New currency went into circulation on Tuesday in the West African nation of The Gambia, where life after former dictator Yahya Jammeh will now mean banknotes without his portrait on them.
President Adama Barrow showed off the new dalasi notes alongside the head of the Central Bank of The Gambia, who said the new bills – with pictures of birds on them – will enter the commercial flow alongside old ones that remain in circulation.
The move is the latest step forward for Gambians, who are rebuilding their nation after Jammeh’s 22 years of rule. He was forced into exile in January 2017 after weeks of refusing to honor Barrow’s electoral win and remains in Equatorial Guinea. He withdrew at least USD$50 million in state funds ahead of his departure, among other alleged crimes investigated in The Gambia.
The Jammeh legacy is rife with stories of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, rape and torture, some of them politically motivated, high-profile deaths that occurred in the runup to Jammeh’s loss, such as the killing of opposition politician Solo Sandeng.
Other stories have emerged during the nation’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) process, which began in January. Among them was the controversial admission of three of Jammeh’s former military officers to the TRRC in July that they participated in the death of journalist Deyda Hydara, who disappeared in Banjul in 2004.
The process is arduous and imperfect, but one that The Gambia hopes will facilitate a transition that, along with other changes like the bank notes, will move the nation toward closing the book on Jammeh’s history and writing a new future of its own.