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Musicians Aim Fighting Words at the Gambia's Hardliner President

A popular music video featuring a group of artists taking aim at the president of the Gambia's tightening grip on the West African country is making the rounds among Gambians home and abroad.

Musicians Xuman, Djily Bagdad, Tiat, and Ombre Zion accuse Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of despotism in the song titled “Against Impunity” published on YouTube, rapping in English and Wolof about the oppressive state of Gambian society under the hardliner's thumb and encouraging Gambians to rise up. The video, which was released in December, has more than 26,000 views.

Since coming to power in 1996, President Jammeh's poor human rights record has drawn steady criticism. Last year, he oversaw the execution of a number of prisoners in a short period of time, earning condemnation from the international community and human rights groups. He has also been accused of restricting political expression and press freedom, as well as persecuting homosexuals.

The video opens with one of the musicians, who wears a blue t-shirt that reads “No to violence against journalist”, singing the song's chorus: “We have to handle our own destiny / So it’s the right time to fight against impunity”.

Later on in the video, one of the other artists raps:

Why leave our future in one man's hands?
No rules at all, it's like a no man's land
Many been declared missing
Unsolved mysteries
The population running scared
Living in misery
Stand up for our rights
And let freedom ring
Let's knock this dictator out of the ring

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Photo released under the GNU Free Documentation License by Wikipedia user JohnArmagh.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Photo released under the GNU Free Documentation License by Wikipedia user JohnArmagh.


JollofNews reported
 that after its release, the video went viral among Gambians sharing it on social media websites such as Facebook.

Praise was high for the video among viewers who commented about it on YouTube, and some even went as far as to accuse local Gambian musicians of cowardice for not writing similar songs to condemn President Jammeh's documented human rights abuses. The artists in the “Against Impunity” video appear to be from the neighboring country of Senegal, not from the Gambia.

ismeala bakhoum wrote on YouTube:

Nice song and if the gambian can't fight for himself he can have the senegalese help not the senegalese goverment [sic] but the senegalese people, human right and even the artist.
This video should be a shame for the gambian artist,u calling yourself patriot but you can't fight for your country.
At least if you do not fight, do not go about making songs to promote, and that is what Gambian artists do.

Mahammadou Bah also pointed a finger at Gambian musicians:

true song i love.Gambians artist are sell outs

fanbondiK encouraged people to take action:

I got goose bumps all over my body.. Gambians lets stop slumbering and confront this dictator. We want to be FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!! How can we be enslaved by our own country man?

Pressfreedom1 criticized people who disliked the video:

Shame on people who dislike this video. Just keep on supporting this tyrant. He will one day come for your mum and dad. Idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One JollofNews reader raved about the song:

Super lyrics!! Awesome video!!! And a very beautiful tune!!!

I have always loved Gambian music from santay alla, da fugitive, black nature, aada gee posse', born africa, panachi chaw, flying lion n crew, Dj cora, Chambion DJ, u name them

This group's tune is beautiful. Some of their wollof lyrics sound to me like senegalese wollof accent.. am not really sure. need to listen to it one more time

I do know that Jammeh was not rattled by nov 11th events [Editor's note: Gambian members of the Armed Forces Patriotic Revolutionary Council ordered the summary executions of the officers and men of the Gambian armed forces on November 11th, 1994 following an abortive coup] . Am not sure if music can ever rattle him.

But one thing I do know is; this thing rocks my bones

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