Sunday, September 29, 2013

The week that was in review

While the entire week belonged to Professor Yaya Jammeh, Mrs. Zeinab Suma Jammeh, and the Gambian delegation to the UN General Assembly, the events were driven entirely by a handful of Gambian dissidents and exiles. Kudos to all of them.

When the official mouthpiece of the dictatorship, The Daily Observer, ran a cover story that can only be described as provocative, announcing the arrival of Jammeh and The Gambian delegation at JFK to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, it was acting on instructions of Jammeh specifically to provoke and taunt his opponent.  The front page story also included Jammeh's New York address and detailed scheduled of his meetings while in New York.  The editors wished they never did because no sooner than the online edition was published than the Gambian dissident community realigned their protest schedule in response to being dared to challenge the authority of Jammeh.   The rest, as they say, is history.

The DUGA-DC Group led by Coach Pa Samba Jow, immediately headed for the Ritz-Carlton in New York from their Washington DC-base with his team of dissident protesters to join forces with the New York and Rhode Island dissident communities led by Saihou Mballow, and the guy who turned out to be a better boxer than his Senegalese namesake was a wrestler, Falai Baldeh.  Fatou Sagnia, as part of the New York crew, was awesome in verbalising her contempt for Jammeh and his regime.  The Atlanta crew, led by Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh and assisted by Banka Manneh, also took off and headed North.  The Raleigh folks led by Alkali Conteh were also determined not to miss out on what turned out to be the biggest scheduling and security blunder in Jammeh's 19-year rule - an error in judgement, and an exercise in arrogance that proved to be the turning point in the two-decade old struggle with a tyrannical regime.

The ensuing protests in front of Jammeh's hotel prevented him from attending any of his official engagements, except his scheduled speech which he delivered on Friday, looking more like an Alcatraz escapee than a Professor.  Zeinab will never forget the day she was bundled up and smuggled through the back window for dinner outside the hotel without Yaya.  She will have to do her shopping at some other time.

Jammeh's fear permeated some members of his delegation who, in trying to act otherwise, engaged themselves in spitting matches with protesters that ended in physical altercations.  His security detail, including some members of the notorious NIA, couldn't comprehend why the U.S Secret Service and/or the New York Police Department officers did not shoot the protesters or, at least, haul them off to jail.  They were reminded that this is America where the freedom of speech, assembly and association is respected. The guys from the Home of Bamba Dinka didn't want to entertain any of that from the Americans.  Where they, the NIA come from, that's bad law.

While those in Banjul were cheering for Falai Baldeh, affectionately dubbed 'Uncle Falai", Pa Samba Jow, Alkali Conteh, Amadou Scattred Janneh and others, they were also praying that Jammeh stays in America as the official guests of Uncle Sam.  They were concerned that once he escapes and returns to Banjul, he was going to unleash his frustrations on the local population with vengeance.  My advise to Yaya is he better not because Gambians will not take it lying down any more while warning the regime that the safety and welfare of the families of Omar Bah and Nanama Keita or other families in similar conditions is the responsibility of Yaya Jammeh who must ensure that his killers and torturers are on short leash.