Celebrating President Jammeh’s 47th birthday: Africa’s new type of man
Thursday, May 24, 2012
As we count down to the birthday anniversary of our party leader and President of The Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, let us reflect on the numerous achievements of one of Africa’s finest leaders.
contribution to world peace, African progress and his sterling leadership in
the West African sub-regional bloc, Ecowas, are the stuff of a legend. I was
challenged to do this write-up after my friend Sheriff Bojang asked me whether
I still regard Preisdent Jammeh as “Africa’s new type of man”.
I had famously
used that term to describe His Excellency the President during an interview
with Sheriff Bojang while he was the editor-in-chief of the Daily Observer and
I was the director of press and public relations at State House from 1997 to
I believe over the ensuing years, President Jammeh has grown in stature in all ways to deserve this title even more! He is the quintessential AFRICA’S NEW TYPE OF MAN and everyone except the blind knows that. They say some people are born great; some have greatness thrust upon them while others achieve greatness through the dint of hard work, determination and sheer courage. It is through the latter - more admirable and noble category – that President Yahya AJJ Jammeh achieved his greatness.
Yahya Abdul Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh was born in Kanilai village in the Foni Kansala District of the then Western Division on 25 May 1965, coincidentally the same year The Gambia severed the chains of colonialism. He hailed from a family of a famous traditional healer, the late Sulayman Junkung Jammeh and a humble woman farmer, Ajaratou Fatou Ashombi Bojang, who hailed from Bujinhna village also in the Foni Kansala District.
lore has it that even as a young boy, Yahya Jammeh stood out. In everything he
did, he excelled and had to win. He did his primary education in Kanilai and
Bwiam and passed his Common Entrance Examinations to secure a place at the
Gambia High School in the capital city of Banjul which at that time was
considered the premier secondary school in the country. He was placed under the
guardianship of the well-respected Catholic family of Mr Alfonse Tamba of
blessed memory in Leman Street, Banjul South, before moving to Tobacco Road in
Banjul North and later Latrikunda.
After graduating in 1986 from Gambia High
School with flying colours in the GCE ordinary level examination, Jammeh
enlisted in the then Gambia National Gendarmerie and upon its amalgamation with
the police, he transferred to the Gambia National Army. Due to his
professionalism and fortitude he rose through the ranks and had training
locally and internationally including at Fort Benning in Alabama, USA obtaining
a higher diploma in military training.
With the keen and ardent desire to transform The Gambia – a country he loves with every breathe in his body – he led a group of young lieutenants in a bloodless coup d’etat that toppled the thirty year government of Sir Dawda Jawara and the PPP.
Jammeh led the military transition which made record infrastructural
developments in The Gambia. In September 1996, he was promoted to the rank of
colonel and retired from the army. He brought about unprecedented developments
in the areas of education, health, agriculture, women and youth empowerment.
Due to these outstanding achievements the people of The Gambia, led by
influential opinion leaders from across the country impressed upon him the
imperative to contest the elections in the Second Republic to continue with his
development visions for lifting the country from the mire of poverty and
to the voices of the people, he duly formed the Alliance for Patriotic
Re-Orientation and Construction (APRC) in 1996 and stood as its presidential
candidate and has since then won elections with landslide majorities, the biggest
being recorded in last November’s elections.President
Yahya Jammeh has also promoted peace and reconciliation in The Gambia. His
granting of unconditional amnesty to the exiled former president, Sir Dawda
Jawara and his family was a case in point.
properties were returned to him; his Fajara residence was renovated to a deluxe
standard villa with an office, domestic staff, protocol personnel, vehicles
with chauffeur and 24 hour security details. A monthly salary, travel and
health allowance and all privileges befitting a former president were accorded
him. Sir Dawda
now resides in dignity as an elder statesman and freely travels in The Gambia
and abroad going for holidays and attending international conferences.
But President Yahya Jammeh’s vision for peace and progress has not only been limited to The Gambia.During the presidencies of three heads of state of Senegal; namely Abdou Diouf, Maitre Abdoulaye Wade and of recent Macky Sall, the Gambian president has played the role of facilitator for peace between the Senegalese government and the separatist MFDC fighters in the southern region of the Casamance.
the protracted conflict in Guinea Bissau, he had played the role of an honest
peace broker between the various feuding parties, negotiated settlements and
deployed contingents of Gambian soldiers on peacekeeping missions. He
spearheaded a support group called Friends of Guinea Bissau at the United
Nations to draw attention to the problems of that country and to marshal funds
to rebuild. President Jammeh and his government have engaged in similar
endeavours during the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars.
after the military coup in Mauritania, President Jammeh succeeded in securing
the release of its former leader, president, Maouyya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, after
he despatched a delegation led by the then Gambian Foreign Secretary, Dr Omar
Touray to Nouakchott. President Ould Taya and his family subsequently came to
The Gambia to thank the president en route to their new life in the United Arab
broke out in the Western Sudan region of Darfur, President Jammeh was among the
first African heads of state to accept the African Union’s decision to deploy
troops as peacekeepers and contributed 196 troops, 50 police officers and 20
military observers and The Gambia continues to control troops under the AU
Beyond the sub-region, President Jammeh continued his crusade for peace and known for his positive strides for peace, used his personal relations with the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea to broker and promote dialogue between the two governments, and in addition sent a Gambian contingent of soldiers as part of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
Over the past years President Jammeh gave his democratic views on many world issues; for example, the fight against terrorism, drugs and human trafficking. It was also under his leadership that The Gambia became a member of the United Nations Security Council from 1998 to 2000. President Jammeh also supported international intervention in Balkans and contributed troops to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission In Kosovo.
One of the
major diplomatic coups achieved by President Yahya Jammeh was to bring the
longstanding intractable matter of the Lockerbie bombing case involving Libya,
Scotland, some European countries and the United States. President Jammeh was
compelled by his love for humanity to advocate for a negotiated settlement and
spearheaded the efforts that led to Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, agreeing to
pay compensation to the families of the 203 people who died in the crash. This
eventually led to the lifting of sanctions on Libya and return of the North
African nation to the comity of nations.
In an interview when asked what is his greatest challenge, he answered: “Everyday is a challenge. When you see me smile it is an appreciation to Allah (SWT) for the opportunity to do some good for humanity and effect a positive change, and for the opportunity to make contribution to the progress of mankind.”
outgoing US ambassador to The Gambia, Pamela Ann White went to State House
recently to compliment President Jammeh on his efforts in finding an amicable
solution to the Guinea Bissau crisis, she told reporters: “We had a long
interesting conversation; the president is always very well informed about
international affairs…’ he has been a voice of reason at all meetings.
Gambian leader has been strong and played a critical role in moving forward
concretely what can be done in the Guinea Bissau and Mali crises, and the
United States of America does appreciate his wisdom and his own experience in
Also a few weeks ago, the Ecowas Commission chief, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, after the April 29 sub-regional bloc contact group negotiations in Banjul, led a group of some Ecowas Foreign Ministers to State House to express appreciation and satisfaction for President Jammeh’s stance.
conclusion, it is our sincere hope that as we gear up to festivities marking
his birthday, which coincides with African Liberation Day, we reflect on and
appreciate his strides and efforts in peacebuilding and development.
His Excellency the President is an honoured leader and an African role model, a pan-Africanist, a dutiful husband, caring and loving father. On behalf of all peace and progress loving Gambians, I say Jere Jeff Goori Zineb di bayi Mariam ak Muhammed Jammeh. Jilanka, the Prince of Peace.
Chi jaama. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!\
Author: Fatoumata Garba Jahumpa-Ceesay