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Knowing Saja Taal
By An Observer insider
Fellow Gambians, I have a story to share with you. Before proceeding, let me first introduce myself. I am a staff of the Daily Observer. I wine and dine with Saja Taal and co everyday and so, I don't only have a good and credible insight of Saja Taal and the Daily Observer but the very source of lunacy emanating from this company and its rotten leadership are in my hands, and will be mentioned here. Exposing Yahya Jammeh and his bandwagon-full of greedy, hypocritical and selfish stooges is a national call. I am here in the Daily Observer to help document most of Jammeh's dictatorial and brutal secrets for posterity. I will, and am finding time to serialize such with Gambians which will without doubt, be very useful in the day of reckoning when Jammeh, Saja, Isatou Njie-Saidy, Neneh-Macdouall and the rest would be chained and made to trot along the court corridors on Independence Drive.
My job here is to expose the lair and hypocrite in Saja Taal beyond redemption. Before arguing his latest deceptive and hypocritical outburst against the Freedom Newspaper, I will give a little profile of this clown for all to know who really he is. The fact is, this rude act and misbehavior of Saja Taal is not only an attack on the Freedom Newspaper and its editor Pa Nderry M'bai, but a sheer insult at all Gambians, thus my decision to join the fight to put this dunderhead calling himself Managing Director, lecturer cum contributor towards national development, to rest once and for all. And I challenge him to react or dare attempt to defend himself for me to drop the final clanger on him.
Saja Taal is a confused man in his real self. His family is set up in the very ambiguity that he strides on. A half Gambian, Saja Taal's father and mother migrated from northern Senegal, in the mid 19s and settled in Banjul. He doesn't even know whether he is a Tukulor or Wollof. Born 64 years ago, Saja Taal grew up in a slummy poor area of Banjul in the Lasso Wharf catchment area of Kent Street. No sooner had he graduated from toddlerhood, had he frequented the streets barefooted and with shredded rags. Many remember his late parents for their notoriety of always beating him for his recidivistic attitude of fighting, truancy and total opposition to bathing.
Before he completed his primary school, Alieu Badara Saja Taal had been at the centre stage of the notorious Kent Street Vous playing cards, gambling, fighting and accosting innocent girls. It wasn't surprising however when he failed his Common Entrance examinations. Because of this exam failure, he went to Crab Island Secondary Technical School because he could not go to High School with the low marks he had scored. He later proceeded to High School upon completion of the long route through Secondary Technical School. From there, he taught at secondary technical school level briefly before proceeding to Sierra Leone for Advanced Level (A'Level) studies. There, his metaphorically recidivistic tendencies reached an appalling level when he turned himself a Chris-Mus (both Christian and Muslim which Islam sees as outright hypocrisy). He later returned to The Gambia with such believes before returning overseas for educational pursuits at degree level. After his first degree, he did a masters in Political Science and did his doctorate degree with a 25,000-word thesis – but guesss in what? In Tourism Development! I repeat, Tourism Development. This is all Saja Taal is bursting around in The Gambia with claiming to be an intellectual who is contributing towards national development. For God and heaven's sake, what intellectualism is that all about? What intellectualism is there in 'Tourism Development'? Well, before reaching the Saja Taal intellectualism litter, let me simmer down first and allow the narration to reach there. After completing education in Australia, Saja decided to stay there for a whole decade with a white lady. Doing nothing all this while. I emphasize, the 'intellectual' Chris-Mus was doing nothing but being beside this lady with whom he lived with like a wife.
When the lady abandoned the so-called intellectual, Saja Taal, out of head-rambling despair, returned home wandering the streets of Banjul. Some Banjul elders later approached nepotic senior civil servants in the Jawara government which act earned Saja Taal a job. He then entered a public service in which he served for a long time in different departments and different capacities ranging from ordinary civil servant at the Tourism and Culture directorate to permanent secretary at the Office of the President and later department of state for Education. All this while, Saja Taal achieved nothing. All he did was procrastination of the execution of projects, endless gossiping, hypocrisy, pettiness and undermining co-workers.
