MOMODOU NJAI – DETERMINED TO BROKER PEACE BETWEEN JAMMEH AND HIS ANTAGONISTS
DOES HE LOOK BOTHERED?
Why H.E Sheikh Prof. Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Nasirul Deen Babili Mansa President of The Gambia, needs to reach out to the calls for an open dialogue?
For 50 years since Independence, we the people of The Gambia have seen tremendous gains in achievement and developments, but also suffered heinous crimes and human right violations that have set us back as a nation. The achievements made possible were built on the institutions in place that the P.P.P had created which paved the way for education, agriculture, transportation, investments, tourism, separation of checks and balances, foreign relations, the rule of law etc, and most of all there was peace. Although the setbacks where clearly there to see, not many saw the setbacks because off the peace they enjoyed. There was a huge gap of social class, favoring of who gets what in the fastest way possible due to status, but the biggest of all, was the staying in power for 30years without having term limits in the constitution. One could argue it should have being there, but did the party really want it even when H.E Sir Dawda wanted to step down? No! Well why not? Cause they wanted to keep enjoying the peace and stability that favored them.
Now, those who were really affected by the system came in with vengeance and wanted to clean a system that had failed them. It failed them because nothing was in there for them other than peace and to witness the fortunate that were climbing the ladder while the soldiers held the ladder for them to climb on by stepping on their faces. When it was time for a payback, the soldiers made sure that the fortunate would become beggars, and that they would lose all the respect the people had for them except for a few. Also, by appointing our intellects and tossing them to their misery. The APRC saw the failures of the P.P.P and capitalized on building an airport, TV station, reaching out to the public and telling them what they needed to hear. H.E Prof. Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Nasirul Deen Babili Mansa built schools, a university for further education, infrastructural development projects, agriculture, youth programs, scholarships, and gave an opportunity through the Saudi government to many for hajj pilgrimages, and built hospitals, etc. With all those developments, the setbacks were beyond anything the Gambian people had ever experienced. Corruption that was in the fight when he came to power got worse, crime was on the rise, victims being shot without further investigation was rampant, coup plots were on the rise, the press was squeezed giving them no freedom to write as they please , and human rights abuse became the normal since the overthrowing of July 94. The peace that was enjoyed by so many was now replaced by development, and people living in fear. No development can, or should ever take place where there is no peace, and what is more important than the dignity or life of a person!! The history given here is to show that while there was good and bad in both administrations, they both wanted to stay in power for a long time and using different tactics to get there way. None of these two administrations put in place a system to stop and end their stay in power willingly by putting in term limits. One used peace to stay in power and the other used force to stay in power. Now, what would it take to stop a third revolution from coming in to take from all the good of the two administrations and fix the wrongs once and for all? Is it possible that H.E Prof. Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Nasirul Deen Babili Mansa can avoid all this by accepting reforms and putting in place what has being missing for so long?
Yes he can if he reaches out. He needs to reach out because with all the many supporters that Sir Dawda Jawara had, it didn’t take one week for the people of Gambia to forget how much they loved President Jawara and all the peace they enjoyed to throw him under the bus with his party. With the many supporters the current President has now and how they rally behind him, it wouldn’t also take a week for the people to forget all the good he has done for them because of his over stay and not accepting to reform what is broken. The citizens of The Gambia that have being victims are getting more frustrated and so bitter that, the longer this plays out without reforms, I fear that the clock will run out just as it did for Sir Dawda Jawara, and God knows what will happen next. The wise thing to do is to learn from the mistakes of Sir Dawda Jawara, and put in place the reforms necessary to move the country towards reconciliation. The unjust laws such as the information Act, the denying of rallying permits, the homosexual act, and need to know basis of information are all hampering development. As Martin King Jr. said, “How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust “I was arrested for parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust.” To add on it in resemblance of the laws being passed to silence the people, he also said, “We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.” Gambians, I am sure we could tell which direction Martin Luther King would have taken if laws like these were passed under his watch. When Essa (Jesus) saw that a woman was about to be stoned to death, he said “let whom without sin cast the first stone and you shall have mine.” We act like Saints at times when we have skeletons in our closets. Certain laws will only take us back before the enlightenment era. These laws are cooking something and it is bringing more people towards the realization that, the future of exploration and technology advancement is slipping away from us. Anyone can be accused of being Gay and taken to rot in jail because of envy, jealousy, and malice. The President needs to change course because the future calls for changes and we cannot afford to lack behind other nations like Ghana that accepted reforms and is now striving. Now, time to answer your legitimate questions:
Why should President Jammeh listen to you if you cannot listen to your parents to stop?
First and foremost, I give thanks to God and to my parents for bringing me into this world. My parents have done a wonderful job bringing me up. My mother was home to nurture me while my father worked hard to provide for me. My father has taken me to some of the best schools, given me the best of life, got me study teachers, took me on a vacation trip, got me Islamic scholars, fed me well, cloth me, disciplined me, thought me respect, values, how to pray, how to be humble and down to earth, and took me abroad where I now reside. My mum gave me all the love, support, inspiration, admiration, nurture, kindness, compassion, and instilled in me values beyond my explanation. It was through God of cause that made all that possible, but I can never repay what they did for me and will never stop asking for their forgiveness.
