Burkinabe Protesters – Gambians implored to emulate!
A. SAVAGE-A SEASONED VETERAN SOLDIER
The Army calls it AAR (After-Action Review), some civilians call it Periodical Review, others call it Re-evaluation, and others say it is called Periodic Report, while others call it Taking Stock. Other smart people call it Assessment, and some say it is called Recap. Whatever name you elect to call it, you must at least once a year have a re-evaluation of your objectives compared to the results, your shortcomings and successes (if any) are evaluated, and efforts re-directed where necessary and warranted, to achieve your goal or maximize your strides to achieve the objective that was set up in the first place. It is the aim of any individual or entity to achieve objectives in the shortest possible time and, given the nature of what you set out to do, with less or no “collateral damage” to self or others, especially to innocent people.
NOW, can we have an AAR of “this struggle”? An AAR of this diaspora phenomenon would go a long way. Has the momentum of the “struggle” died down or is it picking up “steam”? Or, is it all smokes and no FIRE? Or was it one of those “high and low” moments to effect regime change in The Gambia that have been going on for almost 21 years now?
Before the advent of this social media that now seemingly proliferate “the struggle” with online radios, Facebook, Twitter and media outlets, where were all these participants, spectators, demonstrators, commentators and observers who are now ingrained in “this struggle? Where were they?
In other words, before the advent of these online radios, and this recent online social blitz now circling the airspace of this “struggle”, where were all these “demonstrators”, “human rights activists”, “participants”, and these recent entities? Where were they? Some of them were busy being “enablers” of a regime they now despise. And let me be quick to add here that there are Honest, Upright, Dedicated and Honorable men and women, at home in The Gambia and overseas (diaspora), who were never part and parcel of that regime, when they could have, but did not, and so why not entrust these upright, honest Gambians with the affairs of “this struggle” than to ones with shady history of association with that regime? These PRIORS can assist and help in any way they can with this “struggle”, but we all must understand that Accountability and Transparency will be the watch words post-Jammeh, and that the Gambian people will be the Final Sayer of any and all FUTURE accountability commissions or no commission. There are some things called REFERENDUMS and ELECTIONS. Anyway, back to our topic of AAR.
There are probably more Gambian political parties, politicians, political pundits, political analysts and commentators in this diaspora than there are in The Gambia.
Are these so-called diasporan “civil society organizations” with political trimmings all over them going to win elections in The Gambia from here in the diaspora? Can they, in fact, affect elections in The Gambia one way or the other, and sway voters?
I submit that “this struggle” really does need an AAR, and this time it must converge and consolidate its efforts, and redirect its fire, lest it continues on this sporadic trend of high and low moments for who knows how long more, maybe another 20 years.
In just a matter of three short weeks or so, it will be one year since the grandiose entry of a certain entity into this diaspora landscape or airspace, with so much fanfare that they were primed and ready to effect a change of the barbaric regime back home, “by any and all means”, including force.
If my memory serves me right, some of us would recall that with the hula hoop fanfare entry of this entity, calling itself along the lines of a Resistance Movement, some of us thought that they were primed, ready and going in the next week, month or two, to effect regime change in the Gambia, by “any and all means, including force”. But we now know, by their own admission, they do not even have enough funds from their “go-fund me” escapade to even buy air tickets, much more rifles (with all due respect, it takes resources and manpower to announce to the world that you were primed and ready to take over a government). And ohh, didn’t they know it was going to take resources and manpower to overthrow a government by the method they articulated? Or maybe, were they betting on their “go-fund me” venture to do the trick?
Like I have always maintained, taking over a government, short of outright coup, (which, in this case, it was not) is not like taking over the management of some Burger King or McDonald’s restaurant. It would require resources and manpower, and that is something you just don’t come out and announce on the air if and when you are given free air time, at a time you knew very well, and by your own admission later, that you lack the required resources and manpower to do the job. And at a time when you are thousands of miles away from “ground zero” to take “command and control” of any and all situations. And when I submitted or pointed this out at the time and that such pronouncements were premature, unwise and were giving false hopes and aspirations, envious people were sent on me, and they barked and barked. They can do all the barking they want, but that’s just about all they can do.
