The Chief Imam of Detroit Islamic Center has called on Gambians to “invest their energy, time and resources in liberating their country from tyranny.” In his weekly Mandinka sermon on Kairo Radio, Imam Momodou Ceesay said it was about time that Gambians defended themselves from President Yahya Jammeh who “is worse than Fir’awn [the most tyrannical Pharaoh of Egypt]. “Despite all his wickedness and arrogance, Fir’awn had killed male babies but protected females.”
Read below translated script of Imam Ceesay’s full sermon.
Translation by Musa Saidykhan
I am your brother Imam Ceesay talking to you about what has become a very urgent issue. This address has come at a time when our motherland the Gambia is going through a very terrifying moment. The Gambia is at a difficult moment. I am speaking out because Allah says whoever believes in Him must tell the truth. Whatever is being we say must be based on truth. Truth is the ultimate winner which is why our Holy Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] emerged victorious over his enemies. Allah makes plain truth tellers victorious and forgive their sins. Whoever has his sins forgiven, obviously becomes a winner. This is why I come out today to give my own perspective of the Gambia’s crisis. Who am I to remain silent when I see our elders, women and youths are protesting against excessive force being used against innocent and defenceless citizens? I believe it is now incumbent on every concerned Gambian to speak out their mind on what is happening in the country. Our country is going through hell because we have a leader who does not care about human respect and human dignity. He is a very smart and petty leader who masters the art of setting people up, spin doctoring, distracting and leading people astray. He does all these to keep the crown and spread his leadership tentacles.
How Yahya Jammeh fooled Gambians
When Yahya Jammeh first came to power in 1994, people laughed at him thinking he is a fool. We all thought the same person who coup d’etat Jawara was still the one leading us. While we were laughing and underestimating his capabilities, Yahya Jammeh was busy retooling his treacherous craft. Before we know he had changed it was too late. It was then we knew he was not the man who promised heaven and earth. We wonder whether he was the same Yahya Jammeh who sat on TV describing former PPP officials as “cruel people who do not throw even their bones to dogs.”
It was too late for us to know this leader is more treacherous, cunning and cruel than any of us. He is not a typical Gambian. A typical Gambian is not known for being hard-hearted. An ordinary Gambian is full of patience, compassion, sympathy and kindness. That is the kind of attitude our parents inculcate in us. And instead of being appreciative of the people who allowed him to rule them, this cruel leader started defining Gambians. He described us as “weak and lazy people” who do not want to work or strive hard. His first preoccupation was to divide Gambians into groups. That is the true character of any bad leaders. That was what Fir’awn [Pharaoh], one of the most tyrannical rules in human history, did to his subjects. Yahya Jammeh divided and split us into tribes. Like Fir’awn, President Jammeh’s goal is to stay in power forever. He became close to prominent people from different tribes. These unsuspecting people have been used and abused to do his bidding before he destroyed them when he had accomplished his mission. In the end, the only person who remains triumphant is Yahya Jammeh. He did the same to Baba Jobe [former APRC Majority Leader of Parliament who died mysteriously in state custody], Sheriff Dibba [former Speaker of Parliament who died after security officers tortured him] and others who helped him. Yahya Jammeh is doing the same tricks to even members of his own tribe. Every Gambian has tasted his cruelty, bitterness and arrogance. He hasn’t spared anyone – not even the people who are close to him in the name of loyalty. They too have had their share of the ruthlessness. Yahya Jammeh has an obsession to control everything, including our lives and narratives.
Jammeh’s killing without boundary
President Jammeh has killed all types of Gambians: our fathers, husbands, youths and children. And of late, he started killing even our wives, sisters and daughters. That means he is worse than Fir’awn who with all his wickedness, had never done that. God told Muhammad in the Qur’an thus “you know Pharaoh was a cruel leader who killed sons of Israel but he did well to protect girls.” It is a big loss and sympathy for parents who had their children killed by a person who swore to protect them. A good Muslim should honour and fulfill his promise but Yahya Jammeh doesn’t.
In fact, Prophet Muhammad preached against the killing of women and children during jihad war. He even advised jihadists to spare vulnerable members of the society for killing. Women, children and old people fall in this category. But this Yahya Jammeh does not spare these people either. This is simply too disturbing.
Gambia’s Sacrificial Lambs
Some people have sacrificed their lives to put a stop to Yahya Jammeh’s madness. This is what Solo Sandeng, Fatoumata Jawara and co did. This is what Ousainou Darboe and others die. All these people put their lives on the firing line for the liberation of Gambians. We have heard Ousainou Darboe when he expressed readiness to die for Gambians. He has spreaded his chest for bullets to enter—bullets Jammeh is running away from. This is so stressful and disturbing. But this manifestation is an important milestone in the history of the Gambia under Yahya Jammeh and his team of crook enablers; crooks like Ousman Sonko, who behaves like Pharoah’s right hand master chief security Hamana, Saul Badjie and their helpers will reap what the sow. These are the killers who shamed and degraded human beings, Allah’s most precious commodity. When you touch human being, you must be ready for war with Allah and His Angels.