Now, why after all this upbringing would I not do one thing they asked of me!! I am 31years old and for the whole 30 yrs of my life, I have always done what they asked of me. They will never say that I was a kid who never obeyed them. Unlike let’s say someone who had no respect for their parents, and never did what they ask of them, I am different. I have always held my parents up high thanks to God, and even when I came to the United States at 17yrs of age, I have never done anything they were not aware of. I would always ask for permission, call, and do what is expected of me as a son. When I was young, my whole perception of jail or prisons was that only criminals or bad people went there, but I was wrong when I grew up. Even good people get accused and falsely jailed only later to find out that they were innocent. I am in that same predicament as you read this. The question I will leave you all to answer is, why now all of a sudden after listening to my parents for all the 30yrs of my life and abiding by their instructions, not do one thing they have asked of me?
Why should you negotiate when you are not neutral?
What we need to get straight here is that I am not negotiating, but creating an environment conducive for dialogue to take place. I came up with proposals as a guideline so that we can start having honest debates to see what we can accept or work with, and whether we can start a process that can allow the changes we need in a peaceful way. I am neutral because I do not belong to any opposition party. I do not belong to any Diaspora organization. I have no political agenda. I have no hidden motives. Unlike some who would push their own interests, I have none other than that of The Gambia’s National Interest. I give credit where it’s due and speak the truth as it is. For the past two years since I joined the struggle, my call for reforms, reconciliation, and an open dialogue have being consistent. My plead for a peaceful resolution has being consistent. I do not wish harm or evil done to the President nor do I want to see the Diaspora groups or opposition parties harm themselves either. I know how those in the struggle feel and want to see change because I have interacted with some of the most sincere and honest people. I also have encountered some who say what they don’t mean and have ulterior motives. Getting someone who knows and experience what you feel when standing side by side with past protests would be more of an advocate than someone who never experienced the long hours you stood on your feet fighting for justice. Just as it is when the soldier goes to war, he or she can tell you what is really on the ground compared to someone thousands of miles away. I have never worked in the government or in the opposition parties. That to me is neutrality although I am not calling for me to be the negotiator, but I am asking to start a process that will make it possible for the President to reach out to the opposition parties, and Diaspora groups. But we need to have an open mind and learn to tolerate one another even if we disagree in approach. The victims and families that have suffered need not suffer anymore by us sitting and waiting. We need to do all we can to avoid more victims and chaos.
Why not take care of your family and mind your business?
Just as I have a family, and a right to see mine, so does the family members of those that are locked up, killed, tortured, and incommunicado. The economy needs to strive and investments need to flow so that the hardship felt would take the burden off everyone’s shoulder. It would be morally wrong as a Muslim and a human being to enjoy peace and deny that very same peace to others. No justice no peace as the saying goes but I also say, no peace no justice. Although I am not a Christian, in the bible I believe it says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” How can one be so selfish that we should only worry about ourselves? Is that not what got us in this mess. For far too long when a family member cries we say that is not my fight. When someone gets locked up we deny knowing the person like Judas. Even when one passes away, we don’t want to be seen paying tribute to the family members. How and when did we become so cruel that we have to turn our backs on every single one that has ever had a problem with the government? I say we are all family and should be united as closely as we are related. When we are on a boat travelling and there is a big whole underneath, some or a few won’t be saved, but we will all drown. So let us stop selling each other to the highest bidder, or throwing each other under the bus, because we are all one big family. No matter what tribe, class, or status one has, we will one day answer to our creator Allah. The very person you could have saved and said nothing could have been your ticket to paradise. May Allah guide and forgive us all for our shortcomings.
How can an Individual like you bring change? Why not let the E.U and International Community handle it?
