Gambian-Americans Search for Answers, Reparations After Jammeh


The Gambia's Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission tours the U.S. to speak to the country's diaspora. The commission solicited questions, suggestions, and asked victims for testimonies. Using these kinds of testimonies, as well as under-oath statements from accused perpetrators — mostly security officials and mercenaries — the commission will recommend to the government what should be done in terms of justice, amnesty, and reparations.

It is not often that the word "reparations" is in the title of a truth commission and expectations are high as a result. Families lost breadwinners, kids could not afford school fees, people accumulated debt because of their detention, so monetary compensation would go a long way.

"It demands a lot of resources — which we don't have at the moment," said commissioner Anna N'gulu Jones, so one major objective of the global tour is to raise money. So far, it has raised about $5,000, according to Musu Bakoto, the deputy executive secretary of the commission.

Gambian-Americans have been intimately involved in the commission already, thanks to the fact that nearly all of its proceedings are streamed live. At the commission's Washington, DC-area tour stop, one woman said she secretly streamed proceedings during quiet moments in her government job; another found it harder to watch after seeing a childhood friend come forward as a perpetrator. In the commission's subsequent stop in Atlanta, Georgia, Gambian-American Ogis Gomez said, "I am not an avid watcher because some of the testimonies are very graphic. Every time I watch a couple of the episodes, I return — I have to cry."

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