A Letter to Dr Sheikh Nasiru Deen Yahya – Ramadan Fasting is Here
Dear Sheikh Dr Yaya,
Ramadan is approaching and I will like to know what day you decree Ramadan fasting should start. You see, I wish we could all get along and start Ramadan on the same day, but some just can’t see the moon even if it’s in their backyard. But you’d know since you are Sheikh Nasiru Deen, the title bestowed on you by the most spineless of so-called men of religion. I seek your guidance on when to start fasting.
By the way, sir, has any of the religious leaders that used to throng the statehouse praying for you to lord over us forever, bothered to call and ask what day we should start fasting? It seems they too have abandoned you and your thoughts don’t matter anymore. Oh, but how fickle some of us can be! But I’m still here for you! I realize that what aches my soul in this country goes beyond you; you are only a symptom of our various unacknowledged ailments.
They say your kind will never materialize in The Gambia again. And so we carry on as if you were our only problem. I cry for my country because they’ve made you a scapegoat, and you’re definitely not even our biggest problem. You were told you were the only solution, and you arrogantly believed the hubris. And now they want to blame you alone for everything. Even your UN ambassador said he was praised by the UN rep for averting bloodshed! Where would the Gambia have been without your righteous enablers?
Yaya, when the times were really good, and you felt as if you were some demigod, such that you claimed you owned this country, you never thought you would be where you are today: an isolated man in a foreign country, frail and sick. Even your Zainab hardly stays with you anymore. She’s since found greener pastures in Morocco. Surely your ending cannot be this painful; or are these the signs that the time of kingship is nigh? Whatever happens, some of us can never betray you, and that includes me by the way. At least I don’t blame you alone for Gambia’s issues. I am sure when my Bandam’s wealth and power are challenged, he has your men to guide him into another dictatorship.
Yaya, many of those speaking ill of you today are the same people that praised you, called you father, worshipped you, farmed for you, sang you ditties of praise, dreamt up visions for the future, reported their colleagues and their neighbours and friends to your NIA. They are the same people that campaigned for you. They wore T-shirts emblazoned with your handsome face. Today, they call your reign a dictatorship. They are the same people that signed off on missives with “your humble servant”. They revered you; praised you for paying their school fees, and giving them scholarships to study abroad. You gave them positions they’re not qualified for. Made some of them ministers; the dream of many a Gambian. They claimed to love you Yaya. They slaved for you. Even those who were far older than you called you Pabi. They called you Oga. Your directives, legal or questionable, were edicts from high above; not to be questioned! Being close to you and your closest allies was a privilege many hustled for. Today, those same people distance themselves from you and claim you deceived them. They claim they didn’t know you were killing and raping and stealing! The only ones that know of your butchery are the widows you created, the children you left fatherless and motherless, and the women you violated. The rest of us didn’t know you did anything wrong! It’s your country after all.
Yaya, the same people that laughed at your corny jokes, such as asking someone to spell “ehe” are the ones that claim today that they didn’t know you were doing bad things! They are the same people that marvelled at your discovery that the world has three days: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They called you a philosopher. You insulted them and all they chose to do is laugh it off. They knelt down when they spoke to you. Well Yaya, we know your yesterday today, we know your today, today, and your tomorrow is coming. Gambians may not respect your victims but other countries are waiting.
Yaya, the same people that defended you online on Gambia L and Gambia Post because you gave them “palass” are the same people disparaging you today. But to them, you are the problem. They promoted you on the mediocre airwaves of your GRTS, on radios, and the once-revered pages of the Observer, that is after it was dismembered by your various spineless editors. “I have to eat” was the mantra or its twin excuse “I’m working for my country.” Honour and dignity be damned to hell.
They danced and celebrated your made-up birthdays. “We are doing it for the Gambia”, they claim. They allowed you to vitiate them. I heard of a minister on whom you poured water because he wasn’t dancing like everyone else around you. Everyone saw the funny part and turned a Nelsonian Eye to the humiliation. Everyone danced or smiled from ear to ear when you danced Yaya. Today, everyone distances themselves away from anything related to you. They claim they didn’t know you had Junglers. They claim they didn’t know their fellow Gambians were being tortured at your NIA. And they think you are the only problem. Not them.
Oh, but how fickle we can be! Many who defended you then, have turned against you today. Even people you rewarded with ministership call your reign a dictatorship. They regard a dictatorship to be a one-man show, conveniently absolving themselves of any role in enabling it. The way some Gambians manage to wiggle themselves out of your dictatorship and pretend to be holier than the rest of mankind, ought to be the most remarkable wonder of duplicity.
Even some that claim to love you still, are oscillating on the brink of perfidy, even while still holding out hope for your return. But I’m still here for you! I am here because Yaya I know you have never been Gambia’s only problem. It is not fair that those who helped you loot, kill and rape act holy now, while you are in exile. But that unfairness is for you to ponder, Yaya. Justice is what I ponder for you. Yes, justice for the many Victims you left in your wake as you fled with your expensive toys to Equatorial Guinea where you remain a prisoner in a mansion! You dreamt of wealth, and now you have the wealth, but not the peace of mind.
Yaya, you were the alpha and omega of all things here in The Gambia. It was all about you. Your wishes. Your desires. Some buried themselves deep in the crevices of willful ignorance, hearing nothing, and seeing nothing. Today they claim “oh but we didn’t know he was that bad”. But when they were told, they responded with certain denial: “it’s not true”! Yaya, Pa Nderry may not be the most loved guy, but no one can take away the information he shared about you. There was a reason you felt the need to ban his paper and humiliate his parents who did you no wrong.
Yaya, grown men trembled at your presence; people prayed before they came to see you. Fear of you became pervasive and palpable. For a nation that claims to be god-fearing, many feared you more than they feared disobeying their God. Oh Yaya, today they have all abandoned you, and only a few remain loyal to you, and it’s not out of any particular conviction, but a matter of necessity, because they’re stuck with you in a foreign land. But for me, I’m still here for you, and that is because if you were here, you would have told us when is Ramadan since “daykahbi yow ya morm” as you told us. I hope this letter reaches you in the beautiful but lonely mansion you occupy in Equatorial Guinea. You don’t have to respond to any of my queries, but just tell me when is Ramadan Dr Sheikh Yaya?
A Citizen Of The Country You Claimed To Own