It is true that because of lack of unity among the many groups, the opposition parties, and hidden agendas is why the E.U and International Community is not taking us seriously. But 20yrs of waiting only to find out that the E.U is still funding the government, when the word unity means degrade, and dismantle your partner with the same goal, I say there is no time to waste. The people in Basse or in Mile 2 cannot afford to wait for another 20yrs. It is amazing that the very same people who speak of it do not realize the damage they do when they speak ill of each other trying to score points. This is neither a game nor a competition. I am not negotiating but trying to create an atmosphere suitable for a dialogue. If Gambia or the person suffering really means something to us, we would do whatever we can to make sure that Gambia is free. But until then we keep holding on to our egos, and choosing what we should or should not do as if we are the most powerful nation on earth, I say keep dreaming on. I am not waiting for anyone nor should you. After 20yrs in, keep on choosing and fighting each other and see where Gambia will be. In every given situation, you measure your gains and cut your losses. Some live a comfortable life here in the Diaspora and sleep very well when they go to bed. But for the average Gambian who is thinking of what to eat the next day, he or she is putting all hopes on the person sleeping well. I say time to wake up from that sleep and do whatever you can to give that person equal sleep and a better life. We all have different routes to get to our goals but should never try to belittle anyone. One’s we say “my position is the right argument,” is what is killing us and dividing us even more. The International Community will only take us serious if we show them we are not all talk but actions. How about we all craft plans and meet to discuss what is viable and how to support each other to get there. We can put aside our differences just as I did with Captain Ebou Jallow to take one strategy at a time. We can do it only if we work collectively and stop feeling too proud to have a dialogue with the President. We are not negotiating our rights but negotiating the future of The Gambia. I know some are waiting for the President to die a natural death, others are working on killing him, others are waiting on him to lose elections, and some don’t want to see him go because they benefit from him, others worship him, others love him, and some just have no business with him at all. But one thing we can all be sure of is that he will eventually go, but no one knows how except God the almighty. I don’t know about you but my stand is I will do whatever it takes as long as it is a peaceful way that will not force, kill, or destroy the rest of Gambia with him. We cannot wait for him to be setting the agenda of what we will do tomorrow, but we need to change the course of our actions and support one another.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I hope to gain as much public support to pressure the President, opposition parties, Diaspora groups, and talk to the victims/families to work on a plan that would lead to Gambia’s freedom and restoration of true democracy. I hope the President would accept to reach out and start a process with all parties mentioned above. I hope that Senegal will play a huge role in seeing to it that something concrete and plausible gets done. I also hope that the International Community will come on board once we are united. I hope the President would accept some of the proposals I crafted before and work on the rest with the parties involved to a peaceful transition. Accepting term limits, freeing the political prisoners and mile 2 inmates, granting amnesty to those in the Diaspora, reforming the I.EC, having a reconciliation committee, and accepting to step down provided that we will guarantee his security and family’s safety will be on the table. We cannot force or demand that he step down because the people placed him there, but we can try to persuade and convince him that it will be in the best interest of the nation. We need to tone down the rhetoric and be more practical, but also be open minded to different options and strategies. There is no one way but there is God’s way that we are limited to. We also need a positive attitude and need to be hopeful, not cynical like we always do most of the time.
If we the Intelligent ones could not do it, what makes you think you can?
Again, this is not a competition or a challenge. We all have ideas and no one has all the answers to our problems. It is God who decides what will take place and how it will take place. Once we start thinking we are in control, we will get carried away and think we know it all. As far as am concerned, for 20yrs we have being under his leadership, so there are no intelligent ones here. We think we are intelligent but our intelligence has failed us for so long. Let us humble ourselves and try to get results. We should never look down on each other cause that is what created the smart one who studied us and was called the crazy one, to run the country and exile so many of our so called Intelligent selves. Please, let us accept each other for what and who we are, and use that intelligence to bring about change. It sure shouldn’t take 20yrs and if it did, I sure would be ashamed to call myself smart. Why me? There is no me except if God decides it will be me.
If President Jammeh does not accept to listen to you what will you do next?
It would then tell me and the world that the President does not want to dialogue with genuine Gambians who want good for the country. I don’t want to even say what I would do next, but be rest assured that it will still be peaceful. It will never be violence though. I am still hopeful though that he will come to the right conclusion and will do what is best for the country when all Gambians are united.
After all the killings, tortures, victims and abuses of human right violations, why should we reconcile and forgive President Jammeh?
I understand the pain and agony they are going through and hope that Allah will give them the hearts to heal and may God comfort them. Although very painful and difficult to tell victims and families to forgive him, and we truly sympathize with their losses, there is much more at stake. The country could destabilize and many more victims could fall. The Gambia could be in a civil war for years, and the country is too small for that. Think about it, I was born hearing about Kasamance fighting with Senegal and up to day, there is no unity. Ghadafi was taken out even with the help of the U.S and there is still no peace. Iraq is another example and so is Syria. How many have died and is war or creating a confrontation that can escalate to war actually worth the country sinking. Yes we have to find a solution, but a peaceful one would be much more preferable. When I am reminded by hot tempered people that we should kill him, ask them if they are training well to avoid being killed. This could be a battlefield and anyone calling for such actions must be willing to do it. We cannot afford to see a bloody Gambia and I will do everything I can to bring about the change we need but not at the expense of Gambia melting beyond repair.
Why are you in the struggle?
I am in the struggle for you Gambians and Gambia my homeland. I am in this struggle because it all started in this 1min 30 sec video when I protested to stop the executions. Also, the second link explains why I am in this struggle and why I am fighting? Watch them and find out why I am in this struggle by clicking the 2 links below!! Hope I have answered most of your legitimate questions and hope you will forgive me if you are still unclear. I ask for your forgiveness if I have offended anyone and hope we can learn something here. The blame would be on me if the message is still not clear and for that, I will apologize and hope to get back to you if reached on my facebook account by searching my name Momodou Njai.
Thanks for your patience and may ALLAH guide us to which is right and forbid us to which is wrong!! You can sign this petition by clicking this link to join the 140 people that have signed this peaceful initiative. Thanks to all! You have the option of not showing your name by clicking the anonymous choice. http://chn.ge/1q0BYl7?recruiter=14133391