EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Thirty-six-year-old Neneh Babu from North Bank Region community of Essau said she was in an 8-month heavy pregnancy when former President Yahya Jammeh’s witch-hunters abducted her and her mother-in-law on the pretext that they were sick and should be given medicine.
Mrs Babu appeared before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission –TRRC- on Thursday in their public hearing on the 2009 witch-hunting exercise in Essau, where she gave accounts of how she and others were abducted and forced to drink the witch-hunters’ concoction.
She told the commission that she was with her husband, mother-in-law, cowife and sister-in-law under a mongo tree in their compound when the witch-hunters arrived with two soldiers and started inspecting the compound without speaking to anyone.
“They started rounding the compound without a word to anyone and when they came towards us, a man in red clothes pointed his mirror towards my stomach when I was eight months pregnant, and asked me to come with him to the bus to drink some herbs because the sickness was in my stomach,” she said.
Mrs Babu said she refused to follow the man to the bus but her husband interfered and asked her to go with them, hence it was about the government. She said she obeyed her husband and went with the man, alongside her mother-in-law who, they said was also having a sickness and needs to drink the herbs.
“When we entered the bus, I noticed that it was fill up with people. I couldn’t count the number of people because I couldn’t raise my head up due to shame because the villagers who were standing outside were saying that we are witches.”
She said they waited in the bus for about 2 to 3 hours and when the witch-hunters came, she asked them to give her the herbs so that she can go, but one of them said she have to go with them. “I was forcefully taken away because going was against my wish,” she said.
The mother of three further explained that when they arrived at the location they took them, they were taken into an open room in a compound with no sitting or sleeping facility. She said she could not sit on the floor tiles because she was heavily pregnant.
She said while there, she saw the men started to take them one after the other to go and drink the concoction, saying she observed that anyone of them who drink the concoction will be acting weird.
Mrs Babu alleged that she was forced to drink the concoction because she had told the men that due to her condition, she can finish drinking a whole cup of the concoction. “My mother-in-law later intervened and told the soldiers that they are wicked to me by failing to consider my condition but they never responded to her. I insisted that I was not going to finish the portion and if they want they can kill me because I don’t mind at that moment.”
She said after leaving the room, her mother-in-law started to vomit, which led to her madness. She said for her –Mrs Babu- she still suffers from waste and abdomen pain since she was maltreated.
“I dint eat or drink anything apart from the concoction they gave me to drink. They did not even provided me any mattress to sleep on. I spend the night on the floor,” she said.
Story written by Isatou Tamba