Dear President Jammeh.
I am writing on behalf of my friends Emmy, Amzy, Mama and everyone else residing in your small but beautiful West African country; The Gambia.
Friends that I made during my short work stay in your country, and as true Africans, we have remained real friends with a common bond of cherished memories.
I’m sincerely disturbed by the new developments in The Gambia and reports are that regional forces want to force you out of the office, since you have refused to respect the will of the people.
I almost decided to name my yet to be born son after you, the day you made that call and congratulated Adama Barrow, the Opposition leader for winning the elections.
“Congratulations. I’m the outgoing President; you’re the incoming President,” those were your words Mr President, musical to all victims of political violence in Africa and the world.
They were words of hope to other citizens in Africa and all those who have died while fighting for the Independence of our continent and a morale booster for those still doing so.
Barrow’s victory was outright – 45.5 percent of the total votes casted against yours at 36.7pc.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Adama for his victory. It’s a clear victory. I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best. As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided,” you went on to congratulate Barrow.
Do you know why The Gambia has a special place in my heart?
Upon arrival at Banjul International Airport on 3rd November 2015, I fell in love with your people.
They were willing to help me get the nearest and affordable cab, and I was even shown the best bureau exchange around the small airport.
Though it was late at night, my colleague Stella Cherono, a Kenyan journalists and myself were awed by the good roads with working street lights from the airport to Kairaba Beach hotel.
Not a single pot hole – it is all your amazing work.
I believe having been the President of The Gambia since 1994, you have done all you could – but the people now want President-elect Barrow to take them to the next level.
A fact that you agreed very well.
The country is wonderful but your people are fear stricken.
They fear you more than they adore you Mr President Jammeh, going by the warnings we received during our first day.
“So many journalists have been arrested in this country,” one of the locals cautioned us. “You must be careful on what you do and even say about the government. The voice of dissent is ruthlessly dealt with.”
This was during the 57th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Right.
I have heard of corruption allegations being levelled against your government.
But my encounter was not with government officials but with police during my first visit to the old Banjul city.
You see, just before you get to the magnificent Parliament buildings of your country, some officers had mounted a barrier on the road, which is good for the security of the city.
The problem is that they asked for a bribe from our cab driver – didn’t even care to check what we were carrying.
It was obvious they were in business.
“This is the norm here,” the cab driver said.
Which is widely spread across the continent anyway.
In Banjul, I saw many historical buildings.
Outside the State House gates, I saw women selling peanuts. My honest opinion – the country can do better.
A visit to Serekunda, which happens to be the largest modern urban city was good but I was not impressed with the infrastructure despite the great potential of your country.
That is why I say that you should respect the will of the people.
Violence will only destroy everything that you’ve built for decades while in power. There will be nothing left. Your legacy will be completely ruined.
On Wednesday night, I spoke to Emmy and her appeal was, “Please pray for The Gambia. We just want peace and stability.”
Your country is frequented by thousands of tourists, I remember telling my colleague Cherono just how many they were, which means business and revenue for your people.
Protect the image of our continent by peacefully handing over to the President elect.
(Muraya is Capital FM’s Security and Human Rights Reporter).