These peaceful protesters had no weapon with them; all we saw in their hands were the Gambian flag and banners. Other than that they expressed their anger in words. What is wrong with that?
But we have seen Jammeh’s worthless security officer threw these peaceful elderly protesters inside cars like cola nut baskets; we have seen it on the media how they were mistreated. Most people were scared these arrested people would be made to disappear on the pretext they were not arrested. But thank God cameras beamed on them.
Killers are our own people
Ironically, these heartless security officers carrying out Jammeh’s acts of treachery come from our homes. They are our own brothers, sons and sisters. They kill and torture us just to satisfy one person’s soul desire; the one who decides to keep his wife and kids to escape from the Gambia’s hardship. If he thinks the country is heaven, why would his family stay at home?
Yahya Jammeh the ignorant preacher
We have seen the same president preach people on television to fear Allah and worship Him. Does this president forget he has tortured and killed so many innocent people? Jammeh has committed and continues to commit sinful acts. He angers Allah by destroying innocent lives, worshiping idols and disobeying his parents. This president verily knows what he is doing is not right, but he does not fear Allah. This is why I had earlier warned Gambians to be careful of this master trickster; it has taken us so many years before we discover his plots and tricks.
President Jammeh is a leader who wants to control religious narrative, scholars and imams. When he wanted to achieve his goals he started speaking for Islam. He is doing this because he is positioning himself to be an Amir [Spiritual leader of an Islamic State]. He locked up Imams to scare them from quoting the Qur’an and Sunnah truthfully. Then he can control pulpits just like how he controls all arms of the government. In that case Yahya Jammeh will decide what Imams and religious scholars will preach in pulpits and conference. An extension of his dictatorship. We will not sit idle and allow an ignorant person to interpret the Qur’an for us. By Allah’s wishes that will never happen in the Gambia.
Come out of your closets
It is time for Gambians to come out of their closet and throw fear away. Stop hiding because it will not solve your problems. Stand firm against tyranny. This is true for every Gambian, especially those people working at the United Nations, NGOs and businesspeople who are busy amassing wealth. Your country needs your help. You must not leave your country to disintegrate. If you do history will not be kind to you. This is a shame on you. Do not hide; go and bail out your country you will not have it back if it eludes from your hands.
Of Janmeh’s killer machines
Let Jammeh’s killer machines know that they should be loyal to their country more than a selfish individual leader. He is not an Amir or a Muslim leader. He occupied that office through constitution that has been agreed by Gambians. It is the same constitution that guarantees his removal from office when he violates it. Yes, he is a leader but like any other Gambian, he is not above the constitution. It is your own sin if you kill for him. He will lead you to hell fire. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Don’t they know they will wake up on a day of fear, a day when a human being can’t do anything.” You must not therefore do anything other than what the constitution says. Whatever you do will be prosecuted by Allah. That is the truth. And remember that whatever you do will be waiting for you in the next world. Whatever you do will earn you sin even if you are following somebody’s orders.
Gambia belongs to all
I want our security officers to understand that they too have a stake in the Gambia. The country belongs to all of us, which why they should remain careful in whatever they do. All Gambians, including the ones you are killing for Yahya Jammeh, are your everything. They are your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles. These are the people you attend the same religious institutions, ceremonies, or shop with. These Gambians are your neighbours. Your kids attend the same schools with their kids. So you cannot escape from them in a new Gambia. You should think of the future.
Jammeh’s chief crook
The likes of Ousman Sonko [minister of interior] is an engine of Yahya Janmeh’s killing spree. Here is an evil man who does not wish anything good for Gambians, the man who is always raising his threatening fingers. In fact, before this crisis erupted, Ousman Sonko said on national television that they have orders to kill any suspect. The likes of Ousman Sonko keep feeding on instilling fear in Gambians. He is like Fir’awn’s Hamana. He is among those who kill for Jammeh. This Ousman Sonko never says anything good. Sonko and his group arrested our people only to fulfill their planned intention. arrest our people and kill three of them. They were arrested to be killed because that is what they intended. These innocent peaceful protesters were not arrested; they were killed as if they are non-humans.
Innocent blood is not spilt in vain
Clearly, innocent blood is never spilt in vain. Something has to be done. It has always been like that. The fight to liberate motherland has began. I want all of you to stand firm and maintain perseverance. You have to be patient and strong, even though there will be bumps along the way. Avoid fitna among yourselves. No win comes without a price but Allah is always with the oppressed people. There will be light at the end of tunnel.
Be wary of spies
My message to Gambians, particularly diaspora those in the diaspora is to be mindful of people whose goal is cause split within your ranks. Some of them are Jammeh’s spies who want to create bad blood and confusion among you.
Cues from Prophet Muhammad
We should learn from Prophet Muhammad who was told by Allah to advise his followers to stand firm and avoid quarrel during trying times otherwise their power will diminish. You should be careful of fitna. All of you here and home should be united until normalcy returns home. Always maintain truth and avoid luring people into fitna and pull out. And these soldiers you called on everyday, expecting them to take over from Jammeh, are not worth anything. Please stop trumpeting such calls because these soldiers will not give back the country; they are a bunch of cruel people who are not trained to help human beings; they were trained to hate and kill people without guns. Everyone of them is scared of President Jammeh that is why they run away when they see him. They are killers who must not be counted on. Are they not the ones who lured people to Banjul only to kill them? The military is full of lazy and foolish people; people who toil hard at Janmeh’s farms, herd his cattle and sell his produce. How can those who cannot fight their fight bail you out?
