US singer Erykah Badu has once again become the target of criticism over a planned performance for President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia shortly after she received flak for performing for King Mswati III of Swaziland at his 46th birthday celebration.
Activists accused Badu of “endorsing a brutal dictator” for that concert, but the singer has refused to apologise, arguing that she doesn't “keep up with current events” and her “harmless” visit did not help “further [Mswati's] political agenda”.
On Twitter, she was similarly defiant over the scheduled performance in The Gambia:
I'm not performing in Gambia?? Thats false advertisement ..BUT, if I were.. It would ALSO be for the PEOPLE. . MUSIC HEALS. I stand firm.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) Mayo 3, 2014
President Jammeh's regime routinely cracks down on the opposition and the media. In its submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Gambia, the human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said, “Since Gambia’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010, the human rights situation in the country has deteriorated. The government continues to stifle freedom of expression and commit other human rights violations with impunity.”
Web users have waged a campaign online to enlighten the singer about the Gambian dictator.
Dr Amadou Sacttred Janneh wrote on his Facebook page:
Join the campaign on Twitter. Send a message of disapproval to Eryka Badu @fatbellybella
Uproot Dictator Jammeh commented:
Please tell her that upon arrival she will be greeted by hungry uniform men with big guns!!!
Deborah Aparicio vowed to never buy her music:
It's incredible how ignorant and heartless she can be. I will never buy any of her music. She's an awful person.
In a column posted at Slate by Pedro Pizano and Jeffrey Smith, the authors argued Badu's “response to being called out for” performing for “Swaziland's brutal dictator” was “worse than the performance itself.”
On Twitter, Coalition for Change, an organization against the Gambia's dictatorship, responded to a tweet from Badu:
@fatbellybella Dr Dictator Jammeh, Gambia's chief physician will share healing techniques…but don't drink any concoction of his PLEASE.
— Coalition for Change (@ChangeGambia) May 3, 2014
President Jammeh claims that he has a miracle paste that cures HIV and AIDS.
Fatou Camara, a former Gambian television star and host of the country's most popular TV show “The Fatu Show”, tweeted about her suffering under President Jammeh's regime:
— Fatou Camara (@Fatushow) May 3, 2014
Jeffrey Smith shared this photo of Badu from the Gambia Roots Festival Facebook page showing her alongside other prominent artists scheduled to perform in Gambia:
— Jeffrey Smith (@Smith_RFKennedy) May 6, 2014
According to a blog post on Hans Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders, Badu is unapologetic about performing for dictators:
If Badu bristles under criticism for entertaining King Mswati, she'll really be frustrated by the world's reaction when she performs at a concert this May sponsored by the dictator of The Gambia. After seizing power in 1994 military coup, Yahya Jammeh is best known for spending millions of dollars on private parties, for promising to inflict “the ultimate penalty” on homosexuals, for warning the UN that gays are “a threat to human existence,” for claiming that he can cure AIDS in three days, and for executing and disappearing hundreds of his critics. After her Swazi quagmire, perhaps Badu will reconsider her scheduled performance in The Gambia, where she would provide cover for yet another despot, this one a lot more murderous than King Mswati.