By Pata PJ
I know it is very easy to be worn out on a long walk where the finish-line is not at sight. And I am talking about the psychological more than the physical wearing down. In that case, you could only be driven by DETERMINATION, FAITH, CONVICTION and LOVE.
Nineteen Years of prolonged but persistent combat against Tyranny and Anarchy in Banjul, more than half of my human life. Yet, there are people who from day one, stood up against Jammeh and his armed bandits (even before the selfish, vicious civilian cronies jumped to hug him) who hijacked our society and nation, and the same people stayed staunched and determined today than ever in their pursuit of restoring democracy, justice and decency in our homeland. They forfeited a lot they could have enjoyed as Gambians. They have invested human and material resources in this fight but never looked back a day, to quantify what they had given up. They assumed them to be sunk costs. To them, I say THANK YOU! You all spur us on.
May 17-19, 2013, is, and should be significant. The Raleigh Summit is very timely – not overdue. I am aware that there had been meetings, marches and demonstrations by Gambians all over the world to condemn and denounce Jammeh and his brutal regime in the past, and I am not going to even attempt taking away anything from them. Those gatherings gave birth to the waves of resistance we are seeing in the social media and the sporadic individual resistances and disobedience to Jammeh and his system, under his nose. What makes the North Carolina event different is the PROACTIVE dimension and intent, for most of OUR moves in the past were mostly REACTIONARY. Not to say that is any bad, for they have been effective especially lately. But I am excited by the thoughtfulness of a very active people in the struggle who birthed a very promising belief that we cannot be waiting for Jammeh to always act in a daring fashion for us to sprint. That means he is dictating the show. That means he has absolute advantage over us and his irrational (mis)behavior becomes stimulants for our hidden capabilities.
So irrespective of the number of attendees (and I hope we have our highest record turnout), this would be a representation of ‘willing Gambians’ who want to see meaningful political change in Banjul. And personally, I throw my weight of support and trust behind them to discuss and do what they deem to be in best interest our Country. In gatherings of this nature, there are always going to disagreements; both in principle and in action. That is very normal. That is the beauty of what we are trying to bring to the Gambia – Democracy. Variances in opinion are healthy, as long as they are genuine and could necessitate copious and profitable discourses. Things become awry when people build resistance to inviting foreign perspectives that would give an alternative to the beliefs and positions they hold.
Talking to a friend of mine last night who asked if I would be going to the Summit, I was left disappointed and hurt when I answered him and posed the same question to him. He said “Heck No. Bro I have to be able to go back to the Gambia. Having your face out there is a huge risk that one takes, knowing we still have no idea when Jammeh is leaving. Besides, you guys keep fighting within yourselves. Sort that one out first”. As angry and disappointed as I was, I was able to bridle them for I had some choice words that I almost sent his way but I exercised restraint. I know he is not alone. We have scores of Gambians feeling the same way. That is why we have a silent majority in Country where the blatant disregard for rule of law and human life is accelerating. But whether that is a weak excused-reasoning or not, is up to opinions. I am not the one to dismiss them, for some of their fears are genuine. But it takes selflessness and patriotism (a world I don’t love to use because of what it means in Banjul) to fight for country.
Speaking/standing up against injustice and repression in any way possible is a constitutional and human responsibility we have as a people. Hon. B.B Dabo said it better. If our wants to be able safely go in and out of the Gambia is what we see today, at the pace that things are going in our country, if we do not do anything to immediately reprove it, there may come a time that we wouldn’t even be able head home. So think about that.
On the ‘perceived’ infighting, we have to understand that it is natural. We have to understand that some of what we thought to be divisions are in fact the boiling passion that we all have to attain the same outcome. Our MODs to get to the ‘promise land’ are what’s different thus illuminating and magnifying our ‘differences’. To take consolation from successful fights in the history of struggles against injustice, The Civil Rights Movements in the United States had to go through their bumpy roads. So did the South African Freedom Fighters against Apartheid. Brother Malcolm X and Rev Martin Luther had their clear differences and both camps on many occasions, took jabs at each other. They had differences in ideology and tactics – Necessitated Self-Defense or Non-Violence. And in South African, African National Congress (ANC) had internal fall-outs that led to the formation of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), a group that would later lead one of the most violent demonstrations that had 69 people killed in Sharpeville. But what was undeniable in these situations was their common desire to effect changes by defeating oppression, repression, segregation and Injustice. So we are not any different.
I am hopeful, that the London Conference on May 11 and the Raleigh Summit, would lead to a more viable, pragmatic and functional boulevard to coordinating our efforts that would earn us a neat and cohesively married household. A household of less disintegrated voices that would be effective and results-oriented. I pray that sanity and understanding prevail in your honest discourses and/or deliberations to ensure conclusiveness in tangible outlines to end two decades of a doddering, impotent and autocratic regime in the Land of Our Fathers – The Gambia.