FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda), Fabakary B. Ceesay, 10 February 2009
The people of Jambur in the Kombo South District were on Wednesday 28th January shaken by the appearance of so-called witch doctors that invaded their village with the support of people posing as the officer and men of The Gambia Armed Forces.
They took with them 60 persons on the allegation that they are possessing the spells of witch craft.
According to Imam Arfang Karamo Bojang he was at his house shortly after the 2:00 pm prayer, when a messenger from Alkalo Kebba Juju Bojang told him to attend a meeting with some guests from President Jammeh. Imam Bojang indicated that as an elderly person and due to his old age, he asked his son Bubacarr Bojang to represent him at the said meeting.
Bubacarr explained that when he arrived at the village “Bantaba,” (an open place where villages meet to discuss issues) he saw four men dressed like as magicians and a handful of men in military uniform led by a man named, Lieutenant Ebrima Solo Bojang, alias “Solo Bojang,” a number of plain clothes men, believed to state security agents and some green boys and girls who were clapping while the so-called witch hunters were drumming and doing other activities. Bubacarr said he was told by the Alkalo to accompany the witch doctors to the village grave yard to do some things that would prevent the survival of
any person with evil intentions within their community. He said to his surprise, when they arrived at the grave yard, the so-called witch doctors dug a pit and slaughtered a red cock and he was ordered to slaughter a red he-goat in the same pit.
He said he was also ordered to recite “Suratul Iklas” (“Kulhuwaa”) 17 times while they gave him a small drum to drum it for another 17 times. He added that the witch doctors later buried the red cock and a bottle containing a liquid in the pit but that they carried the slaughtered red goat with them.
Bubacarr Bojang indicated that upon their return to the “Bantaba,” Alkalo Kebba Juju Bojang told Lieutenant Solo Bojang and the witch doctors that the villagers had refused to come out to attend to their rituals. He alleged that the Alkalo and one Momodou Fatou Bojang led the four witch doctors with the men in uniform, armed with guns, from compound to compound to look for persons suspected of having witchcraft spells.
He said that he remained seated at the village “Bantaba” to study the situation, and while there he was not taken away.
On Wednesday 4 February, this reporter met about a hundred people who assembled in the Imam’s compound to listen to the narration of the ordeal of their parents.
Imam Bojang said to his surprise he saw Alkalo Juju Bojang with uniformed men and four men dressed all in red with mirrors and glasses all over their dresses, full of charms (jujus) hanging and dangling around them. He said they spoke to him in fula while someone was interpreting to him in the Mandinka.
He said he was told by the witch doctors that he possessed some knowledge of evil powers that can destroy the people of the country. He said he was asked by the men in uniform to go with them and he was taken to the “Bantaba” where a crowd had assembled and a bus was waiting to ferry them. He said he was asked to board the bus which he did without resistance.
The names of people that they could recall who were taken away are as follows: Imam Arfang Karamo Bojang, Modou (Dodou Kah) Bojang, Dembo Mamo Bojang, Adama Tuti Bojang (APRC Chair Woman), Naame (Aminata) Bojang, Omar Jerreh Bojang alias “Kanyarr”, Saineyba (Bucenty or Manjago) Bojang, Sunkaru Fatty, Malang Darboe, Jarry Kunda Bojang, Nyarra Kassama, Amie Ceesay, Adama Bojang, Manginki Cham, Sarjo Bojang, Manyima Jatta, Hawa Camara, Fatou Sarr, Masabu Bojang, Kaddy Jatta, Banna Jatta, Aroky Bojang, Masireh Bojang, Jamba Bojang, Mbasey Bojang, Sainabou Sanneh, Jarra Kanyi Bojang, Joko Bojang, Kossa Darboe, Amie Camara, Amie Banor, Dembo Manneh, Yaya Bojang, Manlafi Manneh, Bui Koiteh, Lang Jammeh, Dembo Jariatou Bojang, Lamin Bojang, Tijan Saidy, Lamin Touray, Kebba Saidy, Mamadi Kumba Saidy, Saikou Camara, Adama Bah, Fangsainey Tuti Bojang and Omar Bojang, the eldest son of the Imam. The eldest son of the Imam is the youngest among all those taken away. He is 48 years old.
According to them, all together they were sixty men and women who were loaded in the bus and taken to the place they call “Baba Jobe’s Compound”. All these people wanted to narrate their side of the story one by one. But they later agreed to let a few to explain what exactly happened to them. The most outspoken ones, Bucenty Mangjako Bojang, who claimed to have vigorously campaigned for President Jammeh and the APRC in the past elections, said he was picked up from his house while having lunch with his family. He said Lieutenant Solo Bojang, led by Alkalo Kebba Juju Bojang, the four witch doctors, green boys, two men in military uniform and few other plain clothes men came to his house and the Alkalo ordered him to come out. He said to his surprise two ‘green boys’ rushed towards him and attempted to apprehend him. He said the Alkalo told him that the witch doctors were sent to cure him because he was sick. He said he told them that if he is sick he would rather go to the hospital for treatment. He argued that he was intimidated to go with them as men with guns were standing by.
