In an oppressive political and waning economic state, citizens often react to their malevolent situation variedly. Others lash out at the leadership. Some dive and duck reality by matching on like life is hunky dory. A few stand up and say oh, hell no and strive for a change by any means whereas a handful will opt for the unpopular but route that will usher in a peaceful and meaningful political change that showers development on its citizenry. The same is portrayed in the Gambian quest for political change. Lamentably, we are habitually apprehensive in deflowering virgin routes to attain our common goal of effecting a meaningful political change.
Nonetheless, one thing remains undisputable dictators are only removed by concerted action. Most of us part ways here: our choice of action. While some astutely believe it is only the barrel and bullet that will unshackle the Gambia from dictatorship, others on the contrast argue Jammeh is not worthy of plunging the Gambia into a bloodbath thus maintain a united and well-funded opposition will do the magic. Similarly, the diplomats among us opted for a negotiation and engaging approach. However, those that muscle their pens and caress their microphones concluded ramming unwavering pressure on sensitive Jammeh would eventually break him up thus shoving him into a negotiation table. Candidly, any of the approaches can upshot the change we all crave, but each has its own ramification and suffice it to say neither will come easy.
Logically, it is premature and ludicrous to engage President Jammeh on a negotiation route at this peak of the struggle. To begin with, President Jammeh suffers from a chronic unpredictability disorder. A radiant instance of his randomness was when Fatou Camara coordinated a meeting between him and the Gambian Press. The moment Sam Sarr began his speech omitting Jammeh’s unending tags; he swelled like a terrified frog and unceremoniously call off the meeting. His mood swings makes him unapproachable and imprudent to deal with. Furthermore, President Jammeh is not true to his words and any person who is not true to his word is dangerous to deal with. This he clearly manifested in his recent refusal for the UN observers to visit the Gambia after giving them the greenlight months ago. The same Jammeh who swore to uphold the constitution, blatantly prostitute it daily. Well, I am not eulogizing Sana Sabally but at the beginning most Gambians accepted he was the rotten one among them. When Sanna was disgracefully obliterated from the sketch, Edward inherited the bad boy badge of evil. Now all these sinning angels are out of his way yet things are getting worse. The Mandingo teaches “Fisiyaa mbe dawooda kenday yaa te jay”. “Barry” who is the evil one then? I am compelled to endorse an Asian paradigm “when a leader is good, the people will be good but when the leader is bad, the people will be as bad as him”.
Gambians are generally distinguished by their loving, caring and forgiving nature. All they want, concisely, is their rights respected without short change. No one will dispute that is an unreasonable demand. President Jammeh remains defiant and unrepentant despite the bitter pills he gulped during his recent US visit. He not only lashed out at his personal security to revamp his punctured pride but also designed another laughable title to compliment his already galaxy of preposterous ones. All these amplify the fact that Jammeh is not willing to hand over power in the next foreseeable future. As a result, to assume that President Jammeh will hurry himself to a negotiating table and uphold agreements for his peacefully exit is not only a farfetched dream but flirting with the devil. One thing President Jammeh relentlessly strives to keep at bay is mounting pressure. Albeit he projects himself as a hard nut to crack, beneath his snow-white grand mboubou is a very susceptible man.
Who said the recent DC demo did not devastate President Jammeh? Unlike his previous showdown with Gambian nonconformists in America, his recent experience was a cocktail of embarrassment, betrayal and loss of respect for him. For instance, when officials from the State Department confronted and made it clear to him that America takes assault on peaceful demonstrators very serious, Jammeh for the first time was lost of words with embarrassment. Jammeh’s submissive compliance with the State Department officials bewildered his henchmen who were bracing for a ballistic reaction from their Babili Mansa. The departure of his uninvited visitors awakened Jammeh to the trap he was led into by his advance team and DC Embassy officials. He was made to believe that this visit would be but “with a difference”. He was assured of a tumultuous welcome by APRC militants and series of meeting with turncoats and apologists like Samsudeen Sarr. When his expectations failed to see the light of day, he felt betrayed. As a result of which, he ordered his embassy staff not to see him off.
Like a blasphemer whose gods are determine to vandalize, Jammeh’s DC humiliation was closely followed by damning dissecting of his underworld by his very own cousin, Pa Bojang. A little bird has it since the going public of Pa Bojang; President Jammeh has been reduced to a cry baby refusing to leave his room in Kanilai until the family prevail on Pa Bojang to desist from talking any further. “Bingo!” Pa Nderry Mbai would say. Yes indeed, Bingo it is for the struggle. Pa Bojang is a rare gold dust for us especially with his huge youth followers at home. Instead of going after Jammeh to negotiate if we ramp him up with more unflinching pressure, he will be forced to subdue and come after us soliciting a deal. In a final note, we must alert ourselves in the struggle to cross paths with activists with different ambitions. Some pursuing their personal agenda, others who will always throw in a towel, few who will stand up tall and fight side by side with you. However, the ones who are truly important are those who sacrifice everything they personally cherish for the freedom of all Gambians. Those are the people who are not only rare but also amazing because they bring the best out of the struggle and remind you why we must continue to step up the pressure on Jammeh. Until then let the aluta continua.
Sulayman Jeng, Birmingham, UK