No British Governor Ever Displayed Jammeh’s Brand of Madness, Arrogance, Dictatorial Tendency

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                                                                     Guest Editorial

For those of us old enough to have assembled during Empire Day at what was then called the McCarthy Square to sing God Save our Gracious Queen, or to have assembled at the same venue on Independence Day 18th February of 1965, to sing The Gambia National Anthem for the first time, or to have lived through the 30-year presidency of  Sir Kairaba Jawara, and to have witnessed the seizure of State power in 1994 by a group of young army lieutenants, promising change for the better, it has been 22 years hence, and we have come a full circle to witness yet another change of government. This time, the change is being made possible by the coalition of 7 political parties, including a splinter rival, and by a decisive democratic process, resulting in the unseating of the ruling APRC, which the majority of Gambians have come to regard as a one man show. But this change has yet to be concluded as we speak, for its resistance by no other person but Jammeh is yet to be laid to rest.

Going back a little further, the Toubabs (white colonialists)who came to The Gambia, like the others who went to various parts of Africa, as cited in the colonialists’ history pages, came supposedly on missions to civilize and to extend the gospels of religion, just as was claimed by their Arab predecessors few centuries earlier, who came from the North, across the Sahara Desert. Some of us know of course that these “noble missions” were nothing but subterfuges of much more nefarious but lucrative objectives to enslave, to exploit, and to expropriate the rights of Africans/Gambians from their birth rights, on every dimension – spiritual, psychological, and material. Unfortunately, the peddled narrative of this sad history, both by the invaders as well as by their converts, is that our leaders stood by helplessly, as our peoples were taken away and as our natural resources were extracted and exported.

We will depart from such nonsense and from such obfuscation of history or contemporary events to emphasize that it was the treachery and complicity of leadership, as was in the past as is in the present, which resulted into the slave trade, into the colonial period, and into the present day neo-colonial quagmire. It was Africa’s rulers of the past, under the extreme feudalistic circumstances of those years, who largely precipitated the gross human rights violations, leading to slavery, and to the massive and pervasive social destruction of the continent. And it is the leaders of the present, under the extreme circumstances of impunity, who are perpetuating the political, social and economic backwardness of today. So, we should not entertain any denial of this fact from the onset, that African leaders had a huge hand in the malaise which had befallen the continent.

Which brings me to my main point; the gimmicks of the ex-president, in the face of his defeat in the past general election and his contradictory denial to accept the results of the elections, are just few of the examples of the failures of Africa’s leadership—as was in the past, as is in the present. Jammeh constantly vilified the West and the erstwhile colonialists, accusing them of crimes against Africa and being responsible for the hardship of its natives.  He opted out of the Commonwealth on that note. For those of us old enough to have had a glimpse of colonial rule, no British governor ever displayed Jammeh’s brand of madness, arrogance, dictatorial tendency, or impunity to eliminate dissidents and journalists in like manner. This is not to deny that apartheid ever existed in South Africa in the gruesome way it did, or that Ian Smith declared UDI on the backs of 3 million Zimbabweans. Not at all; but we note, even in those gruesome circumstances, much to our chagrin, that the so-called leaders of the African victims had their hands bloodied in huge measure against their own people.

For those still in denial that the African leadership is ultimately responsible for the deplorable situation of the continent, think again. For instance, for the past 22 years, many of us so-called elite in managerial or leadership positions, intellectuals, and what have you, cowered under the dictatorship of Jammeh, even though his regime displayed less common sense than a tethered donkey.

And how many of us supposedly enlightened Gambians gravitated into his cabinet only to be jettisoned out, many times in disgrace, usually after an obsequious and shameless display of loyalty? An observer once told me that Jammeh’s rule was a comedy show, but I thought it was a tragedy.

At last, the people have spoken and have given their verdict. They have had enough of the craziness. But Jammeh says he is not budging; he said so on national TV. And true to character, he is going to appoint Supreme Court judges who will decide favourably on his petition to annul the election results.

I predict, if he achieves this legal feat to give himself basis not to step down, there is going to be a showdown; it may not be long lasting, but it could be gruesome, given the newly promoted and delusional Army Generals running around with Jalang amulets around their necks. If this happens, we cannot deny the hands of bad governance for 22 years, but equally, the culpability of all of us who did nothing during the same period, other than to butter our breads while the whole nation was going to the dogs.

But the people have spoken – now; the “voice of the people is the voice of God.” We must listen and we must make sure that it prevails.

Bai Lamin Jobe
Kerr Serigne N’jagga, The Gambia, West Africa

Reproduced and sligtly modified courtesy of The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

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