Mr. Sarjo Bojang said he was sitting on the street when the Alkalo came with men in military uniform, some ‘green boys’ and plain clothes men and pointed at him to be taken away. He said they were humiliated and dumped at the village “Bantaba” where the ritual was taking place with few women, ‘green boys and girls’ and children clapping as the drumming and rituals continued.
Demba Manneh also said he was told by those who took him away, led by the Alkalo, that he is sick. He said he was led to the bus.
Omar Bojang also indicated that he was picked up from his house while having lunch with his family, on the directives of the Alkalo. He said he was humiliated and dragged to the village “Bantaba” in front of his family.
As they were narrating their ordeal some shed tears while other just kept on nodding in shame and humiliation.
They noted that the most humiliated part of their ordeal was at “Baba Jobe’s compound”. Bucenty Bojang said they were asked to form in a queue, undressed to their waist “like how the slavers marched Kunta Kinteh and other captives into slavery”.
They said both men and women were dumped in one room where their particulars were taken. Sarjo Bojang said he was the first man to be listed in a book.
They said they were then taken one by one into a toilet room where they were washed from head to waist with slimy water. The large tomato paste tin, half full of a concoction, which many of them referred as “Kuubee Jaroo,” or “Tali-kunango” was now given to them to drink. They alleged that all of them immediately became unconscious and started to say abnormal things. They indicated that they urinated on themselves continuously until their clothes were soak. They said both men and women were left loitering, crawling and rolling over each other on the cold wet floor with urine all over the place. They asserted that some of them were totally unconscious and only opened their eye balls without uttering a world.
Imam Bojang said he refused to drink the concoction and did not bath in it either. He said he categorically refused to succumb to the orders given to him. He said that among the 60 people he was the only one who was conscious throughout their two day ordeal in the hands of the men in uniform and the witch doctors.
Imam Bojang said he saw men and women with his naked eyes collapsing and falling on each other as they struggled to stand up. He stated that he could not believe his eyes when he saw the old men and women who are respected people and religious leaders of his village half naked, saying and doing all kinds of ungodly things.
They said they were bathed in and drank the said concoction on two occasion; on the day they were taken away, Wednesday 28 January and the next day, Thursday 29 January.
They said throughout their ordeal a video camera man was taking shots of the whole incident, from Jambur to the “concentration” camp.
They noted that at some points a man would come with a note book and to interrogate those that made silly remarks and acted stupidly.
They said they were given little food on Wednesday; that in fact they could not even eat as their throats and tongues were very sticky.
They pointed out that on Thursday evening they were put in the same bus and taken back home amid intoxication. They said many of them could not disembark from the bus, and had to be carried out like dead bodies. They said there was an out cry in the village when their kindred saw them carrying their parents like body bags arriving from the battle field. They said their clothes were still soaked in urine. They noted that as they started to disembark from the bus there was an outcry in the village as relatives and loved ones rushed to the scene to carry them home. They indicated that many stumbled as they walked to their homes and had to be assisted.
They denied the claim of Alkalo Kebba Juju Bojang that they gave themselves up to the witch doctors on their own free will for their long time ailment to be cured. All of them stated that they have no ailment that would warrant them to give themselves to the so-called witch doctors. They asserted that many ungodly acts were performed at the cemetery where many godly men and women were resting in their perfect peace.
They said up to the time of the interview some of them were still feeling the effects of the concoction on them. In particular, they noted that some were still sick in bed and that many could not still stand the embarrassment and humiliation meted out to them; that many now prefer to stay indoors to avoid the public. They said some are not performing their daily prayers at the village mosque because the humiliation and effects of their ordeal is still traumatizing.
Another two youths, namely Buba (Faye) Bojang and Seedy Sanyang, said they were arrested but subsequently released without condition. Faye said he followed the witch doctors, the Alkalo, a man named Momodou Fatou Bojang, the men in military uniform, ‘green boys and girls’ every where they went to study the situation. He said someone in plain clothes gave him two nasty slaps and hand cuffed him, he was later released.
Seedy said he was handcuffed by two men in military uniform and taken to where Lieutenant Solo Bojang was, but he was later released.
This reporter made efforts since on Thursday 5tth February, up to the eleven hour of going to press to get the Public Relations Officer of the Gambia Armed Forces, for him to explain the involvement of military officer and men in this incident but to no avail. He was finally got in touch with but said he was out of the jurisdiction and was just arriving. The matter was explained to him but he asked the reporter to get to him today.