‘TRRC Digest Edition 10 is out! The 10th session focused on the witch-hunt campaign ordered by Yahya Jammeh against mostly elderly men and women accused of witchcraft in The Gambia. Read the testimonies here ‘ANEKED (African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings & Enforced Disappearances)
“Green Boys and magicians came around the village, singing, drumming, and dancing, and targeted NRP (UDP) opposition party members” Doudou Sanyang
The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. Dodou Sanyang, in the room of his recently deceased mother, Naa Joni Sonko. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys, and ‘magicians’ from Guinea, went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches.
The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten, and robbed by their captors. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold – Essau, Northbank Division, The Gambia.
“I was kept for five days. When they forced me to take the medicine (‘Kubehjaro’ a hallucinogenic substance), I could no longer stand up… I fell down on the ground… ” Sankung Balajo
In isolation between a ‘Rock and a Hot Place‘ – we arrived in the UK just over a month ago, for a short break from our assignments in The Gambia, West Africa. We had intended to head to the small island of Malta, which we have called our other home for the past five years. After this, we planned to return to The Gambia to continue our projects.
However, the days following our return to the UK Malta closed its airport, soon followed by The Gambia. So, we find ourselves grounded, literally, here in the UK at my mother’s house – waiting for the skies to open again. In the meantime, I watch her English country garden slowly break bud and bloom, and Helen as the light finds her in our roost above the barn – whilst, all the time wildly conscious of the struggle around us, the fight for life… Jason Florio
Tuesday 24th March, 2020: The first day of the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s lockdown to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Central London the streets were abnormally quiet, it felt as if nearly all of society had been sieved away, and only the homeless were left on the almost deserted streets. London has an estimated 170,000 homeless.