(JollofNews) – The presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of the Gambia has used her meeting with President Yahya Jammeh to tell him the uncomfortable truth regarding the tense political climate in the country.
The Most Reverend Hannah Caroline Faal-Heim, said many people in the Gambia have been deeply hurt by President Jammeh and have singled him out for causing conflict among people and in the country.
“They say you are diving us. Please you know, I know this it is painful… but they say that you have the guns and you are determined to use it against your own people,” she told Mr Jammeh at the meeting held at State House on 19th December, which was attended by Muslim and Christian leaders following Mr Jammeh’s rejection of the election result.
According to an audio recording of the meeting leaked on Facebook, Reverend Faal-Heim, who is also the chairperson of the Gambia Christian Council said the Gambia is going through a very painful time and Gambians are very angry with Mr Jammeh:
“I want to ask your permission to speak truthfully and plainly to you because I see you as a brother because we are all Gambians. I have not come here as the chair of the Gambia Christian Council. In fact many people told me not to come here today, and all of us not to come because people are so angry with you,” she told Mr Jammeh.
“I seek your permission with deep respect [to speak] because the nation has been going through a very painful time. I don’t know whether many people tell you, but you know they tell me that I should not tell you because I will be in trouble. But I know that you prefer the truth. That you prefer people to pray for you and we both have been praying for you, even if we get in trouble is because we love you and the Christian truth that we stand for.
She added: “Love God first with all your heart, mind soul, strength, everything and love your neighbour like yourself. That is what has brought us here today. And I come not as a chair of the Gambia Christian Council but I have come because I am a member of the Gambia Christian Council and I come as a servant of the Living God whom I serve and whom whose heart I want to follow all my life.
“And that’s why I have come with the others. We have come because you are our president no matter what. And we feel that we have to come and hear you speak. And we thank you that you have done that. And we hear you and the reconciliation that you have talked about.
“Sir, there are people who are deeply hurt. They say that it is you who is causing the conflict among the people and in the country. They say you are diving us. Please you know, I know it is painful for me to sit here and tell you and that’s why I asked for your permission. But they say that you have the gun and you are determined whatever will come you will use it against your own people.”
Reverend Faal-Heim who is the first woman bishop in West Africa added: ” I am telling you Sir because they say you will lock me up if I speak the truth. I don’t believe that you would but as a servant of a Living God, I come here with the love of Christ in me to tell you that your people, the people – you are part of us because this is Gambia and Gambia must be one. We must be one. We must all work for Gambia.
“And they say that now the election took place, you never had any intention of stepping down. You have conceded but you will not accept the results, you will not help the nation to have a smooth transition and you will be prepared to even fight and put the guns on the street to stay in power in the Gambia.
“Sir this are painful things for all of us. Painful for me to sit here and tell you but the people must talk because they must believe and trust you again as they use to trust you. They don’t feel trust and they said the only place you can hear them is through the ballot box. Because they are afraid to tell you the pain that this nation feel. Everybody is feeling it and we don’t want outsiders from ECOWAS to come and tell us how we can be together as Gambians because every Gambian must be good for this nation.
“They are afraid. Some of the people said they loved you and you were their friend but you have been dividing the people and they no longer want to stand there because they don’t understand you. It’s a new you. Sir, these are painful words for me to sit here and tell you because I respect you deeply and no matter what anyone would say, I know today, they will even have names for me but I am a servant of the Living God before whom I stand, who called me to serve Him in this capacity as presiding Bishop of the Gambia.
“And I am presiding Bishop of every Gambian, no matter what you look like or who you are. My job is to pray for the nation and to pray for all people. That’s my work. It is not politics and to bring the love of God to everyone and every day we pray for you, the whole nation, every person, every farmer, every market woman, everybody including every soldier. But they pray that you will not raise your hand against the people you say you love and that we don’t need outsiders to come and give us a smooth transition after the election. Because you yourself said, I follow the will of Allah, I follow the will of the people.
“Sir, they want to honour you but I want to appreciate that I can come and dare to speak to you as a servant of the Living God and not fearing that you might be angry with me and even turn against me. I will rather that you get so crushed with me but I will bring it to you because the people love you and we love you. You are my brother in the Gambia. I mean that will never change.
“The Gambia belong to us. We were born here and every Gambian must feel that they must be part of the Gambia and work for the Gambia. We cannot be divided as a people and we cannot invite outsiders to divide us even further. What I am saying is, the people said that it is you who is going to make all the fighting because you don’t want to handover, smooth transition, and allow a democratic process and to stand again for an election and come back again.
“[Do] you know how many people are crying Sir because they are feeling this pain?. So yes, some people are rejoicing and they say rejoice with those who rejoice but mourn with those who mourn.
“Sir, I cannot tell you what to do but you have the fear of God in you because you always talk about Allah, your relationship with Allah and I know you say you don’t fear anyone and that’s is fair because what can mortals do for us? Our confidence must be in God.
“So sir, I am coming here today despite every odds or whatever and I don’t care what anyone is going to say. I am here and thank you for giving me the platform of speaking what you might never hear from anybody else – but that you need to hear and I realise that it is painful because you have loved this nation.
It is painful to hear but God is our healer. It is God who heals nations. We can go and talk to the people about forgiveness and peace. It is God who changes the hearts of man and women. It is God in His mercy who forgives us everyday that calls us to forgive one and another.
“Sir, I don’t have anything to give you. I only have God and a brotherly love that you are a Gambian like me. I have nothing to give you but the people, the people are there Sir. Even if they smiled to you, they will not show you their heart, but they are upset and angry and they say that its only you who can make the transition go smoothly. If you choose not to, you will bring in the guns on the streets of the Gambia but we pray to Almighty God that, that will not happen.”
Speaking earlier, Mr Jammeh told the religious leaders that Gambians have been enjoying uninterrupted peace and stability for the past 22 years of his leadership. He decried that some of his supporters have been insulted and harassed by opponents after the initial election results were announced.
He added that his initial acceptance of defeat demonstrated his unflinching loyalty and love for the country’s peace and stability. He said he would not allow anyone to plunge the country into civil war, thus enjoined all and sundry to refrain from acts that could threaten national peace and stability.