WHY GHOST WITNESSES AT THE TRRC?

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It is really disheartening to see the Gambia’s despicable TRRC hitting the skids this low to where supposedly credible witnesses testifying have to hide their identities, appear anonymous or suspiciously “ghostly”. The TRRC, a state-sanctioned commission to gather truthful evidence from credible witnesses on how the AFPRC/ APRC government and former President Yahya Jammeh had from 1994 to 2016 allegedly violated the human rights of people or committed crimes against humanity for possible consequential hypothesis shouldn’t, in my view, entertain anonymous witnesses. Too spooky for my taste!
After all, recognizing the pervasive and popular practice of traditional healers in the whole Senegambia region over any imaginable ailment, the idea of former President Jammeh trying to act like one shouldn’t be that of a big deal. Besides, I don’t think there had ever been any law passed in the country that forbade a head of state or any of our traditional-medicine doctors from offering their services or products to the agreeable population. Contrary to the accusations that Jammeh was forcing people into his treatment program, I seriously believe that every patient under his care voluntarily registered on their choice as had done by Lt. Colonel Lamin Gano, his former ADC and his family members.
However if this new transitional government or TRRC is really serious about criminalizing our traditional healers whose credentials, we all know, are not tenable in any modern-medical school of thought, the basis on which “Chief Prosecutor” Essa Faal is leading all witnesses to confirm, why not emphasize the enactment of laws banning the whole god-darn practice nationally? Because while members of the TRRC are trying to demonize Jammeh for becoming a healer, the practitioners in the community tend to swell in numbers and popularity rather than diminish.
As a matter-of fact, for being so institutionalized in the Gambia, there has not been a single day when I have not tuned on to our radio airwaves and hear about all kinds of healers from different tribes marketing their services and products on from how to cure high blood pressure or hypertension, erectile disfunction, infertility, insomnia, cataract, demon possession, witchcrafts to every imaginable common or uncommon disease generally complained by the population. Therefore, if we continue to embrace them without having any doubts about their scientifically unproven effectiveness or failed to acknowledge their flawed existence in the manner Essa Faal describes them-hoaxers and liars-then trying to impress the world that the TRRC or this country is serious about tackling the “scam” will look too absurd.
Obviously, it may be unheard of for a head of state to be a traditional healer but I don’t see any crime in President Jammeh being one; and I also strongly believe that despite his reported failures or shortcomings by his patients speaking before the TRRC, like most or all traditional or modern doctors, he may have genuinely believed in his medicines and special powers and had throughout had good intentions to cure rather than hurt his patients.
What is I fact wrong with allowing him to come and explain himself before any conclusion are drawn?
So Essa Faal calling him a liar to denigrate him is as good as calling every doctor who had failed in the process of trying to cure his or her patient a hoaxer and liar. The idea of expunging “medical malpractice” and conveniently replacing it with “outlaw hoaxers and liar” should be considered in Essa’s land.
You see, Uncle Gibby who once suffered a minor stroke that paralyzed half his face was more convinced by Arfang Dembajarro that he was slapped by an angry demon residing in the baobab tree by his house than Dr. Trawalleh’s prognoses about his arteries being almost clogged by bad cholesterol that nearly killed him. So please Essa, help me on this one, who is the “hoaxers and liar” here factoring the patient’s judgement?
Hence, I would prefer the conclusion drawn by Jammeh’s former ADC, Lt. Colonel Lamin Gano for saying that the president’s medicines simply failed when applied rather than decrying it as outright hoax and lies.
By the way why not for a moment pause and honestly consider what may have actually motivated President Jammeh into becoming a healer?
Since infancy or well before that, my parents and grandparents had narrated with conviction how among traditional healers in the Gambia, Kaninlai Village, Jammeh’s birthplace, had always been hailed for having the best with their healers endowed with supernatural powers. Fajikunda, Bakau Katchikalli, Buiba, Buduck and several other places were also renowned for their great healers. But when it came to Kaninlai Village and especially about curing fractured bones within the Senegambia region even modern medical doctors would often refer their patients to seek treatment there for faster and more effective healing. The treatment center in Kaninlai is still active and still being visited by Gambians and Senegalese for treatment. It’s effectiveness has never been challenged or questioned by the state, the Gambians or Mr. Essa-know-it-all Faal. Hence, denouncing and condemning Jammeh for claiming to have inherited his knowledge from his ancestors, as often claimed by other practicing traditional healers is at best hypocritical and at worst unconscionable.