It is time for all Gambians to unite in their determination to get rid of their cancer. They should stop calling military to bail them out. You are better than them because you work hard to earn money for yourselves and your families. Unlike these military officers, you toil for your parent and not for Yahya Jammeh. You are helping your parents and the country; you don’t steal either; it is the president who steals, spreads lies and kills humans. He even sits on television and brag about it.
Why I can’t remain silent
One of my friends advised me to be careful of these people [referring to those in the struggle against Jammeh dictatorship] because they talk a lot but they always hide. But I have come out to speak about Ousainou Darboe and others who stake their lives for the cause of Allah. If those people can do it no one should be left behind. Vomit out your fears; stop hiding. Go and bail out your country. Those who can go home should while those who cannot should contribute their resources to the noble cause. You have to do something to get your country from the killers and selfish hypocrites. Allah tells Muhammad and Muslims to bail out their country with their lives and resources.
Caution for online media
This message is for those in the media radios: our Kairo, Kibaaro, Freedom, Fatu Radio, Jonlof, Hello Gambia and others. You have all been doing great job. And I pray for your success. But I want you to be very careful while executing your noble job. Open your eyes and watch out messengers of hate, distraction and division. Their only mission is to join your radio program to derail any progress being made or about to be made. Many people are also in the habit of splitting people with their tongue, washing away all the good deeds of the diaspora. Most of these radio speakers have a mission to split and derail noble efforts. We have seen how noble associations have be n shattered on the media. Distinguished people have had their reputation soiled. Some of these people want to mix people together. If you do the right thing we will become upper hand. Freedom of expression comes with responsibility. You must not allow anyone to tear us down in the name of freedom of expression.
Days of hiding are over
Anyone who hides, never wants to come forward to be part of this important national discourse will not have a place in a New Gambia.
Fight must continue; we should not reach to a point in which people start blaming the oppressed people. Every fight has ups and downs. Ousainou and co are better than Yahya because he will never change. He is like a serpent who injects venom in people, hide and plan to prey on the next victim.
All politicians in the country should strive to unite today. During tough times people should come together. What we used to hear from Omar Jallow was that no one would divide the opposition but it looks like that is happening. We have not heard anyone coming out to talk to youths. Come out and talk to them. They need you today more than any other day. Helping President Jammeh will not aid you anything; tell youths what is happening otherwise they will not listen to you any more. Yahya Jammeh is not trustworthy and sincere. If he has been, he will not have any problem with his friends: Baba Jobe, Sheriff Dibba, Waa Juwara and many others. He will never change because everything has to be in his terms; he does not honour any paper he has signed. Even those who sign the papers for him are not guaranteed security. No one has the powers; even those who sign don’t know what will happen to them. My brothers and sisters, I have come to spread my thoughts and tell you what I have about our Gambia. History is in the making, no one will be counted if you don’t speak out now.
Clerics get into the ring
I also have special message to my brother scholars. You have to learn from Prophet Muhammad that it is incumbent on us to fight evil with our hands, then our mouths and hate it with our hearts. The last option portrays our weakness. The one who is killing you, imprisoning and tormenting you is calling on you to attend national prayers sessions. He is asking you to go to mosque and pray for his individual benefit. The president who imprisons and threatens you on national television saying he was going to kill and that whoever pleaded with him would face severe consequences. How many imams did he imprison, beat or exile? Yahya Jammeh is a hypocrite who mixes people. If you hand over yourselves to the cruel leader, you will bear the brunt. No one will sympathise with you.
Let’s defeat disunity
As Gambians, we belong to one family, which is why I appeal to all of you to defeat anything that divides us. Let us break tribalism which only shatters us. Thank God people have united in action and words. Even if it takes us 20 years to bring down a brutal tyrant, which I believe will not happen, we will surely liberate our country. The liberation process can only be derailed when you betray Allah’s promise.
I want to close the sermon with the prayers Prophet Musa invoked against Pharaoh. I will pray that Allah end this ruthlessness, wickedness and arrogance soon.
Our Lord! You have bestowed on Yahya Jammeh extra-ordinary powers
The powers he uses to degrade and destroy innocent Gambians at will
He imprisons, banishes and kills Gambians to satisfy his heart desire
Our Lord! Yahya Jammeh makes every Gambian powerless
He controls the country and its resources to his advantage
Our Lord! Destroy Yahya Jammeh’s powers and his crown
Make the brutal tyrant powerless and shameful
Instill fear in his heart so he could not sleep
Create bad blood between him and his soldiers
So Gambian people can get back their freedom
So that Gambians return to their home without fear
So that our young men can return and marry our girls
Who will then give birth to good sons and daughters
Oh Lord, you have the power to make anyone the leader
You also have the power to destroy any leader
Destroy Yahya Jammeh and his killing machine
Give back power to Gambians