Refuting Seedu Barrow’s claims on Standard Newspaper
With reference to your story (entitled” I Never Bought a Graveyard”) captured on the front page of the Standard Newspaper dated 12th June, 2018, we totally object to Seedu Barrow’s claim.
Mr Seedou Barrow has no authority to say that the people of Taneneh are strangers because we are not strangers to anybody. If anybody still has that mentality in him let him go and read history.
In fact the burning issue is the cemetery which is a right to a people to bury their dead ones as human beings.
According to the Standard Newspaper, he said” the land in question is not located in Taneneh but in Dalaba”. We therefore want to put the records straight. Dalaba is opposite the cemetery along the main high way from Brikama to Gunjur.
Again according to the Standard Newspaper, “I bought the land from the Jabang kunda Clan in 2003, when it was nothing but a thick bush”.
The question is if he claimed to have bought a plot of land in 2003, how old is the village then? The village is about a century old and is he telling us that people have not been dying in the community? The cemetery is under the Jabang Kunda but as to how the community acquired the land for use as a cemetery is something that no one can stand up to say it because all those people are no longer living to testify.
Since he started felling the trees the community informed all the relevant authorities of what was taking place at the cemetery and they turned a deaf ear despite several attempts to stop him.
When the cemetery was initially sold to him, he used bulldozers to level to the graves in such a way that they can no longer be identified.
At some points, a taskforce committee was established by the former regime headed by Bakary Dembo Santang Bojang the former chief of Brikama. The taskforce found some graves but the older graves could no longer be recognized because they were bulldozed. If Seedou and the State contest that the place has never been a cemetery before 2003, the expertise of forensic experts can be sought involved in order to establish the facts about the whole matter.
The claim he made, that a father to a dead girl went to his father to ask him for a place for burial is not true.
Instead there was a manipulation and the father (Pa Emmanuel Gomez) was arrested and detained at Gunjur Police station and was later released. Seedou also said that we were burying our dead in our compounds. This is another fallacy. There was only one man who was buried at home, based on our cultural practices, which is not a new thing in the Gambian context.
We want to put it to Seedu Barrow that Taneneh had no body in the former government who used his influence to distort the fact but instead he is the one who is distorting the facts with the help of the former Chief and some elders because the cemetery existed well before Seedou was born.
The question we have for the Government is “do graveyards/cemeteries in the Gambia have documents/papers”? The simple answer is NO. But why did the Government decide to rule against the community of Taneneh because the Government said the community failed to provide documents to justify their claim.
Seedu Barrow managed to acquire the documents through a fraudulent way. The former chief Sheriff Ajay Janneh helped him obtain documents which he circulated to the Governor, Alkalo of Gunjur, Gunjur Police, Barrow Kunda and the District Authorities without copying us. This is where the whole problem started because the chief never put us to light and left us in the dark. From this we can boldly say that this is a clear manifestation of tribalism, discrimination, inefficiency and nepotism, to say the least.
What we do know is that in the rural Gambia there are no documents for cemeteries, if it has happed else where it will be of very recent.
Samuel Gomez and Anthony Preirra,
Members of the community