Friday, October 3, 2014

Travel advice to opponents of the regime

Here are a few common sense suggestions to those Gambians who MUST travel to Gambia for whatever reason that can save them a lot of headache:

  • Leave your loptops behind.  Taking them with you will invite the NIA to rummage through them looking for trouble for you, your family, friends and colleagues. 
  • Similarly, leave your smart phones behind for the same reason you are leaving your laptop computers behind.  You will be forced to provide the NIA with your passwords, and once they gain access, they will go through your phone book and any name that closely resembles an opponent of Yaya Jammeh will be arrested, if that person happens to be in The Gambia or will be targeted if they happen to leave abroad.
  • Those travelling with a U.S. passport should notify the American Embassy as soon as you land at Banjul International Airport.  Although we are not recommending this method, others have left their passports in Dakar and travel with their Gambia National ID to avoid having their foreign passports being seized by the NIA agents or police.  

There are certainly internet cafes and business centers across the Greater Banjul Area, in hotels and in nooks and crannies up and downriver that one can use without much hassle.  It may sound inconvenient but nothing is more inconvenient than being bundled up and thrown in jail because you look like a "Semester" or a "Struggler" with the latest iPhone 6 and a lap top loaded with your personal information that will only invite the NIA to go through it looking for more people to put in trouble.  You can always get access to a cell phone to use privately. 

The Gambia is a dictatorship and travelers, be they Gambians or foreigners, must recognize this as a fact.  If the immigration misses you, you will not be so lucky with one of hundreds of soldiers or NIA agents manning the numerous check points from one end of the country to the other.

Being inconvenienced for a few weeks without your personal laptop and cell phone is better than being inconvenienced for an indefinite length of time from a dictatorship that will not hesitate to frame charges against anyone they label as an enemy of the APRC regime.