They have come and gone all year around! I mean the days that leave Gambians reeling with agony, insecurity, uncertainty and so many unanswered questions.
The days that shatter innocent families’ hopes, steal their lovely breadwinners, some of them expecting to marry and reproduce so their image will remain when they join ancestors. These are the days that water down the dreams of patriotic and hardworking Gambians, including brothers and sisters fighting to give voice to voiceless communities. Their high level of patriotism pushes them to surrender their entire heart and mind to their country’s service. In so doing, most of them sacrifice their personal goals.
These sacrificial lambs will never shy away to hold the sword and fight for their motherland when the need arises. God creates them to add value or meaning to lives, which is why communities are devastated by their disappearance or death, usually in mysterious circumstances, for crossing the lines of the powers-that-be. The fact of the matter is that these gallant sons and daughters are fixed in all walks of life. Many more emerge when one dies or disappears.
Yes, July 7th is one of these terrible days – a day that demeans our noble profession and changes its color forever. The day gives us “kidnapping, disappearance and missing.” Yes, we feed on words and use them in whatever way possible; they are our arms and ammunition or better put it tools of our trade. But until the Chief Ebrima Manneh debacle, Gambian pen pushers hardly use the three above words in their day-to-day assignments.
The Gambia government’s naked lies about Chief’s disappearance and unwillingness to investigate Deyda Hydara’s callous murder are both demeaning and insulting to our profession, replacing our passion with sorrow and our hopes with despair.
We are still struggling to stomach what these days have brought to us. The days are devastating in magnitude for journalists in a country with little past problems. Who does not remember the belabored “Gambia no problem” slogan? This phrase belongs to the sweet days of Papa Jawara when we would swim in the pool of freedom and go to bed with hope and certainty of not being harmed for calling spade a spade.
Of course, this does not mean Papa Jawara’s regime has not bumped on our rights. I respect the ousted Jawara regime for not creating families like those of Chief Manneh and Deyda Hydara who are left to chase the air, in search of answers about how and why their loved ones disappeared or murdered.
In reality, our military-turned-civilian regime contains bunch of cowards who do not muster the courage to tell us what happens to those they have arrested. How long do we have to ride with a system in which no one dares tell the truth?
Exactly six years ago, Chief Manneh was arrested in the presence of his Daily Observer colleagues yet the government is diving around the simple truth.
We are desperately waiting for a day when truth will shine over falsehood. This day will reveal the skeleton hidden in our government’s cupboard. It might take some time but we will get there. Until then, our heart of sympathy goes to all the families coping with fear, uncertainty and shattered hopes. Your tears will not surely be wasted!
Musa writes this for http://www.kibaaro.com.