Kanilai is a village in southern Gambia near the border with Senegal. The country’s former President Yahya Jammeh was born in this village which is mostly inhabited by small holder farmers.
The village became popular after the 1994 coup that brought Jammeh into power.
During the Jammeh regime Kanilai was home to the presidential palace, a wrestling arena, a luxury hotel and a game park and zoo.
But life in the village has not been the same since Jammeh lost the December 2016 elections after being in power for 22 years.
It’s been 2 years 5 months since Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea and his kinsmen are already feeling the pinch of his exit.
Ebow Jammeh who is the Alkalo or Chief of Kanilai is accusing the Adama Barrow government of neglect.
“Since Jammeh left we have are neglected, the government has ignored but we are also part of the Gambia’’ the Alkalo told Africa Feeds.
During the early days of Barrow’s administration the presence of the soldiers, especially Senegalese troops in Kanilai was troubling for the Alkalo and his people.
Ebou Jammeh told Africa Feeds that they feel insecure because of the relationship between the Movement of Democratic Forces rebels of Casamance and the Senegalese.
“We don’t want the Senegalese soldiers here and we told them about our dissatisfaction but they won’t listen, there was a day we staged e a protest and one of us was shot and killed.
We still don’t have answers from the government of the Gambia since Haruna Jatta was killed by the ECOMOC forces.”
Supply of utilities
Ebou Jammeh told Africa Feeds that residents in the Kanilai village experience disruptions in the supply of basic utilities including water and electricity.
This was not the case during the Jammeh era. Residents who do not have money to pay for electricity sleep in darkness.
Musa Bala Bojang who is the Secretary General of the Kanilai Youth Development Association narrated how life has been challenging after the exit of Yahya Jammeh.
“In 2017 after the political crisis, it was very difficult to have teachers to teach in Kanilai.
I completed my Higher Teacher Certificate (HTC) and I was posted somewhere else but the teachers posted here refused to come and teach in our village.
We now have only 4 teachers handling grades 7, 8 and 9.”
Corrugated iron fence used as mosque
The residents of Kanilai have resorted to the use corrugated iron fence as a mosque.
The construction of a new mosque which started during the Jammeh reign has been halted.
The Imam of Kanilai Allasan Jallow is asking the government of the Gambia to complete the unfinished mosque since the use of the current facility endangers their lives particularly during the rainy season.
“We encounter a lot of problems during the rainy season especially during the months of August.
I hope the government, the private sector and even philanthropists can give us support. This is not about politics,” Jallow told Africa Feeds.
Seizure of Jammeh’s assets and reconciliation
On the seizure of Jammeh’s assets the Alkalo of Kanilai Ebou Jammeh believed it is a wrong move from the government.
“They seized his assets, his cattle were also taken, even the containers which are in his compound having important materials were all taken and that is why it’s been difficult to complete even our mosque.”
He also believed that the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) is a witch hunt of Jammeh and his appointees.