“DEKABI SUMA BOSS-LA”, President Jammeh told Gambians and the rest on the world in his televised Eid message broadcast on GRTS. Amazingly, all the state ministers and Islamic clerics sitting from across him sheepishly nodded their heads in approval to his claim of ownership of the Gambia. On the one hand, on a constitutional and legal point, one can dismiss his claim as preposterous and oafish. To better sculpt a colourful image of my exposition, I would sponge Wikipedia’s designation of the term country. Most importantly, it will help President Jammeh distinguish “a compound” from “a country” as it appears he is confusing the two. “A country is a region identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated people with distinct political characteristics. Regardless of the physical geography , in the modern internationally accepted legal definition as defined by the League of Nations in 1937 and reaffirmed by the United Nations in 1945, a resident of a country is subject to the independent exercise of legal jurisdiction” (Wikipedia). On the contrast, a compound when referred to connote human habited, is an enclosure of houses or buildings by either walls or any structures belonging to a particular family or individual for instance Jeng Kunda, Baldeh Kunda and Jammeh Kunda. Consequently, for President Jammeh to claim ownership of the Gambia as a country as opposed to a compound, it is fitting to deem him as a leader who has lost his perimeters of leadership.
On the other hand, however, one can jump on the wagon of those uncaring, selfish and unpatriotic Gambians who were sheepishly nodding their heads in approval like a bunch of drunken zombies and cruise with the euphoria. Perhaps their reasons are punctuated amply in all his unconstitutional decrees. Firstly, it is an open secret that Jammeh is synonymous to Gambia as he embodies all judicial, legislative and executive institutions of the Gambia. If that is anything to go by then one cannot but agree with him that he owns the Gambia and Gambians as well. Jammeh abuses his office day in and out yet not an eyebrow is raised. Nevertheless, Sabally, Njogou Bah, Jobarteh and Mambury Njie can be imprisoned for neglect of duty and abuse of office. Interesting, isn’t it? President Jammeh can order the execution of 9 inmates in broad daylight and yet again he his hailed “Babili Mansa” and the greatest African leader of all ages. President Jammeh can comfortably deny Gambians their birth and religious right to be buried in their own country and we all look the other side as if without him we are worthless. This reminds me of a Wolof narrative: “Yallah dafai gell sa worsack mu jaraleko si kenen. Soo naago fock ne koku sula woche daga torrouck. Yallah bayela ahk joju waye dila say tan”. Which literally translate “sometime God may destiny your luck through another person but if you conclude that without the individual your will be ridden with misfortunes, God will forsake you and watch you and that person”. We have for long let Jammeh get away with his banditry and arrogance. His unchecked pomposity and contempt for constitutional laws are not only designing a lifelong insecurity for Gambians both home and abroad but also shrinking us into his personal artefacts collection. To make himself feel like he is “a celebrity” worthy of a grain of salt, he has to abuse, humiliate, torture and incarcerate innocent and vulnerable Gambians to deflate their pride and self-esteem. That way he thinks, in his deluded and jelly mind, his terminal inferiority complex will be augmented and be endorsed by society which has always continued to scorn him.
Furthermore, President Jammeh finds it testing to demarcate between his private and public life and responsibilities. At one point, he assumes the role of a religious cleric and within the blind of an eye; he switches into a judge and jury. As his audience strive to be at length with his gaffing, he turns into a maroon trying to impress his bemused spectators. What is even more laughable is his persistent futile referencing the Quran with his famous lines “it is in the Quran” and “the Quran and Prophet said it”, but never quoted a particular verse or sura to qualify his statement. It elicits his lack of knowledge about Islam and the Quran otherwise he would have emulated Abubacarr, Omar, Ousman or Ali (RNH): powerful, brave, rich but very humble and mindful of the rights of their subjects especially the poor and weak. Unrepentantly, he radiates loathsome arrogance, hatred and disrespect for establishment. Well Kaba Sallah has surmised Jammeh aptly when he affirmed, “Jammeh came to power with a chip on his shoulder, that he is not getting any respect because of his Jola ethnic background, Ebou said as much. Jammeh’s early pronouncements and policy decision support this theory that he wants to uplift the social status of the Jola ethnic group…Another point is that not only were the junta members young, but also angry and vindictive”. President Jammeh still agonizes from inferiority complex and chillingly more vindictive than ever before. This is explicitly manifested in his uncultured manners particularly when addressing the nation.
Now that Jammeh has publicly claimed ownership of the Gambia as his personal possession, what are we going to do about it as Gambians? Alternatively, should I console my sanity which what Sedia Jatta once said: “Gambians love to be oppressed by President Jammeh”?
Sulayman Jeng, Birmingham, UK