Since news story of Fatou Toufah Jallow’s rape allegation against the former President Jammeh was published by New York Times and the BBC last week, public opinion in The Gambia seems divided on the veracity of the allegation.
One would think that girls she was being ferried around with would be her alibi, evidently not. In fact, they gave contrasting views which could dent Toufah's credibility.
Ramatoulie Mboob, a former contestant wrote on Facebook: "My experience with ex-president Jammeh was positive and honestly I didn’t witness or experience no bad abuse from him so there’s nothing much I can say. So please don’t waste your time calling and asking me if the rape case is true or not. I don’t know anything about it and I can’t testify to something I’ve no idea about. Allah is my Witness."
Safiatou Baldeh, another contestant in 2014, wrote on Facebook: “I saffiatou Baldeh was never abused neither have I seen or heard any of the contestants being abuse by HE. This man changed our lives and made us queens. All the nine contestants were going to State House freely and nothing has ever gone wrong. We were later made presidential ushers, ushering almost every state gathering.I must confess this platform made us more confident in our various ways, alhamdulillah. Most of the tertiary representatives have completed their course from University, College, MDI,GTTI."
Fana Mbowe-Khan, runner up to Toufah, also wrote on Facebook: “All I have to say is I went through the pageant and I was the first runner up in December 2014. Never have I seen or witnessed any sexual abuse of any of my friends or any pointers which made me think that’s what’s going on. So to everyone asking me whether the rape case is true or not, I cannot testify to something I have not witnessed. My experience with him was positive and somebody else’s claims cannot cloud my judgment. All we received from Jammeh was pure kindness and support and that’s what pushed us to where we are now. I have successfully completed my BSc, now pursuing my Masters in the UK and happily married. All the beauty queens who had pure intentions with the pageant have made it in life because they didn’t let their beauty and fame get the best of them and were not sneaky in their affairs.”
When people say stuff, what they didn’t say is equally if not more important. What these girls and Toufah didn’t say is what I am more interested in. Mrs Mbowe-Khan gave us a clue when she said ‘sneaky in their affairs’, referring to the likes of Toufa.
Personally, I don't believe Toufah’s rape claim until proved otherwise. Where I differ is her account of events leading to her being allegedly violated. Her story has more holes than Swiss cheese.
- She told NY Times that she left The Gambia five days after being raped, but told the BBC that she left The Gambia three days later.
- She told Gambian journalists at a presser on Friday that when she woke up after being raped “I haven't found or seen my leggings or underwear up to this date. I don’t know where it is.” She told NY Times that when she woke up, she found her leggings on the floor and Jammeh sitting in a chair in the corner.
- She said as she approached the State House that fateful night, she heard a ‘Jola Sukuwo’ that she and the other girls liked so much. This tells me that this is not the first Gamo she attended at the State House together with the other girls, however, she hasn’t mentioned any other.
- She claimed to spurn Jammeh’s advances and was ignoring/avoiding calls from Jammeh’s aides. She doesn’t want to disclose that she had willingly communicated with Jammeh’s aides and was happy receiving largesse as this will shift the blame to her for inviting trouble to herself.
- Some people said that what she told Fatou Camara in an interview back in 2015 is not consistent with what she is saying now.
Gambian Journalists dropped the ball on Friday. Two questions they should have asked:
1. By her own admission, she was obsessed with celebrities and all her phone credit was spent on surfing the net checking what Beyonce, Rihanna were up to. She has been longing to be a Nollywood or Hollywood star. The question is; Is this whole thing a staged shortcut to international stardom?
2. While all this was going on, what was the family’s position on their daughter being courted by the President?