EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: An alleged victim of former President Yahya Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunting exercise has told the TRRC that she immediately fainted as lost consciousness when he drank the concoction portion that that she was forced to drink by witch-doctors.
Testifying before the Commission at its public hearing in Sibanorr on Wednesday, Fatou Darboe said upon arrival in Kanilai after being abducted from Sintet alongside others, they were served with food which she refused to eat and they were later bathed and given the concoction to drink.
“After drinking the concoction, I fainted and lost conscious for the whole of that night. When I entered the bathroom, a man asked me to undress and when I did, he bathed me and gave me almost one liter of the concoction. I fainted just as I wore my clothes. I was unaware of the happenings around me for the whole night,” Mrs Darboe said.
The mother of 7 children at the time of the exercise said she worked as a farmer and gardener then, saying she went to pay condolences to a family at a nearby village when she received the news of the coming of the witch-hunters.
“Upon receiving news of the coming of the witch-hunters, I rushed home to ensure that my family is safe. However, two men stopped me on my way home and ordered me to board the bus after one of the men in red and white inspected my palms,” she said.
Mrs Darboe, who is commonly called Nabi Tamba said as she was going towards the bus, she could see people being forced out of their houses to board the vehicles by men she identify as soldiers. She also narrated that people who refused to board the bus were beaten with sticks by those soldiers. “As I was being escorted towards the bus, I saw soldiers forcing people out of their home to board the bus. The bus was filled to the extent that some had to stand. One bus carried women only and the two other vehicles carried men only. Some people refused to enter the bus but they were beaten by the soldiers with sticks.”
The old woman explained that due to the absorption of the concoction, some people suffered from diarrhea and others had their intestines damaged, leading to their death.
Mrs Darboe said after three days of resistance, she decided to admit to being a witch in order to be released, saying the impact of the concoction on her health was adversely negative. “From that time on, I developed high blood, frequent fatigue and skin irritation. Since the exercise to date, I have been also unable to continue my work and that has affected my children as they had to work to take care of me.”
She said the experience she went through during the witch-hunting exercise had caused psychological implications on her as the memories of the exercise still linger in her mind. “I fear that these disturbing thoughts may follow me until my last breath. Since that day to date, I have been unable to forget what happened to me. To be accused of being a witch or wizard destroys and bring a person to a lower level and until he or she dies.”
It could be recalled that in 2009, former president Jammeh initiate a witch hunt exercise witch seemingly targeted the poor and the elderly. In a bid to heal the wounds of the people victimized by the exercise, the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission is hearing from the alleged victims and witnesses of the incident with sittings currently taking place in Sibanorr, Foni.
Story written by Fatou Jarju