Sitting at home in Burton on Trent in the United Kingdom on Friday night, 22 December 2017 listening to my favourite Freedom Radio news analysis, the program host Pa Ndery mentioned the incident of former educationist, now Gambia government Public Service Commission official Mr Alkali Conteh’s the alleged murder of my cousin Sheikh Tijan Joof of Munyagen Village, in the Jokadou District, North Bank Region in the mid-1980s when he, Alkali Conteh headed the Kerewan Secondary Technical School which my cousin then attended.
Tijan as he was called was in his first year at the School and in the first-year class, form one. The boy was thin a thin and frail young person.
Out of a trivial issue of a school fight with another young person of the School at the time as we the family were made to understand, Conteh is known to have allegedly punished him by beating him to death.
Reliable sources at the School at the time among the students as well as teachers who witnessed the incident informed us that Alkali allegedly tortured the boy by a form of a cruel, inhuman and degrading corporal punishment then referred to as ‘lay’, a cruel form of punishment of having a victim of punishment laid on a flat surface usually a table or having him or her mounted on the back of a stronger person who will hold the punished person’s hands with two other strong persons holding each of his or her legs and stretched to allow the person administering the punishment carry on whipping like a slave master in the days of slavery on the sugar plantations in the Southern part of America with a stick or a pipe on the buttocks of the person being punished or the victim of punishment.
This was the punishment Gambia Public Service Commissioner Conteh allegedly subjected my cousin to on a Friday morning at the School assembly humiliatingly before the whole student and staff body of the Kerewan Secondary Technical School in Lower Badibou, North Bank Region.
Conteh is said to have allegedly used a big cane thrashing with brutal full force by both hands the young thin and frail boy.
As he allegedly beat the boy, is said to have been heard crying and appealing to him in his Wollof dialect as; ‘wooy, wooy, wooy master balalma, wooy master balalma, denadaea, wooy master balalma denadaea’ meaning please Master pardon me, please master pardon me I will die, please Master pardon me, I will die.
Reacting from the undoubtedly unbearable pain, the boy was said to have been unsteady in the hands of the stronger hands that held him up on a table or someone on else’s back and it is believed that in the event of being unsteady and turning which was simply beyond his control because of the resulting pain of the cruel beatings, that he may have been allegedly thrashed on the ribs on the sides of lower part of his chest or the lower sides of the belly a number of times.
As we were informed, Conteh allegedly acted as he was hitting an inanimate, lifeless object and as he allegedly indiscriminately thrashing any part of boy’s lower body accessible to him without care. The boy complained of pain in the lower part of his tommy immediately upon coming down from where he was mounted when thrashed on the fateful Friday until his demise the next day, Saturday night on his father’s bed where he was nursed and cared for pain management.
There was no post mortem examination of the body, but it’s obvious that the untimely death was allegedly as a result of the beating.
Neither Conteh, nor a member of staff of the School attended the funeral nor did he or a member of the staff as further set foot at Munyagen Village to pay a visit to the bereaved family and/ or pay a last respect to the death or sent a condolence letter or word.
Sheikh Joof, Shiekh Tijan’s father, a younger brother of my mother to whom the boy was emotionally attached to died soon after and the mother Awa Joof about a year or a little over a year suffered a stroke and had one side of her body paralysed and now sitting in a wheelchair. The death of the father a short while following the son’s untimely death and the mother’s stroke could possibly have been the result of a psychological shock of grief they have suffered from the young boy’s untimely and painful death.
The Ministry of Education at the time was aware of the incident but Conteh survived it with impunity. It came to my knowledge later that instead as he, Alkali was at the time in the good books of one Ebou Janha, then a senior education officer at Bedford Place, Conteh benefited from a transfer to a higher-class school, Banjul Seconday Techincal School (BS) in Kanifing South probably to allegedly save him from a possible future trouble with the students or a negative reaction by the community in case he continued the practice and use of corporal punishment to the students.
The evil that men do live after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. (William Shakespeare).
This murder incident will allegedly live after Alkali when if there are, his good deeds are interred with his beastly bones in his future grave.
By Ebou Sohna
Burton on Trent
East Midlands, United Kingdom.
Editors note: The views expressed by the author are sorely that of the author. We edited some part of the piece for editorial reason. Note: In any of the sentences, where ALLEGEDLY is used know that it is from the Editor and not the author. Mr. Alakli Conteh could not be reached for his own side of the story on the allegations contained in this opinion piece written by Ebou Sohna. Thanks for your attention.