With Rohey Samba
The big news, which is not very new, honestly, is the slaying, kidnapping and sacrificing of kids that is widely circulated on social media in recent times. It’s always a trend we see eclipse during election time in and around the Senegambia sub-region. Thus the signs and portents of an imminent electioneering year are shimmering in the air, over social media for the most part, for all to see.
But these evil acts do not always occur during election periods…for the official aspirations to reach the highest echelons of power can make people do anything at any point in time!
About ten years ago, Lamarana Jallow, an affable guy who rented a shop at my mother’s residence in Brikama suffered the fate that no parent would wish upon their worst enemy.
His son was kidnapped and left for dead at the foot of Nyambai Forest. It happened that on that fateful day, the boy was loitering with his friends in the forest when a group of three loggers called out for them to go over and take some sweets.
The other, more matured boys, on suspecting the motives of the older guys, ran for their lives leaving behind the six-year-old boy who walked over to the loggers to partake of the promised offerings. That was the last time the boy was seen alive and kicking. His mum, perceiving his absence when he failed to return to their home at the aube of sunset, went to inquire about his son from his playmates. That was when she was told about the incident, which transpired earlier in the forest on that day.
A search party was dispatched into the forest led by the boy’s mum and the eldest of the boys he was with when the incident occurred. But he was nowhere to be seen after hours of vigorous search well into the pitch-dark night.
It was on the following day in the wee hours of the morning that a police officer, posted at the Nyambai Forest checkpoint, sighted a little boy walking towards him in a daze. He was not crying or making any noise. He slumped over and fell down before he could reach the road where the officer was directing the early morning road traffic.
The police alerted the boy’s parents when he was found; for they had filed a missing person’s report the previous night. The boy on being identified by his parents was rushed to the Brikama Health Centre where he spent a month without much improvement to his comatose condition. In spite of this, his mum still yielding to the hope that his son would recover took him back home after the month of non-improvement to his condition to try alternative traditional medicine. That’s when the boy’s health took a turn for the worse and he finally succumbed to his infirmity a few days later. Until the day he died, the boy never uttered a word.
Whatever those loggers did to the little boy, no body knows to this very day. But it was definitely what killed him. In fact, unbeknown to the boy’s parents, a thirteen-year-old boy was nearly killed a few days earlier on the same spot. He was picking firewood to sell when an unknown man came from behind him and struck his head hard with a heavy log. The strike on his head broke his skull but was not enough to kill him.
The boy stunned by the impact, with his head bleeding profusely ran as fast as his heels could carry him to the police post at the Farato Farm nearby and reported the case. The policemen on duty conducted a thorough search of the place but realised no results.
Coming back to the issue at hand, I would like to posit here that my favourite form of conversation is talking. Since talking bears out all our emotions, which I try to translate into writing, I once again project my thoughts on a matter I have been trying to grapple with since the first day I received the news about the kidnappings of kids transmitted on mainstream media.
A little anecdote before I begin my ranting though…
So here I was, some three weeks ago opening my WhatsApp messages around 10pm in the evening, which is the time I usually devote to do so. I opened one message and it all but looked like a decapitated head of a child. I decided against opening the image altogether and almost deleted the entire message itself, but paused to watch the accompanying video. When I was able to grasp the message, I did the best thing I knew how to do, that is, tag my very close friends and family, and press the share button.
Now, among the people I shared the message with was my learned lady friend.
Some few minutes after sharing, my friend sent a voice message disputing the facts as presented. Actually, she was able to winnow down the image and lo and behold, she found a discrepancy…
Apparently, the Touba image of the boy with the decapitated head had Police Headquarters written on the police station at the background of the image of the man carrying the child’s torso, so the deed could not have transpired in Senegal, a French speaking nation. Well, they are very discerning, lawyers are.
So there, I took a good look at the image for once, and my faith was restored in my people – excuse my nativist bigotry! Frankly, all the remaining videos sent to me lost their spunk from then on. They all look different than us, I mean the murderers caught with the dead kids, a be?
But that’s not disputing the fact that these terrible acts are taking place as I write right now. Overzealous persons are using scripted images culled from the Internet to put faces to the stories, no doubt capitalising on the power of imagery to lay emphasis on the messages…
Election time in our sub-region heralds the time for sacrifices, innuendos and various forms of trickery and maraboutage to win the seats of power at the expense of the miserable wretches/enablers, collectively called the citizenry, that is, us -you and me. The common question on everyone’s lips is, how much longer can we tolerate this form of terrorism our hapless political leaders have got us into?
And also, what part do we play in our commitment to stop evil and express our disapproval with these inhuman events that shame us to the point of secret tears in the privacy of our own homes?
By and large, the Senegalese nation is voting soon. When Senegal sneezes, The Gambia coughs. That’s how close neighbours we are. So yes, there are many macabre videos of kids in many positions of death causing panic in both nations. Each day, we are variously brutalised by the cruel images and videos of dead kids, suffocated or decapitated to their death before they could reach their full potential and contribute their quota towards our nations’ development.
We had a taste of this upheaval in the last presidential election when Jammeh decided to win by hook or by crook. Yet the media exposure of the fait busted his cover, the brutal effect of which shocked parents into decisiveness.
Stirring personal accounts of kids being snatched on their way to and from school, and other disappearance acts of children taken on the streets in broad daylight broadcasted over mainstream media made mothers refuse to send their kids to school altogether. The resultant effect was an annee blanche for many school children here in The Gambia within that period. Thank God the political impasse did not last longer than it did…
We are polygamous nations, both Senegal and The Gambia. We have more kids than we can afford…and many of us, especially the men, care only to count their number of kids not to cater for their needs. How can a government salaried man – I mean any Gambia Government salaried man for that matter – afford more than four kids in this our society today?
Yet we pursue the mad crusade to outnumber each other’s kids in the name of religious zeal. I bet you that Allah prefers quality kids that are well-educated in their religion and in worldly matters than a quantity of wayward kids loitering the streets in stoic cynicism or shame for merely being born into this part of the world. No wonder our youth are crossing the ocean in their troves in search for a better life, with the slogan ‘Barca or Barzah,” that is Barcelona or the Hereafter.
Do we continue to swallow the ruin of the future generations without fighting the fight against our carnal desires?
Essentially, the beastly nature of our desires distills the significance of procreation we are imbued with as human beings and essentially kills off our duty of care for our offspring not only in this worldly life but in the hereafter as well. The laws, including Islamic law, that sanctioned polygamy and child bearing to increase the Islamic ummah is not merely meant to be administered but to be interpreted according to the ever-shifting demands and realities of our times.
Without a doubt, the outrage over the ‘macabre’ images and videos of kids’ is a form of hypocrisy as long as we continue to give birth to children in profusion without offering our kids the opportunities in life to ensure they have the best possible starts…
We must revisit the fights of principle in the field of our experience today, in order to sacrifice for our kids and their future. Needless to say that our experience with the most vulnerable population, that is, our kids, has not been good so far. What with the commonness of child abuse, child molestation and now, child sacrifices in our communities today.
The burden on mothers with children coupled with the hardship of life in recent times makes catering for many kids lives and livelihoods a task greater than more women can shoulder. With the measly fish money they are given, many mothers are compelled to resort to petty trading in order to supplement the family’s income leaving little time to cater to the nurturing of their kids.
So definitely we have kids to spare, atrophied by our communal insensitivities. In effect, it is not unheard of to see a family of ten share a single-bedroom house or two wives and twelve kids between them share a two-bedroom house in our communities. This is not the order of nature. This is not what God prescribed for humanity. We must change our ways.
I leave you to ponder over this…