EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Former July 22nd Beauty Queen, Fatou Toufah Jallow, Thursday morning testified before the TRRC where she told the Commission that her participation in former president Yahya Jammeh’s organised beauty pageant was inspired by the previous contests.
Ms Jallow testified in in connection to her rape allegation against Mr Jammeh. She is the first girl to make public accusation of rape against Mr Jammeh, following a public campaign she launched in June, demanding Mr Jammeh to be brought to justice for raping her, and perhaps many other young girls during his 22-year rule of the tiny West African nation.
At age 18 at the time of the pageant, Ms Jallow told the Commission in her Thursday testimony that the incident occurred when she had just graduated from high school and was enrolled as a freshman student at the Gambia College. She explained to the Commission her reasons for joining the competition and what she expected.
“The driving force behind me participating in the pageant was inspired by the previous July 22nd pageants and I saw this as an opportunity to further my education overseas because that was all I wanted at the time,” she said.
Shortly after winning the 2014 beauty pageant, Ms Jallow traveled to Canada where she was offered asylum in 2015, from where she started the campaign two years after the fall of Mr Jammeh in the 2016 general elections. In July, Ms Jallow came to The Gambia and was celebrated as a heroin for having the bravery to be the first girl to publicly expose Mr Jammeh’s mafia tactics while disguising himself as a faithful man who has fear in Allah.
The 2014 July 22nd pageant winner said alongside other winners and participants of the competition, the president availed them an unofficial courtesy call where the former leader gave them D50, 000 each.
According to Toufah, the official courtesy call came in December at statehouse where each of the winners, including herself was given a cash prize of D200, 000, a laptop and a box that contained a gold coin.
She explained that as the events became very frequent to the detriment of her education, she missed a lot of her lecture in school. “I had to be present at the events when they became very frequent and I missed so many school days which raised a concern for my school mistress who complaint to my mum about it.”
In what seemed to be personal visits, Toufah told the Commission that on two occasions, she had been invited by the president through Jimbe Jammeh, where she discussed her project with him and she was given D100, 000 after the second visit to implement her project.
Ms Jallow revealed that the president offered her the position of protocol officer which she declined. “The president offered me to become a protocol officer but I declined, knowing how clumsy I am. I told him I can only accept the offer after I complete my studies abroad and gained a little experience and I believe he understood this.”
Fatou Toufah Jallow will continue with a detailed testimony on human rights abuses that she alleged to have been meted out to her by former president Jammeh.