Two things that might interest people are: When Saja Taal was Permanent Secretary (PS) at both Office of the President (OP) and Education. While at the OP, Saja was Yahya Jammeh's Ganja (cannabis) transactor and co-smoker. Saja Taal still brags of that in the open for having had the opportunity to sit with Yahya Jammeh at the Statehouse lawn till dawn drinking Green Tea (Attaya) and smoking Ganja. This is exactly how he was able to secure a government land allocation at Fajara, opposite the golf course. This man people are calling intellectual is proud of that shameful act! It was during these sessions that one-eared Yahya Jammeh listened to this mafia to get many public servants and political opponents sacked and imprisoned. Unbeknown to Saja, lairs are never respected but used and disposed of. This is what happened to him at the end of the day – Saja was sent to the Education ministry. There, he used his pettiness and arrogance to deny many deserving students their rights to scholarships. Most of those students denied scholarships are today wandering the streets of Banjul without their degrees which they hoped to obtain long time ago. He used politics to deny poor students the right to learn simply because he thought they were not supporting the Gambian tyrant, Yahya Jammeh.
And yet again, this same intellectual prostitute was used and disposed of. Because of his pettiness, wickedness and callous tendencies, the dictator hired Saja Taal again as Administrative Secretary of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) party. This is where Saja really showed his ability to serve his master as a real stooge and sychophant who could harm and undermine anybody to do just that. He would continually lam at and use petty reasons to cause the arrest, sacking and imprisonment of innocent souls. Very lethal he is! Because he was doing everything possible to appease his master, the dictator, Saja got washed off by the waves of a sudden deluge he never expected. Thus, he resorted to walking the streets all over and settling at a new Ganja vous in Bakau Mamokoto. He would tell any willing ear that the jailing of Baba Jobe and others was good because according to him, it was the same person who caused his sacking from the ruling party's bureau.
Because he was on the brink of starving to death with hardly any fares to settle his transport bills, Saja decided to join the University of The Gambia as a junior lecturer. I mean junior lecturer, not senior lecturer; not professor, for the sake of clarity. There he was, pretending to teach the students political science when the only thing he performed well was to indoctrinate the innocent students towards 'Jammehism'. There also, he kept on undermining people like Dr Boro Suso and many others simply for their political inclinations.
Shortly after the killing of Leading Editor Deyda Hydara, Saja was made deputy to Neneh Macdouall Gaye by Yahya Jammeh in the newly formed Observer board of governors. That was another field day for Saja Taal to return close to the chambers of power. In order to appease the tyrant, Saja together with others, ordered the sacking of Ndey Tapha Sosseh, then editor of Observer, simply because she joined the rest of the Gambian media on a week-long blackout to protest the murder of the leading journalist. Sheriff Bojang, then managing director found it so hard to do the sacking that he was ordered to do, that he had to send a mere text (SMS) message to Ndey Tapha asking her to proceed on leave. And before many knew what was going on, a replacement for the embattled young female editor was announced.
Barely four months later, Saja Taal convinced the so-called board to sack Sheriff Bojang himself and replaced him with then editor, Momodou Sanyang. Sanyang, a weaker person than Sheriff Bojang, was made to head the pro-government media company under the direct command of his childhood friend and co-Sukutarian, Samba Bah (former SoS Interior and DG NIA) and Saja Taal. In fact, during Sanyang's era as MD of the Observer, he was intimidated by Saja to a level that Saja, as corrupt as he is, used to demand for money to settle his electricity and medical bills. I personally delivered one of such cheques of D1,500 for Saja's malarial medicine bills in 2005. During that period, Saja embarked on what he said was cleansing the Daily Observer off 'opposition elements'. His first attack was the popular Bantaba column then ran by former News Editor Omar Bah. According to Taal, Bantaba was so critical and that Omar Bah used to ask his interviewees critical questions about Yahya Jammeh. He then gave a directive that such line of questioning must stop immediately. Bah, told the management openly that he would never do that and he went ahead to stop the Bantaba in protest, than do a public relations (PR) job for the government.
