didaI have just seen DUGA’s open letter to Youssou Ndour (my hero too for his anti-Apartheid activism – he did the Anthem “BIKO” with Peter Gabriel).

With great respect to DUGA, and other Diaspora Gambians who have been criticising Senegalese musicians and even Macky Sall himself, people who are fighting for freedom must bear one thing in mind: FREE PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE, AND WILL NOT ACCEPT, BEING BULLIED.

Once DUGA had engaged in that high profile fight in Dakar with a Senegalese musician, they lost the power to PERSUADE. Youssou Ndour may become the President of Senegal after Macky Sall. Youssou Ndour is one of the most influential Senegalese, and Africans, on the world stage. What do DUGA, and Diaspora Gambians, hope to gain by alienating him? The answer lies in what Hello Gambia gained when they cornered and humiliated President Macky Sall in New York. Macky Sall went home and deported Hello Gambia’s darling Kukoi Sanyang to Mali and banned Diaspora Gambians from using Senegal as a base to oppose Jammeh (prior to the humiliation of Macky Sall by the Hello Gambia proprietor, Jammeh’s opponents were receiving almost diplomatic status in Dakar – remember the guy who set up a Transitional Government there?)

DUGA’s arguments against Youssou Ndour miss the point. How can DUGA compare Youssou Ndour’s stance against the Iraq War and Apartheid in South Africa to the problems of The Gambia under Yahya Jammeh?

This is what DUGA say:

Gambia may not have declared war on another nation and the streets may not be littered with bodies, but it must be pointed out that Gambians are not living in peace.  Everyday citizens, journalists, politicians, the young and old are subjected to judicial harassment, torture, violence, humiliation, extended detention without trial.  Many Gambians are forced into exile for fear of being assassinated”.

If that is the basis upon which DUGA want to prevent Youssou Ndour from going to The Gambia, then they are living in fantasy. The fact of the matter is that for 20 years Gambian has been a PEACEFUL country. For those not involved in politics or journalism in The Gambia, it is by and large a problem free country. It is not for me or for DUGA, but that is because we are political campaigners and journalists. 100,000 tourists went to The Gambia this winter and for them it is a peaceful country. Many Brits have homes in The Gambia and live there without getting involved in politics or journalism and for them it is a peaceful country. There is a high-powered EU delegation in Banjul this week meeting with President Jammeh, and they will agree with DUGA that “ … citizens, journalists, politicians, the young and old are subjected to judicial harassment, torture, violence, humiliation, extended detention without trial.  Many Gambians are forced into exile for fear of being assassinated”. NEVERTHELESS, the EU delegation too will conclude that The Gambia remains a peaceful country in a tragically war-torn continent.

Bullying Youssou Ndour and other Senegalese musicians visiting The Gambia is completely counter-productive and a waste of time. Such bullying will simply make President Macky Sall, Youssou Ndour and other Senegalese take a dim view of DUGA and Diaspora Gambian activists. That is not to say that the Senegalese do not see what is going on in The Gambia. They are incredibly intelligent and well-educated people and they do. The Senegalese reaction to the goings on along the River Banks that run through their country is, most of the times, simply a shake of the head and comments to the effect that “Jammeh is lucky he doesn’t have the Senegalese as his citizens”! To which Jammeh will probably nod his head and say “Alhamdullilah”.

I suggest DUGA and Gambian Diasporan activists find something more productive than attempting to bully Senegalese citizens – such as finding out why Gambians are so peaceful! (unless they are in the Diaspora!).

Dida Jallow-Halake

London, UK.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this section are the author's own and do not represent the editorial policy of Kairo News. Kairo News will trash any comment that inflames tribal, racial or religious hatred.

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