to Europe or America as soon as the complete their high school education. And when they are back they are appointed into big positions.
For us, children of the poor, you can only get a job if your parents know someone in a high place. It does not matter whether you have excellent results or not” I pointed out. “Do you see any of us your children becoming permanent secretaries or ministers?” I finally asked him. Perhaps I have awakened a feeling in him, but surprisingly he admitted that he was never thinking of what I just said. That moment was a turning point in my life.
Unfortunately, today Jammeh wallows in such mystic notions despite the advancement of technology. A lot of the senior security officers especially in the Gambia Armed Forces refrained from ousting out Jammeh through a military coup because they believed that Jammeh has insurmountable spiritual and supernatural powers. Some of the officers I discussed about the opportunities they missed in capturing and removing Jammeh from power postulated that Jammeh knows everything that is planned against him. They sadly went further to argue that he does not sleep as his jinn visit him every night to give him a detailed report of what transpired during the day and what might likely happen the next day. Strangely, he can read people’s minds. I could not believe what I was hearing from such highly educated and senior officers. It then dawned on me that until we demystify Jammeh, no military or security officer be it junior or senior will attempt to remove Jammeh from power. One of them was even quick to point out that “Haven’t you heard of all the treatments he is doing at home?” That one really made me laugh with sorrow. For them and many other Gambians, Jammeh is a psychic endowed with unimaginable spirituals powers. To counter their notion about Jammeh, I recounted some accounts I heard as a young lad about the late Siekou Touray of Guinea. He took the Guineans for a ride for too long simply because they thought that he had spiritual powers. That was precisely why he was always wearing white robes.
Comparatively, Jammeh is also personally spreading his mystic powers rumours just to cast dust in your eyes and weaken your power base as senior armed officers. If he succeeds in making you believe in such nonsense you will ever remain fearful of him and loyal to his person instead of the presidency and the state. I persuaded them to take a closer look at Jammeh and make some little research about Siekou Touray and those former African leaders whose people at one time thought they possessed supernatural powers and contrast them with Jammeh. Surprisingly, they will discover that such leaders are nothing but bamboo stem whose rotten inside is protected by its hard outer shell. Jammeh knows nothing apart from what he learns from his security chiefs and the intelligence gathered by their various units.
Jammeh is sowing the seed of maintaining his power by fear. This is clearly manifested by some of the myopic orders and warnings he issue to Gambians. A classic example is when he warned that Gambians should not be out during the Magrib prayer period commonly referred to as “timiss” in Wolof because his jinn will be out during that period. It is also reported that he once asked Gambians to tie a red piece of cloth around their wrist because his jinn has lost one of its children. These coupled with his notorious witch hunt all go to demonstrate that Jammeh is masterminding all the rumours about his powers. One of the reasons why Jammeh is winning in this aspect is because most Gambians rely heavily in marabous and underworld powers. No marabou can accord you what Allah has not destiny for you. True black magic does exist. It was introduced by two angels during the time of prophet Sulayman. However they made it clear that they were only a trial and anyone who learns and practice it will have nothing in the hereafter.
As Muslims we should be very mindful of anything that will make us associate anything else with Allah. Take it from me that Jammeh is nothing but an economic liability and a loner trying to relive his unfulfilled childhood days. He is a disgrace to any sensible Gambian as he drags our beloved country’s name in the mud. Any time he is on the headlines it is for the wrong reasons. Just for argument sake that he has the powers that others believe he has why is he not curing his own children first. We all know that charity begins at home Jammeh. Your favourite singer Bob Marley said: “You can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. To my fellow men and women in uniform particularly those who are opportune to oust out Jammeh, do not let the opportunity pass you by again. Jammeh has no spiritual powers or jinn. He is just an idiot playing with your intelligence and taking you for a ride.
Sulayman Jeng, UK