On October 7, 2005, unbeknown to all and sundry, Dr Saja Taal [was on the whole eying the observer top position and] was eventually appointed managing director alongside Mam Sait Ceesay as editor, following his (Saja's) sacking of Momodou Sanyang and Editor Lamin Cham.
Upon commencement of work at the pro-government Daily Observer, Saja Taal started to show his true colours by giving unnecessary threats and orders that were uncalled for. In his first meeting with the reporters and staff of the newspaper which he administered together with Editor-In-Chief Mam Sait Ceesay, Saja Taal insulted Gambian journalists and Gambian journalism to the best of his madness! He even said that there was no journalism in the country per se but 'opposition activism'. He therefore threatened not only to sack any journalist seen to engage in such kind of journalism but to hand them over to the NIA for imprisonment. "You journalists in The Gambia are not even trained. D.A Jawo says he is your leader and is heading the media training centre when he is the biggest ignoramus. What does D.A Jawo know? Nothing absolutely, and he is the one orienting you people to be opposition journalists! Look, I am not going to allow anything other than what favours the government and the president in this paper. Observer is a pro-government newspaper, period!" Saja Taal told the meeting. This was the time the Allgambian online newspaper under the Editorship of Pa Nderry M'Bai, used to write scarthing issues against him. His young brother, Bai Mass Taal who was then SoS for Fisheries, used to print these write-ups and personally bring them to the Observer office. Saja would be raving and ranting over these, suspecting every journalist of feeding the Allgambian with information. Little did Bai Mass know that his elder brother is a sinking soul that cannot be saved.
On one occasion, Saja Taal told us that Yahya Jammeh actually owns the Daily Observer and that Amadou Samba doesn't own 'fokolf' there. He said two things that made me fear him a lot. He said he caused the sacking of two leading and independent-minded journalists from the Observer while he was working in government. These journalists are Alieu Badara Sowe and Pa Nderry M'Bai. Both journalists are investigative journalists and have suffered untold persecution in the hands of the Gambian security services.
According to Saja Taal, Observer continued to be troublesome even when the president took over its ownership thanks to these two. He said he easily got Alieu Badara Sowe in the pitch when the latter authored a lead story with the heading, "Ambassador Taal declared persona non grata". This story revealed the expulsion of Saja Taal's elder brother, Ebou Taal, from the UK where he was High Commissioner on past corruption conviction passed against him by the then Jawara government. Saja Taal and others were so angry that they used government machinery to twist then Observer editor, Sheriff Bojang to retract the story in a subsequent issue with the headline, "Ambassador Taal NOT declared persona non grata". And what followed, everybody knows. Saja went to President Jammeh to ask for the sacking of Alieu Badara Sowe. It went just like that.
Then, it became the turn of Pa Nderry M'Bai. According to Saja Taal, he shared a panel with Pa Nderry and others at a certain Radio 1 FM programme durng which Pa Nderry spoke eloquently and critically against the government. He said after the programme, he warned Pa Nderry to be careful because he could not call himself a staff of a pro-government newspaper and be critical of that government at the same time. He said when Pa Nderry failed to take heed to his warning, he used the opportunity of a problem that erupted between Pa Nderry and his Nigerian Editor Pascal Eze, to get Pa Nderry sacked.
He is still using the same tactics to attempt to threaten independent-minded journalists in the Observer. I will not name our names because that means he will hand us over to the NIA for suspicion who among the Observer journalists is writing this about him.
