Kindly allow me to respond to Mr Saidina Alieu Jarjou’s recent article titled “God Save The Gambia ” on kanillia protesters . Mr Jarjou has been writing articles to support and advocate for three decades of tribal dominated rebellion in cassamance. Therefore, his recent article to support rebels incited violent protest in kanillia is not a surprise .
Mr Jarjou claimed that his “mother is a mandinka from Baddibu Farafenni , he was born in Foni and his ancestors were from cassamance”. Mr Jarjou’s passion, support and advocacy for Jola tribal dominated rebellion in cassamance is well documented and concerning . The question I have for Mr Jarjou , did he ever asked people of farafenni or the rest of the country about their views on Jola rebellion in cassamance? I certainly believe that Mr Jarjou do not understand that majority of Gambian people especially in majority regions do not support or are not sympathetic to cassamance rebellion , except Foni where there are good numbers of people who are receptive and supportive of this low level rebellion. Why would Mr Jarjou continue to be supportive of this rebellion which is an Existential threat to The Gambia’s peace, stability and democratization process ?
I think the simple answer is that Mr Jarjou is more loyal to the causes of his ancestors who have the dream of “Independence of cassamance” than peace , sovereignty and stability of The Gambia which is being threatened by this rebellion. Mr Jarjou is a tribal political activist who is promoting Jola hegemony in Senegambia . People like Mr Jarjou should have been an advocate for tribal unity because of his multi-ethnic background but he is not practicing tribal inclusiveness he falsely claimed to advocate for. How can someone who support tribal dominated rebellion pretend to advocate for tribal inclusiveness ? I think Mr Jarjou need to do personal evaluation of his continue support for this rebellion which causes so much economic, social and environmental sufferings for majority of Jola victims in both Gambia and Senegal. It is quite dishonest and disheartening to see exploitation of the very people he claimed to advocate for.
Cassamance rebellion is a tribal discriminatory rebellion designed to promote Jola hegemony in Senegambia. The former Dictator Yaya Jammeh has supported and used this rebellion to sustain military dictatorship in The Gambia for the past 22 years. The rebellion is based barbarism and cruelty , aimed at committing atrocities against innocent people. Mr Jarjou and many Gambians of Jola tribe who supports this conflict in cassamance , by extension refused to acknowledge legitimacy of president Barrow while they pretend that they are advocating for peace, better and equal opportunities for people of Foni and cassamance should have drawn a lesson on rebels attacked on farafenni military Barracks more than a decade ago. These former Gambian rebel fighters were from Liberia. When the rebels attacked Farafenni Military Barracks , they slaughtered some soldiers, took over the entire military camp and went to Farafenni town to look for support but they did not get a single Gambian from Farafenni or the entire North Bank region of The Gambia at the time to support their rebellion . In fact it was the people of North Bank especially the villagers of Konteh Kunda and passengers on the road who spotted the rebel vehicle and helped The Gambia’s military intervention team to capture Mr Mballow Kanteh while others escaped from the jurisdiction of The Gambia.
During this period, Baddibu was opposition stronghold to the regime of former Dictator Yaya Jammeh. Despite being in the opposition, people of North Bank refused to support the rebels who completely took over the entire military camp. This indicates that majority Gambian people will never support any senseless violence and barbarism by any group or faction to destabilize our country. This is a lesson Mr Jarjou and those who continue to agitate for Foni and cassamance rebellion should understand and discourages violence . Now another question is , why some people in Foni including Mr Jarjou are still supporting these rebel fighters in their midst despite rejection of their cause by the vast majority of Gambians? I think the answer is simply based on cultural and historical evidence of Jola community ties and values on family relationships. This has resulted to some Jolas to blindly support any one of their tribe member even if the person is an evil killer. They value family ties and relationships more than other tribes do. This is what causes tribal bias or tribalism at the expense of our collective national interest . This is evidenced by their total and complete support for Dictator Yaya Jammeh who killed many natives of kanillia or Foni.
People of Foni and kanillia did not demonstrate because of massive killings or disappearances of their loved ones but they have demonstrated because according to the Alkalo’s son they missed the free food and other benefits they used to get from the former Dictator Jammeh. For the past 22 years, Foni was militarized by Jammeh and cassamance rebels who put land mines across the entire area while the people kept silence, they never protested or criticized such dangerous actions which continue to claim the lives of ordinary citizens in Foni. Is this not what Mr Jarjou and true sons and daughters of Foni should be talking about rather than being supportive of failed tribal rebellion which brought destruction in the lives of majority Jola victims? What about the protesting soldiers who were captured on videos while they incited locals to demonstrate against the wishes and aspirations of Gambian people who voted for President Barrow?
These soldiers are rebel fighters who infiltrated our military and they are on the payroll of former Dictator Yaya Jammeh. Where in the world did we ever seen security service members such as military officers incited violent protesters except in kanillia where we have rebel soldiers aimed to cause instability in the country. The evidence of protesting soldiers on the videos should be a national security concern to every well meaning Gambian who cares about peace and stability of the country. The number one responsibility of any soldier is to defend and protect national security by ensuring that lives and properties are safeguard but not to incites population against the country they have sworn to defend and protect.
Mr Jarjou and his types should spend their viable time , energy and ability to renounce violence in Foni and cassamance while at the same time engage in political education in Foni. Mr Jarjou should stop exploiting Jola people for cheap political recognition or activism and focus on real economic and social issues affecting the people of Foni and the country as a whole. Cassamance conflict has not brought any meaningful progress to the lives of Jola people who are mostly engaged in this rebellion in the past three decades. It is time for Jola people in Foni and cassamance to engage in peaceful political process to advance our common interest of peace, stability and democracy. It is only in the culture of peace and stability that we can sit down as a civilized society to engage in problem solving in various communities across the country.
I would encourage Mr Jarjou to learn not only the Jola perspective of this low level conflict but also to understand what his mother’s tribe and the rest of the tribes or the citizens in Senegambia think about this conflict in cassamance as suggested above. Jolas alone are not the only people suffering from whatever injustices they have claimed to justify this rebellion. They live in the same socioeconomic environment like the rest of citizens in cassamance. Educated Jolas and political leaders must stop using Jola people for their political gains. For far too long, the Jola leaders in their various communities have used their own people for political expediency in advancing their selfish economic and political interest. Leadership is about inspiring people to change their own conditions. Foni needs a strong and visionary political leadership which encourages civil education that empowers citizens to recognize not just their communal responsibility but also their own individual responsibility to advance their conditions . After all democracy is about individual participation in our collective decision making process. It is sad to see that Dictator Yaya Jammeh has succeeded to brainwash some Jolas to extend that some of them are willing to destabilize the country against common interest of peace we badly need in our new democracy. Ordinary Jola citizens when not brainwashed are the most loyal and values community and family relationships. Such good human qualities should be used to promote political and economic developments in various communities through participatory democracy. Foni also deserves inspiring political leaders who recognizes that talents of the people are the most important assets to transform the lives of citizenry but not just to believe that only one person has the capability to do everything. Jammeh is not the only son of Foni.
People of Foni has constitutional rights to be in the opposition, which is the beauty of democracy but it is also the responsibility of every citizen to defend and protect sovereignty of The Gambia. Ecomig forces has not only been mandated to protect and preserve our democracy but also to ensure that peace and stability prevail in the country while necessary security reforms are taking place .
Written By Max