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The Fallacy of Defending Kukoi

The Fallacy of Defending Kukoi

By: Kaba Sallah

Many people are being caught up in the emotional exertion of energy to save Kukoi from extradition to The Gambia to face justice for Crimes against Humanity in the abortive coup of July 1981. As coup leader, Kukoi Samba Sanyang’s actions, directly and indirectly, led to the deaths of hundreds of Gambian citizens, and dozens of Senegalese nationals as well. The 1981 abortive was the most transformational and most destructive event in Gambian history up that point, in terms of the loss of life and damage to property, both public and private.   It affected a significant percentage of the population, both urban and rural. The majority of The Gambia’s population lives in a 25 mile radius just by dint of the nature of the morphology of the country, and centralization of public and private investment resources.

Not much has been written about this fateful event, and there is a lot of myth surrounding what actually happened, however, those whose lives were directly affected can and should never forget those eight days. My father was killed as he tried to protect his small business from the enraged and misguided looters in Banjul. Our lives were changed forever, our pain and loss was irreversible and we never recovered! In my opinion, it behooves everybody, or it is incumbent on everyone to educate themselves on the abortive coup. I know one thing is for sure; they will get a better   understand that when human beings are consumed with the unnatural and egoistic desire for power, they can cause a lot of destruction and unnecessary human suffering.

Such people should and will be brought to justice to serve a lesson for future generations that only societies who uphold the rule of law and hold people accountable for their actions, will thrive and develop beyond the physical. One thing is clear, Kukoi Samba Sanyang’s crimes preceded the Yaya Jammeh regime, and while the current regime itself is setting new standards in its disregard for human rights, the former has never answered for his wrongs. There is a case to be made as to where, and under what conditions should Kukoi be tried. The conditions in The Gambia, as they stand today, will not allow for a fair trial.   My family was a victim of the Kukoi’s actions, and I do not agree to Kukoi being extradited to Yahja Jammeh’s Kangaroo court. Jammeh is committing crimes as we speak, and they are being documented thoroughly, however, these two events are not mutually exclusive! 

It would be highly hypocritical for the diaspora and Gambians at large to try to minimize or diminish the the impact of that transformative event in 1981. The mastermind of that destructive event was Kukoi Samba Sanyang, and he has never answered or accounted for his actions. The July 1981 event destroyed the economy, caused the deaths of some 600, some estimates say over 1000 people, including my father. There is an unmarked grave for the unknown located between the old Muslim and Christian cemeteries in Banjul!  Kukoi is a fugitive and has been on the run for 30 years, but old age, his health and the change in the international political dynamics is making it hard for him to find new patrons. Over time, Kukoi has developed or refined his survivalist skills of living under the radar, under the nose of the law, with multiple personalities. He is a cunning, smooth and bombastic communicator and a linguist as well. He is a verbal hypnotist and can easily lull people into feeling sorry for him, as he mesmerizes them with his command of the defunct and failed Marxist, Leninist ideology. He has a mythical and mysterious air about him, and he is able to make the innocent or ignorant romanticize about his quixotic exploits and travels. Kukoi has successfully developed an online following of people who are fascinated by the myth that surrounds him, even though he has no record of tangible achievements where it mattered – home!. He systematically built the following over a three year period through his incoherent ramblings.  Once he was convinced he had built this online and distant audience, he started to call and talk to the online radio stations to further enhance his status. He has successfully aligned himself with the online political opposition to Yaya Jammeh, and he has inserted himself in the discourse.

It is amazing how Gambians have been mesmerized  by Kukoi’s  claims to have met and break bread with every rogue and notorious  leader who participated directly and indirectly in destroying West Africa  – from Liberia, to Sierra Leone, to Burkina Faso, to Mali. Kukoi has admitted to rubbing shoulders with some of biggest drug barons in West Africa, including Bissau’s Adm. Bubo Na Tchuto ( in U.S . custody) , while implicating his host country Senegal, for harboring the late Lasana Conteh’s son, a known drug dealer! Kukoi is truly ubiquitous, either by design or by some mysterious gravitational force that always seems to place him in the midst of the biggest events! His admitted actions border on international criminality. He is just his old self;   egoistic, and a compulsive liar who claims to have done and seen it all. In fact, as a fugitive, he had to constantly make up a new lie to cover the old one, just to keep living under multiple aliases and personalities, and that is understandable! The point here is that some people have misplaced their sympathies and hopes. It is dangerous to allow ourselves get blinded by our hatred for the Jammeh regime. People need to stop looking for a savior; Kukoi is certainly not the one! We need to put our money and support behind tested, legitimate and brave people on the ground, not in a lost cause like Kukoi. The recent Banjul mayoral elections are a good indication of what is possible! The capital city of Banjul is now being led, for the second time, by an Independent candidate, Bah.

By making all those claims and allegations, while living underground in Senegal, Kukoi made his country take a drastic action by expelling him out of the country. Senegal, as the most democratic country in Africa, has a long history of providing a haven for political prisoners all over Africa. The actions taken against Kukoi only affected him and not the numerous other refugees still living quietly in the country. Senegal is too big a country and an important power player to be intimated by calls to welcome Kukoi back in their country. Kukoi violated the conditions under which he was allowed to stay in the country; no country will allow him in after his claims and admissions!

Finally, just because your family was not directly affected by the abortive coup led by Kukoi in 1981, does not mean that the latter cannot be held accountable. That is a dangerous precedent we will be setting. If Jammeh agrees to resign and go into exile today, does that mean we should not hold him accountable 30 years later? Those who did not know should educate themselves instead, and convert their rage against Yaya Jammeh into supporting political alternatives on the ground. The independent candidates in The Gambia, and those in fight in Diaspora, such Online papers and radio,   need our financial support, and not just the endless rage Online that amounts to nothing! Kukoi is a lost cause, he may have evaded the long arms of justice for 30 years, but he cannot escape old age and nature; one of the three will get to him sooner than he thinks. Good day.


Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 (Archive on Friday, May 31, 2013)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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