That was not enough, Saja Taal had a quarrel with current GPU president, Madi Ceesay, at the burial of Deyda Hydara because he was trying to insinuate that Deyda was actually the cause of the government's fatal action against him, which made Madi very mad with him.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the killing of Deyda Hydara by the government of Yahya Jammeh, Saja Taal refused to allow any journalist wearing the T-Shirt of Deyda Hydara from the International Conference at Kairaba Hotel, into the Observer office. When Ramatoulie Charreh, a female reporter of the paper was beaten by paramilitary officers when delegates at the conference were barred from laying wreath at the killing site of Deyda Hydara, instead of Saja avenging her grief, he went ahead to sack her for what he called, engaging in anti-government activities. All the journalists of the paper came together and gave her their support which forced Saja Taal to rescind his decision. But Charreh felt insulted and resigned. Also, Ousman Darboe, a reporter of the paper who witnessed the scuffle between delegates and the paramilitary, was interviewed by Radio France International (RFI) and he gave account of what he actually saw. He too was given a sacking letter. Some senior journalists of the paper seized the sacking letter from Ousman and returned it to Saja Taal and asked him to change his decision lest they would resign. The coward he is who always want to operate undercover, he changed his decision immediately.
But Saja Taal gave Deyda's Family and the journalism fraternity in the country the biggest insult when he tried to justify the killing of Deyda by the government. I still keep the copy of that editorial so that when the inevitable day of reckoning comes, Saja Taal will be one of those people to be handcuffed and thrown behind bars. He is just the criminal he is and that's all. In fact that is why he is able to cope with his co-criminal, President Yahya Jammeh. In that sad editorial, Saja wrote that the killing of Deyda Hydara by members of the security forces of The Gambia was right. He said Deyda was the cause of his death because he made the government his enemy and kept on persistently writing unnecessary things against the president.
On some occasion, Saja Taal was heard insulting Deyda saying that Deyda was not a good citizen of The Gambia and that that was why he took a clear line of always writing positive things about the Senegalese government and negative things against that of The Gambia. He even said that he would do everything possible to kill the memory of the highly respectable journalist. But what happened, Saja Taal has woefully failed because Deyda is even more popular today than when he was alive, save in the eyes of Saja Taal, Yahya Jammeh and their gang of killers.
At the moment, Saja Taal is planning to set up a parallel pro-government journalists' union to the GPU. The aim of this impending organisation will be to defang the GPU just like the Napsa did to Gamsu. The plans are underway and I have vowed to keep on updating the Gambia people about it so as to help the GPU counter it in any way possible. This man is a wild stooge who needs to be stopped as quickly as possible.
Saja Taal is a reckless, untidy, criminal and uncivilized being. He often comes to the office without brushing his teeth and will be offending anybody who comes to contact with him. His mouth smells very seriously. But the secret of this rotten mouth is not unknown. Added to not-brushing-his-teeth, Saja is serious smoker of Cannabis and cigarette. Hardly an hour passes without Saja polluting our office with the smoke of the drug which he puffs inside his office washroom. The worst of it all is that when he smokes this cannabis, he becomes very wild and unreasonable and keeps on giving hard time and suspicion to everybody in the office. He is just the idiot he is. One day, he smoked cannabis to the extent that he came to the office with a torn pair of trousers. Shamelessly and carelessly, the booze drug addict tucked his only new red long-sleeved shirt inside his trousers so that the texturally dilapidated trousers were better exposed for public view.
Worse still, he was not wearing any underpants and that made it a disgusting sight since the harmattan had whitened the buttocks very seriously, with scratches of his fingernails. The whole office kept on laughing helplessly the whole day while the drunken clown was roaming round the office issuing his usual threats against workers. Thanks to the magnanimity of a certain secretary, Saja was informed of the comedy which made him hurry back home to change the ragged and shredded pair of trousers. But we at the Observer are now used to this shabby manager. He always comes to the office untidy and shabbily dressed. Saja is also a very shameless person.
Last year, during the convocation ceremony of the University of The Gambia at the Independence Stadium, while he was standing with President Jammeh stating his usual hypocritical line of lies, a guard came forward to handover an amount of D2000 to Jammeh and the moment Saja saw that, he kept on begging the president in to give it to him in that huge gathering until Jammeh had to do so. I was so ashamed to see him behave with such level of greed and shamelessness in that public. This is why Jammeh does not and will never respect people like Saja – they don't respect themselves.
