Below is the email I received from MichiGambia president informing me and the rest of the community that I have been deleted from the community mailing list. The bold letterings are my response to specific points he made in the email:
There was an article recently distributed to our community mailing list that doesn't help our cause or represent the image of the executive well. Several members in the community have contacted me concerning these articles and expressing disappointment about their misleading and negative implications. The article in question was written by Ousman Ceesay and was very unnecessary and not in line with the humble job the executive and our community as a whole are doing to help make a difference back home.
I will like to think that the people contacting you will have the cojones to speak their mind when they read what I wrote. But again this is more about the executive than anyone else. What is misleading about what I wrote? Please indulge me.
After reading the article which stated the following:
"The Michigan Gambian association has been conned by the embassy who is taking credit of the Medical supplies instead of the Gambian Community and he went on to say that Tijan Ceesay is currently in the Gambian waiting for the container topresent it to the President." This is the most inaccurate statement at any level. Tijan Ceesay did not go anywhere. It is totally unnecessary for someone to fabricate such false statement.
I am flabbergasted at the dastardly way the executive decides to quote me. Nowhere in the said article did I say what they quoted me as saying. But like everything else they do incompetence is the norm. I was narrating the talk making the rounds in the Gambian community.
These allegations are not only uncalled for but not healthy for our community who is just doing with the little we have to send help back home.
What allegations Monsieur de la Presidente? That Tijan tried to outsmart your leadership and nearly succeeded. You can’t be serious. Everybody and their mama know that is a fact. Don’t tell me what is healthy for the community. Free follow of information I imagine is healthy for any community. No?
Lawdy Lawdy…forced to do what? You guys are comical. I did that out of a sense of fair play. Something you guys obviously have no clue about. You confused criticism of your ineptitude to that of the community. When did critiquing the executive become synonymous with attacking the community? Get real. I am part of the Gambian community in Michigan. My best friends are part of that same community that you claimed I attacked but can’t bring forth any evidence to prove your point. What a joke.
When we received the acknowledgement from the President's office thanking the
community for a generous donation, he was proved wrong and forced to write the
Ousman ceesay wrote, "Michigambia finally get an acknowledgement of their efforts and the allegations that I made that they may have been conned by the embassy proved false." For Ousman to enlighten his readership about the mistakes he made on his blog and never attempt to correct the misinformation he has been cascading to our community shows how passionate he is about attacking the executive of this association and the community in general.
This unsubstantiated allegations and unnecessary attacks to the executive have to stop. We are not being paid for doing the job we are doing but strictly volunteering our time and resources.
Therefore we don't deserve to be treated as such. When he is not only criticizing us but went to the extend of pointing out individuals of the executive and calling them names we have to do something. Because if we let people engage in name calling and sending it to the community mailing list, then that will defeat the purpose of this email list. For that being the case Ousman is being deleted from the email list effective immediately.
Now that is what this is all about. Your mighty executive should never be criticized. Like the fictional Napoleon in George Orwell’s Animal farm, you are always right. Your little princesses shouldn’t be called out for their prank. Well you are wrong and you are barking up the wrong tree. If you guys think you can silence me by deleting me from the email list, then you got one coming. If I have to do anything all over again, I will do the same thing. No regrets.
We will not engage in a war of words with anybody for any reason. If anybody thinks he or she is able to help this association in anyway, shape or form, you are more than welcome to come forward and help for the good of our community.
I am willing to accommodate anyone at any time if he or she believes they can make a positive contribution. Remember that our monthly meetings are on the second Sunday of every month (or every three months). Bring any ideas or discussion that you want to have with the executive and we will be glad to listen to you!
Oh please save me the patronizing. You guys deleted someone for criticizing your work and in the next breath solicit input. If that is not hypocrisy at it’s height, I don’t know what it is.
Thank you very much and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
President of the Gambian Association of Michigan
But don’t take my word for it. Here is what Cherno Baba Jallow (a member of the community) has to say about this saga:
It is beneath my comprehension that the executive commitee of the Gambian Association of Michigan can stoop so low as to "silence" its critics. Why expel Ousman Ceesay from the mailing list? Because he has written an "inaccurate" article? He attacks the executive? Does not support
the cause of the Association? Are these justifiable reasons to expel somebody from a forum?
The executive had the chance to respond to Ousman's write-ups when he posted them on this mailing list, but it chose not to. If Ousman had written a misleading article, it is important --- isn't it? --- for the executive to respond to the charges, rebut and clarify where necessary. That will have done two things: Set the record straight, a net benefit for the Association; and help
us all being roundly informed about the issues pursuant to Ousman's revelations.
The reality is this and I hereby allege: the president and the executive of the Gambian Association of Michigan decided to expel Ousman because they did not like his criticisms. Ousman was once arbitrarily removed by Modou Jah from the mailing list. It was only after complaints were lodged that he was re-instated. So Ousman's removal was well thought-out; it was carried out with a whiff of vindictiveness and partiality. It is wrong.
Recently, the executive decided to kill my column on michigambia.com and never even bothered to inform me. I was never served a notice and nor was I extended an invitation to any meeting where I could have had the opportunity to address any concerns or issues pertaining to my writings on the website. The committee just decided to yank my column off, showing no recourse to professionalism and courtesy. At least, I ought to have been formally notified
given the fact that I contributed immensely to the development of the website, needless to say the time and energy expended on the information there-in.But one thing is clear.
This executive has competency issues to resolve. It also suffers from arrogance of power. It lacks the professional approach to handling issues and people. It is a microcosm of the leadership crisis we have back home, when a few people arrogate themseleves the power to censor and silence people. It is a disgrace, the way the executive of the Gambian Association of Michigan has willfully blinded itself to the fact that in the marketplace of ideas, the cure to free speech is more speech.
I am a strong supporter of free speech and I will donate my last pint of blood to the cause of freedom of _expression. That's why I take my removal from the website and even more painful, the arbitrary delisting of Ousman Ceesay, with umbrage. Therefore:
I will not be a party to a mailing list that censors and silences critics. My respect for the ideals of free speech is too unalloyed to permit my continued stay on the mailing list. I hereby ask to be removed from the list. And I also hereby request that the Association not send me solicitations for funds. I will not contribute to an Association whose executive has no or little regard for
freedom of expression. Paging President Modou Jatta.
They can try to frame the issue in whatever way they want, but the fact remains and I have said this before: that the executive of Michigambia take opinions critical of them personally and act accordingly irrespective of the consequence. They are not the most humble bunch and they tend to think they are not in need of much outside input or advice. That is the crux of this saga.