That said, I therefore find it totally disheartening for reasonable witnesses who probably have actively participated in supporting Jammeh’s healing exercises to appear before the TRRC as ghost witnesses. How do we know that these anonymous witnesses are the people they are claiming to be and not uncles or brothers to Essa Faal who would stop at nothing to portray former President Jammeh as the monster of the millennium?
So what, if President Jammeh had lied about anything before? Almost all human beings at some point or another in their lives have lied about something or somebody, whether for good or bad intentions; and presidents or heads of state are no exceptions including Jammeh.
Thanks to the creation of the Fact-Checker’s database in the USA President Donald Trump in his first three years in office has been proven to have made 16,241 false or misleading claims that perfectly fit the denotation of Essa Faal’s liar and hoaxer. Does that make the American president any better in character than Jammeh especially during this deadly pandemic in which the death of over 40,000 people in the USA has been attributed to Trump’s misleading statements to the public about the negligible contagiousness and fatality of the disease?
Anyway, given our closely knitted society and the propensity of the inquisitive-driven journalists like Pa Nderry Mbai of the Freedom Radio and Newspaper in the USA the ghost witness at the TRRC on Wednesday, October 14, was unveiled to be Dr. Saihou Sabally who was since Jammeh’s era been in charge of the Gambia government HIV/Aids infection and management program.
Why in God’s name was the commission hiding Dr. Sabally’s identity? I really want to know. If it was to just agree with Essa Faal that Jammeh was a liar and that his HIV/Aids treatment a hoax, which Essa as expected virtually led him into saying so, what was so special about that to warrant his camouflage and concealment? If our medical doctors can have the courage to openly denounce traditional healing by Jammeh, I think they should be bold enough to include the myriad of healers and witch-doctors strewn all over the Gambia and beyond and see how they will glow.
If we have to exclusively adopt the scientific approach to medicine and healing with no tolerance for traditional doctors as Essa is trying to impress on the world why not task him with the duty of spearheading the crusade to finally eradicate all these liars and hoaxers? He probably like most of his peers would regularly visit these liars and hoaxers for his personal protection and welfare.
Amazingly, it was also revealed that the next ghost witness to testify on Wednesday, the 14 but had to call it off when his cover was blown was none other than Dr. Tamsir Mbow, the principal medical assistant or right-hand man of Jammeh who had always assisted him at his clinic.
I don’t think any Gambian expect Dr. Tamsir Mbow and, yes, Dr. Malick Njie to openly denounce Jammeh’s healing program when they were at every moment of it, explaining and even encouraging people to give it a try.
You see, it was in fact very surprising when Essa Faal deliberately avoided asking the Mrs. Awa Ndow the lab-technician to clearly identify which Dr. Njie she was referring to as then Health Minister who had ordered her from the RVH laboratory to report for duty at Jammeh’s Kaninlai-treatment center.
Essa has always been very hawkish about identifying such “enablers” and humiliating them as if the credibility of the TRRC depends on it.
However, why for transparency and accountability, the TRRC wouldn’t invite Dr. Assan Jaye, the frank Veterinarian witness and maybe Dr. Saihou Sabally, the hidden witness, on one side, to speak against the practice of traditional healers and healing including that of President Jammeh’s and Dr. Tamsir Mbow and Dr. Malick Njie on the other to defend it since they had all along been quite comfortable with the practice and had indeed brazenly assisted Jammeh in every stage of his treatment?
But to have any of these doctors opting to appear as ghost or anonymous witnesses is outrageously suspicious.
I think offering Yankuba Touray the privilege of appearing as an anonymous witness would have certainly saved him the indefinite incarceration and trumped up charges against him seemingly aimed at destroying his life. Don’t you agree?
Thanks for reading.
SAMSUDEEN SARR
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
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