When his job at the University of The Gambia (UTG) was reduced to a Part-time job because of his engagement at the Daily Observer, Saja was so furious that he employed his pettiness and lies to write and petition President Jammeh demanding the sacking of Education SoS Fatou Faye, UTG Administrator Lamin Jaiteh, Vice Chancellor Steigan, and Dr Boro Suso. He even went to the extent of accusing Fatou Faye of being girlfriend of Lamin Jaiteh in that letter and accused Boro Suso, an opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) member and friend and relative of its leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, of undermining the efforts of the President at the university. Little did he know that The Gambia cannot afford to lose these great minds for a buffoon like him. To date, Jammeh did not take action against any of these people and Saja Taal's job at the UTG is now part-time lecturer.
This man is wild and dangerous. He is the one who handed Chief Manneh over to the NIA. This guy still languishes unnecessarily at the Janjanbureh prisons for merely reprinting a BBC story on the Observer international news page which Saja Taal saw as critical of President Jammeh. What is the crime in that? Tell me, what crime? Not false but deemed critical! Saja Taal will pay for the price sooner or later for causing this young family breadwinner to continue to be tortured and detained for almost one year now. He also handed over Modou Sonko, our chief lithographer for merely doing a service for Daily Express inside the Observer premises. Sonko is one of us whom he has always been threatening with sacking or imprisonment here and he has now succeeded because Sonko spent two solid days at the NIA under the cruelest of torture.
Saja caused the closure of The Independent and the arrest of their editor and manager Musa Saidykhan and Madi Ceesay respectively last year. He often brags of it.
The worst thing about Saja Taal is that he is a lair. All these letters people see in the letters page of the Observer either attacking or reacting to people are carrying fake names. Their author is Saja Taal. Period! Even recently, he wrote that so-called letter written by a certain Musa Jobarteh in Serrekunda. It was a lie. Saja actually wrote the letter threatening everybody in the office for not doing enough to protect him. That is why he again came up with another article pretending that it was the Observer staff who jointly wrote it in his defence. It is also a blatant lie! Saja wrote it. I have to make this clear once and for all.
Saja Taal is hell-bent on serving President Jammeh by all means necessary. He is on record of saying that he still advises President Jammeh reminiscent in his part in the closing down of the Independent and Ctizen FM. He still brags around that he was the force behind the closure of these leading media outlets. I must reiterate here that Saja Taal is a dirty presidential functionary and his association with Neneh Macdouall-Gaye is nothing but evil. These people are so dangerous that they are now destroying the very fabric of the Gambian society.
Recently, the Freedom Newspaper declared that Observer sales have drastically fallen. This was vehemently denied by Saja Taal following an apparent threat on the circulation and production managers. He publicly threatened to throw Baba Drammeh, the production manager, to jail if such disclosures persist. Baba only had peace of mind when Saja found out that Baba was not the one who made that disclosure to the Freedom Newspaper. But the gist of the matter is that, what Freedom reported was true. People don't buy the Observer nowadays. Even APRC supporters don't buy the paper because they usually find nothing in it to read about. What sustains the paper at present is the forced advertising of public corporations and forced subscriptions by all public offices. Even these public offices hardly read it and thus, a copy of the Observer can lie in an office the whole day without being read, because officials usually busy themselves in reading the Freedom Newspaper and other online publications or even The Point.
Saja has reduced the Observer to mere garbage and I can say 90 per cent of us working here today are just doing so to earn a living. Nothing more, nothing less. We all abhor Saja Taal's daily raving and ranting over silly things he call unfavorable to the Jammeh dictatorship. It is through this scheme he was able to cause the sacking of his comrade-in-crime, Mama Sait Ceesay, former editor of the paper who now only works at State House as deputy to his former junior, JT Kujabi.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 02, 2007 (Archive on Monday, June 18, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI Contributed by PNMBAI