StoriesBehindDoors: The Gambia – In remembrance of the victims, and survivors of a massacre: 10 April 2000 – Modou Lamin Chune, 14 years old, was one of 16 young people shot dead by Gambian paramilitary forces (over two days, 10th and 11th April) when they opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by students. At first, rubber bullets and tear gas was used. When the students refused to disperse, these were replaced by live bullets
“My son was amongst the children massacred by Yahya Jammeh’s security forces… he was trying to escape, running with the other students to save their lives, and he was shot dead as he reached the school gates” Mbye Babou Chune
“Green Boys and magicians came around the village, singing, drumming, and dancing, and targeted NRP (UDP) opposition party members” Doudou Sanyang
The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. Dodou Sanyang, in the room of his recently deceased mother, Naa Joni Sonko. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys, and ‘magicians’ from Guinea, went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches.
The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten, and robbed by their captors. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold – Essau, Northbank Division, The Gambia.
“I was kept for five days. When they forced me to take the medicine (‘Kubehjaro’ a hallucinogenic substance), I could no longer stand up… I fell down on the ground… ” Sankung Balajo
New work from our long form multi-media project –‘The Gambia – Victims and Resisters’: The family of Lt Ebou Lowe. Ebou was disappeared and executed by members former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, the ‘Junglers’, after he was accused of being part of a coup attempt in 2006 to overthrow the dictatorial Jammeh regime.
Ebou Lowe’s daughter, Amie Lowe, photographed in her father’s room, left unchanged since he was disappeared in 2006 – “I grew up not knowing the love of a father. I was only three years old when he disappeared, so I don’t remember him. I only know him through what people have told me, that he was a good man, and some say he was a hero.”
Ebou Lowe’s sister, Zainab Lowe-Baldeh – “The road to justice is a long one for us but we hang tight. Ebou Lowe was a pillar to the family and a father of four, and was taken without a trace…knowing what has happened from the Truth Commission (TRRC) feels like a needle in a haystack.” Zainab is the co-founder of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human-Rights Violations – a victim support group, now with over one thousand registered members.
The exhibition runs through March 24th, 2020, at the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC museum gardens), Banjul. It is free and open to all. Please visit the museum website for opening hours. A selection of portraits, from the ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’series are being exhibited, in a collaboration with ANEKED (African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances) NGO.