And as if that was not enough, they engaged on character assassination, mud-throwing and name-calling. And then, as if that was still not enough, they questioned my reason and motives for visiting The Gambia on a regular basis. Really? As much as I was stunned that they would employed such tactics, I was not surprised because I knew what I knew, not from google, or “peace-keeping missions” in Africa, or elsewhere, but from being a simple, low-rank soldier doing the “dirty work” I was trained for, and was good at. I will never, ever apologize for a distinguished, honorable and dedicated military career. In fact, I am very proud of it. And do not mistake this PRIDE for an EGO.
One cannot buy experience from a store, or from being a “Colonel” or even a “General”. In short, that low-ranking soldier with more battle or armed struggle knowledge gained from first-hand experience is braver, and more knowledgeable than that “general”, “colonel” or “captain”, who lacks such first-hand knowledge and experience, when it comes to the “use of force”. How can you compare an Infantry soldier, no matter his rank, who has a Combat Infantry Badge, among others, under his belt, and who has seen and participated in war, battles and missions, with a “colonel” of “peace-keeping” missions, who has not participated in battles, or seen or knows the effects of war or any armed conflict? If I was to be led or lead anyone of these two to a battle or a fight, and if given the choice, I will select and take the low ranking soldier over that “Colonel”, any day. A good leader is a good follower.
Allow me now to redirect here:
Some in this “diaspora” are not in it for what is or isn’t best for The Gambia. They are in it for their own selfish interests, and for fame, glory and financial gains post-Jammeh. Such manifestation is not only a disservice to The Gambia, but I respectfully submit is dishonest and conniving. The Truth hurts, but it is about time we start to be brutally honest with each other, so that we can begin to build a Stronger National Foundation for The Gambia, based on truth, honesty, PATRIOTISM and service, lest our future generations judge us when they write our history.
Also, there is something called accountability and transparency, and so, I, and many or all of us, would not put our money where such funds will not be used for the intended purposes, or misused, especially when in-built mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability are inadequate, insufficient or just plain missing. We, all of us, worked, or are working, hard for our individual or group’s money.
Another message that I have put across few times, and which must have come across loud and clear by now is this: We must distinguish the people of The Gambia from the barbaric regime there. Many of us have made this distinction, while others are unsure. You can love your country and dislike or hate the government.
ARE we, in the diaspora, who are not living under dictatorship, any better than our people living under dictatorship? OR vice versa?
My point is this: no matter how ridiculous, insane or barbaric it may seem to you and me, you respect the laws of the land you are under. Of course, you will not agree with it, but you MUST respect it. You have a choice: change it, stay there and live with it, or get out of there.
I DO NOT HEREIN, IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, FORM OR DESIGN, CONDON ENABLERS, RECYCLABLES, ACCOMPLICES AND ACCESSORIES, former, current or future.
Once again: I hate the government of The Gambia, but I love The Gambia. So, whenever I go to the Gambia I respect the laws of the land. Bravery does not mean you go around being arrogant and stupid, bravery means you plan and execute smartly, and do not do stupid stuff. The Gambia does not have the same kind of free speech America has. In America, even hate speech is protected. So, you can go all around in America and say and write all you want about how much you hate Monster Jammeh, but just be very careful, very, very, very careful, how you go about saying and doing that in The Gambia.
Don’t former ministers of the previous regime, and others associated with the current regime travel overseas to Europe and America, and hold meetings, rallies and so on? And in these public discourse or engagements, don’t they made statements that they will not make in the Gambia? In the Gambia, they will not even have such gatherings without a “permit” from the government, and we know of many cases where permits by opposition parties to hold rallies have been denied. Further, one doesn’t have to look too far but Youtube, and other social media sites to read, hear and see “disturbing”, and or “unfavorable” pronouncements from many people, including former prominent Gambians who are, as we speak, currently living in The Gambia.
And when they return to The Gambia, don’t they keep “quiet”? Are they any less or more Gambians than you and me? OR vice versa? They are all Gambians like you and I.
If you are not already wanted in The Gambia, when you go there just watch what you say, write and do, and keep a low profile.
Finally, hope in the processes of doing this diaspora AAR, the logical and compelling reason to regroup under a unity of action clearly manifests itself, and transcends egos, ambitions and self-centered perspectives, and the paramount National Interest of The Gambia resurfaces.
God’s speed to this cause.
By Abdul Savage
Retired, US Army
Member, Military Order of the Purple Heart
Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars.