In Gambia, The Embers Of Civil Strife Burn Furiously

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By Mathew K Jallow, Madison, Wisconsin

It is a war that has sapped the wills of so many, and forced the escape, to freedom, of so many others. It is an undefined war that is also fought in the minds, and which has tested the will and challenged the depths of a nation’s commitment to itself. And it is a war without borders; but with frontiers that extend as far as the imagination. There is nothing a human-being cherishes more than liberty and the mental and intellectual freedom, which occupy its space. But the last two decades have been extremely challenging for Gambians on so many levels; not the least of which is the frequency with which they have died; often through military executions, but more often through state sanctioned murders. The harrowing story of a Gambian who under cover of darkness had escaped to an obscure border village in Cassamance and made the treacherous journey to freedom in Dakar, Senegal, partly tell Gambia’s cruel story. The walk through the perilous forest, which spreads infinitely in all directions, was brutal and as scary as anything he faced back home, but accustomed, as he was, to leaving his protection to his religious beliefs, he resigned his fate to a higher power.

Several years ago, Gambians and non-Gambians who faced the wrath of a vulnerable and paranoid regime were mostly blacklisted based on tribe and political affiliation, but Gambia has since morphed into a gigantic prison camp, where no one is safe, and everyone is vulnerable to abduction and forced disappearance. The Gambian military regime, determined to cling on to power, despite popular rejection, has created a situation of permanent chaos and crisis in Gambia, which has allowed the executions, mysterious deaths, broad daylight shooting deaths, the forced disappearances and the fleeing of Gambians from their own country. Both, politically and economically, the Gambia’s situation has become completely untenable and the desire for regime change, both necessary and inevitable.

Historically, even the most genocidal regimes of Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot and Idi Amin Dada, had their share of cheerleaders and enablers, comprising the self-interested, the gullible, the desensitized and the plain old disinterested and cruel. And like all the regimes, which ended up in flames, the Gambia’s military regime, rather than learn from the lessons of history, has chosen to deliberately ignore the perils of its chicanery and political tyranny. But the regime’s history of executions, murders and forced disappearances of Gambians, notwithstanding, few Gambians have dared to challenge the distressed nation by being supportive of a deadly regime at the expence of citizens’ deaths and forced disappearances.

It is a widely unpopular position that regime supporters justify with arguments of maintaining peace and security in a country where peace and security have not existed in two decades. This way for regime supporters to rationalize the Gambian situation is both confounding and unbelievable, considering that beneath the surface tranquillity in Gambia, the embers of civil strife burn furiously, and the desire for revenge and regime change are the driving forces behind diaspora’s tireless efforts. For if there is one thing that is universal among Gambians, it is their desire to once again live in a country where the lost characters of peace and human dignity are the hallmarks of government.

The dumbest and most insane arguments Gambians have heard from regime supporters, over the past two decades, is the campaign to seek ‘amnesty’ for the Gambian diaspora who continue to fight to end the bloody carnage and political mayhem in their country. The lessons of our culture and religious heritage dictate Gambians to seek forgiveness for their own errors; consequently seeking amnesty from Yahya Jammeh, is not unlike asking the murderer of our nephews, fathers, uncles, sisters, mothers, neighbors and fellow citizens, to forgive us for the heinous crimes he continues to commit. The fact that Yahya Jammeh passed an Indemnity Bill in the National Assembly nearly a decade ago is proof of where he thinks blame for Gambia’s massive crimes lie.

More importantly, Yahya Jammeh has killed more Gambians since he forced his regime’s indemnification by the National Assembly, prompting questions whether he desired to end the carnage in Gambia in the first place. As it turned out, not even the reconciliation that Yahya Jammeh himself masterminded and funded five years ago could stop his execution, murder and abduction of more Gambians. But despite Yahya Jammeh’s history of reversals and especially the enormity of his crimes against Gambians, the binary effects of self-interest and delusion, continue to bury some Gambians under a heap of an impossible fantasy


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