For over two decades, the people of Gambian had lived under the tyrannical hold of the ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, whose rule was marked by human rights mistreatment claims which include murders, witch hunts, and oppressed work. However, Mr. Jammeh had earlier on refused any wrongdoing. Since his surprise election trounce over five years ago, the country has been coming to terms with its cruel history, including through the means of art.
Fatou Terema Jeng, one of the victims was overcome with feelings when she first saw her snapshots in a gallery ground called The Memory House. But it was not the usual hopelessness and grief she feels when she thinks about what she said was done to her family by the Yahya Jammeh government in The Gambia. She confessed to being incredibly delighted when she saw her portraits. “They were so beautiful; I couldn’t stop smiling that day” she declared.
Her radio engineer hubby, Sankung Balajo, died on account of the witch hunts allegedly carried out under the commands of Mr. Jammeh. The witch hunts began in 2009 after he faulted an aunt’s death on witchcraft and the hunts are thought to have occurred occasionally over seven years. They struck deep fear and discord in a lot of communities in The Gambia.
Ms. Jeng’s pictures are part of a compelling series of portraits of 11 individuals who are sharing their tales about the terrible maltreatment they say they and their loved ones tolerated under Mr. Jammeh’s rule between 1994 and 2016. In 2013, Ms. Jeng’s father Saul Ndow, an eminent entrepreneur who often spoke publicly against Mr. Jammeh, disappeared while on a voyage to Senegal, together with Mahawa Cham, an ex-politician he was journeying with.