Let All Midget Dictators be warned of the impending Revolution
African Dictators and their years in power
By Kaba Sallah
This Revolution will not be televised on GRTS, nor will it be announced on the Daily Observer, or celebrated at Kanilai, but the good people of Gambia will expel wannabe King, Dictator Yaya Jammeh and his minions sooner than they would like to believe. When the people storm Kanilai and Banjul, our own Queen, Marie Antoinette, a.k.a Zainab Suma Jammeh, will be offering Tapa Lapa bread to the hungry natives, to pacify them– us Gambians – since she has never shared our suffering, or shared our values. Dictator Yaya Jammeh cannot escape the people’s justice, just like his peers in Zaire, Tunisia, Libya and Now Burkina Faso – the noose is getting closer, tightening.
While we celebrate the downfall of another entrenched Dictator, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, as Gambians, we must also be undergoing a introspection, a self-examination of our own situation, and what we can learn from our Burkinabe brothers and sisters. While the Harmattan, or Black Revolution was unfolding on the streets of Ouagadougou, the midget Dictator of Banjul, the wannabe King of Kanilai, Yaya Jammeh, had a complete blackout of the news events, to keep the people ignorant and docile. But thanks to the citizen journalists of the Internet, Facebook, and Gambians are following every development and learning from it. This Revolution in Burkina Faso did not happen overnight.
Lessons for the Gambian Opposition
The Burkinabe people and opposition have resisted the illegal junta that overthrew the government of Thomas Sankara, from day one, since 1987. Blaise Camporee conspired to assassinate his own best friend, (Sankara), because he was too ambitious. Remember that Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar, because the latter was over-ambitious, but Brutus himself became consumed with power and greed, and his actions precipitated a decline of Rome. Campaore failed to save Burkina from abject poverty while he and his family amassed wealth. Sounds familiar, just like in Gambia, Dictator Yaya Jammeh claimed to have seized power from President Jawara to stop corruption and abuse of public property. The question is, how are we doing in the corruption, the ill-gotten wealth, the nepotism, the persecution, the disappearance departments, and twenty years later? Is Gambia, under Dictator Jammeh less corrupt, safer, freer, better quality of life? I think not!
Like Sankara, Koro Ceesay, and countless more, were killed under mysterious circumstances. Today, twenty years later, citizens and political prisoners, perceived enemies of the state, even professional civil servants ( the professionals at agricultural Dept. ) are languishing in jail. Jammeh is competing with the state agricultural department, by establishing his own, called the Kanilai Farms (or KGI). So, to derail the state’s efforts, he arrests the professionals, the experts and throws them in jail. This can only happen in Gambia, where the president is actively competing and undermining the national economy. This is tantamount to serious economic crimes being committed by the president himself.
The Gambian opposition, led by the UDP, have become too reactionary and timid. In recent months, Gambians have become frustrated by lack of any meaningful, substantial, genuine attempts at coordinating efforts to form a unified coalition. No African Dictator will be removed from power by any single opposition party. As far as I am concerned, Gambians should Not donate money to a divided opposition. Lawyer Ousainou has a great legal mind, but his recent public statements and maneuverings show a lack of political and diplomatic skill in leading the formation of a coalition, yet it is still not too late. Lawyer has a point that the UDP is the biggest party on the ground, with structures across the country, but big alone has never won anything, on the other hand, strategy will produce results. It will take leadership to tame and unify the jangling interests into a formidable and respectable unit. You cannot save a sinking while squabbling and fighting over the loot, or who will be the captain after hitting the sea floor, only coordination, unity will save this ship. Or have we become the doomed workers at the Tower of Babel? Dictator Jammeh will never negotiate with an individual opposition party, no matter how big, period. The Black Revolution in Burkina Faso resisted dictatorship not just at the polls.
Dictators and Legislative activism – Power Consolidation.
