The Gambia: Nuts About HIV

The Gambia: Nuts About HIV

March 2009


The Gambia, the smallest country in Africa, has a population of 1.5 million, of which 20,000 are HIV positive. This deadly virus that has infected 90 million people on the African continent continues to spread, but the Gambian President, His Excellency Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, assertively states he can cure it – with peanuts. Peanuts are The Gambia’s main export and one of the economy’s main driving forces, along with tourism.


President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh came into power in 1994 following a bloodless coup d’état and was subsequently elected as President in 1996. Jammeh is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Agriculture and Chief Custodian of the Sacred Constitution of The Gambia, thus effectively serving as the political, military and spiritual leader of The Gambia.


In 2007 Jammeh also became the medical leader of his country. He believes his healing powers were passed on by his father and claims he received a mandate to cure HIV, as long as it’s on a Thursday, and asthma, as long as it’s on a Saturday.

His treatment is constituted of secret herb ingredients, peanuts, bananas and, last but not least, a lot of prayer. The almighty Allah is summoned at the beginning and at the end of each treatment, during which the patient is smothered and sprinkled with various herbs and concoctions. At the end of the session, the President blesses some peanuts before handing them over to the patient: “It is not just any peanut. You have to pray on it”, the President explains.


But Jammeh is adamant about divulging his magical formula to his fellow Africans: “Never in a million years” he obstinately asserts.

*Quotes extracted from