By Omar Bah
Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD student at the Northwestern University in the US, has said that contrary to widespread belief former President Jammeh created only hardship, confusion and division in the Fonis which is still affecting both normal life and reconciliation.
Speaking to The Standard, the political science student said Jammeh made Foni as a comfort zone but that was just for his own personal interest, as he also suppressed whosoever did not want to buy into his ideas there.
“To Jammeh Foni in particular and even Gambia in general was nothing, or is irrelevant without him and it is because of that some of the people there who were so much entrenched and indoctrinated in this theory cannot still comprehend that there is change of leadership,” Keita said.
He further disclosed that while many people may think that Jammeh favoured Foni and its people, the place was not spared too from his madness.
“Jammeh even murdered members of his extended family and subjected scores of elders to humiliating acts such as getting them to drink concoctions that made them sick or die,” Keita said.
Keita, who organised a successful reconciliation meeting in the Fonis in 2017, said before Jammeh came to power Foni was very united and that it is only fair for one to say that he caused all the chaos and division in the area. Ketia warned that the victims of Jammeh in Foni must not be forgotten especially the dozens of victims of his witch-hunt.
“I think the new government has a big role to play in this place to reunite the people in the Fonis and show them that they are Gambians like everyone else with or without Jammeh in power,” he added.
Keita added that even though he is not a fan of President Barrow’s government, he was very pleased with some of its nationalistic actions such as allowing Jammeh’s mothers body back for a decent burial.
“I think what we have all learnt from that experience is that the principal objective is we do not want to slide back to the kind of government we just emerged from,” he said.
Mr Keita also raised concern over the recent tribal rhetoric, saying the Gambia does not have a history of ethnic conflict.
“But again you have to blame Jammeh because these tribal things have their roots in a series of hurtful campaign speeches Jammeh gave to his supporters in 2016 when he referred to Mandinkas as enemies and foreigners and threatened to bury them six feet under.”