Dictators take a long time to consolidate their power. They always use the gun at first. After replacing military fatigues with Italian suits, grande Boubous (3 piece), now a mystical staff and counting beads, in Jammeh’s case. They embark on legitimizing their rule, to consolidate their grip on power, through the democratic legislative process. In both Gambia and Burkina, both Dictators used the legislative process to amend the constitution, in the end controlling some 80% of the votes in the Houses parliament. In the case of Gambia, Jammeh was able to intimidate Gambians into voting for a referendum in 1997 to suit his long term plans. Now the three branches of Government in the Gambia have become one, under Dictator Jammeh. Both he and Campaore have used democratic means to consolidate their illegal hold on power. They regularly rack up 60 to 80% of the votes. The point here is that Dictatorships have to be fought not just at the polls, they also must be resisted in the Kangaroo courts to expose their hypocrisy and deceit. Unjust laws are meant to be resisted and rejected. I call on all “genuine” opposition leaders, especially Lawyer Ousainou, to use legal skills and guts, and camp out outside the courts to challenge laws that restrict the oppositions’ freedom of association, speech, and illegal imprisonment. By now the public should have been called upon to march to Mile 2 and free Amadou Sanneh, and countless others. We have reached that point now, to take to the streets to challenge our own oppressors. We can no longer outsource our own salvation. It’s time to lead the cavalry into battle, show us that you all mean business. This current status quo is unsustainable, we can no longer play by Jammeh rules, his divide and conquer tactics. Jammeh also liberally uses state resources to burnish his image and pacify, and neutralize opposition bastions, or the faint-hearted.
Dictatorial Benevolence and Image construction
Burkina Faso may be a landlocked country but it also has huge reserves of gold, the fourth largest exporter in Africa. It is also a leading exporter of cotton. In 27 years, Campaore has only been successful in reducing famine and hunger, not eliminating it. Youth unemployment and poverty is chronic, just like in Gambia. Jammeh cannot claim to have improved the lives of Gambians, using any indicator. The educational system has collapsed, just look at the graduation rates and exam results. Numbers don’t lie, but liars do. In terms of economics, use yourself, your family and your friends as the best indicator of how low Gambia has fallen under Dictator Jammeh, the last twenty years.
The difference is that, in Burkina Faso the people did not take it lying down, with opposition leadership, they said enough is enough and took to the streets to storm the Bastille – to burn down all symbols of their oppression. Where is the Gambian opposition, to resist and make junta reverse unjust laws, free all political prisoners,. To make the country ungovernable? Dictators hate crowds of angry citizens, marching in the cities. Having failed at home, Campaore invested heavily in burnishing his international and foreign policy image, as a regional peace-maker, with dubious results. Remember that Yaya Jammeh also tried to be a peace broker in the Casamance conflict, until the Senegalese uncovered his mask, and discovered his true hegemonic and monarchical ambitions and plans. Dictator Jammeh also uses targeted, and well published rampant, but misguided benevolence to burnish his image in the eyes of the poor and illiterate voters. He reserves and adopts delusional titles for himself, to make up for his lack of personal accomplishments, just look at his resume for yourself Now Dictator Jammeh surrounds himself with an aura of mysticism, presents himself as a religious benefactor and protector against perceived threats to the faith. Legitimacy is an elusive thing for dictators, and they are obsessed about acquiring it. But no matter how hard they try to change the laws, indulge in monetary profligacy, they can never legislate legitimacy into the hearts of the people.
The Harmattan Revolution is in the hearts Gambians, it is burning inside of all of us, at home and abroad. Where is the leadership to stoke the people into action? Great leaders are defined, molded, and written into history, in moments like this, when they seize the moment and inspire citizens to chart their own future by taking to the streets. Dictator Jammeh’s followers will run on the first news of people in the streets, because they are only loyal to their pockets, they are not loyal to any ideology worth fighting and dying for. We know Jammeh’s so called generals and minions all have a Plan B to flee to Senegal on the first sound of public agitation, so they can enjoy their ill-gotten gains in peace. Where is the Gambian opposition, where is the action, where is the leadership? Otherwise, is it time to Boycott the opposition?
By: Kaba Sallah