Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

THREE DIED AT CELEBRATION. WAS IT A SECURITY MEASURED BLUNDER?

February 19, 2017

The musical jamboree of Gambia @52 two in one celebration dotted by match pass of the security forces, school children and civil societies submerged Gambians into a euphoric trance of reassuring peace, tranquillity, contentment and hopefulness.  Conversely, beneath all that glittering fanfare lays three deaths and dozens wounded as a result of gross security negligence and police inaptitude at the stadium. Dependable reports emanating from Banjul confirmed the three deaths and dozens wounded gracing Gambia @52 nationhood celebration.

An eye-witness who had a gold invitation card observed, “On arrival at the stadium, I saw a huge crowd of people and few paras at the gate. Some diplomats were even struggling with civilians to enter the stadium. At first I thought is this some kind of a security sabotage? My card was useless as I have to squeeze my way in.”

Another witness also lamented, “People were jumping from the pavilion as it was packed full and no access route to go for refreshment in the loo or outside. The presence of the paras were painfully dispersed. Some other youths were likewise seated at the top of the areal on the left-hand side of the covered pavilion. That was a serious security risk and a potential accident waiting to happen”.

As a former security officer who partook in several parades, crowd control and management, I was socked with the news of such security lapse. A contingent plan must have been drawn by the Commissioner of Operations to curb any contingency of huge crowd turn out. Standby and backup platoons must have been readied to support units deployed to control and manage the crowd at the stadium. President Barrow has pulled unprecedented crowds in the past and will continue to do so in many more occasions. So for the Commissioner of Operation to fail to provide adequate security personnel to manage and control the crowd at Gambia @52 two in one celebration is a gross neglect of duty and ineptitude.

The Hon Minister of Interior must investigate this gross security lapse and ineptitude of the police. President Barrow and his rainbow cabinet will not succeed if their efforts are continually thwarted by the security services. The SIS has also failed in letting a pocket of demonstrators slip into the stadium and manifest in the presence of all the delegates and diplomats at stadium. It is their constitutional rights to dissent but there should be a time and place for it. One of those demonstrators could have cause harm to the person of the president or any of the state guests. The space of change is slow and painful.

Another diaspora Gambian who travelled to witness the celebration revealed, “The only notable change is the executive and the cabinet. Other than that, everything remains unchanged”. Many believed that most of the security chiefs and heads of units are still loyal to Jammeh. “The success of the celebration is purely due the civilians love and loyalty to Barrow. They did not want anything to rob them of the joy of celebrating”, added another.

“Barrow has lofty dreams and great intention for the Gambia but his efforts will be continually thwarted by bad elements within the security services”, lamented one youth.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

PRESIDENT BARROW: THE CHOSEN ONE

February 19, 2017

BARROW-THE CHOSEN ONE

Conferred cosmetic recognitions received on a silver platter do not radiate the pride that successes achieved through sweat, tears and blood reflect. In a nutshell, one tends to value and cherish things that one has toiled hard for more than those received from the hand of fortune. The same can be said of a freedom achieved on a silver platter and that fought for tooth and nail. That precisely explains why those who fought to achieve their freedom will go to any length to preserve and protect it at all cost as opposed to those who inherit it. Some argue the “struggle” against dictatorship is successfully achieved thus closing its chapter. Others, on the contrary, maintain a beginning of a new beginning has just began with the advent of new Gambia. What I saw and heard President Barrow said yesterday swept me off my feet. As a consequent, I will endeavour to check my emotion less it garbs my judgement as I take a reflective tour in my mind’s eyes on new Gambia’s chosen one and his rainbow government.

“President Adama Barrow”, Facuru Sillah observed, “is a lovable and pleasant personality. He’s trustworthy and trusts in God. Entrusting him with the affairs of the Gambia is the best thing we have done for ourselves”. Sillah augmented, “His personality has pulled unprecedented crowds in Gambian history. We thought he could never pull a crowd like he did on his nomination day. We thought he would never get a crowd like the one he had on his return from the provincial campaign to the Greater Banjul Area. We thought the crowd celebrating his victory on 2nd Dec was the biggest ever. We thought the crowd that greeted him on his return from Dakar was overwhelming. We thought the crowds of his inauguration cum Independence Day February 18, 2017 was the most superlative. He will keep on breaking the limits of our expectations of public approval of his personality as head of state”. Facuru summed, “The man is just wonderful”. Indeed, President Barrow keeps his resolve and possesses a starling character guide by conscience.

However, what worries me most is how some custodians of society and governance carry themselves in this crucial time of our hard earned freedom and democracy. Yes, we may differ in our political view and alignment but the Gambia is one and we jointly own it. Its growth, security and fortification are not the responsibility of only President Barrow and his rainbow cabinet. Whether one supports him or opposes him, the safety and wellbeing of the Gambia is the responsibility of all of us. Let us put our differences aside and put the Gambia first. The way he intents to steer the nation if not derailed, it will sail to shores of sustainable development and equal opportunity for all Gambians. Respectable leaders of society who were nerve-rackingly robbed of their respect and unable to speak out the truth openly for fear of Jammeh’s impulsive retaliation have been given back their pride and freedom by Barrow. True some of us are here trying to put across the veracities and options available for us all to nurture and preserve our freedom and resuscitate our democracy to sail new Gambia to safer political and economic shores. It is also a sad fact that there are others who are hell bent to see that some of us disappear beneath the waves of cowardice. Such people even though are alert to the fact that their chosen route does not lead to any good yet they adamantly bury their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich for the preservation of their own personal selfish gains. Such people do not care if our freedom and democracy is compromised as long as their interests are protected they are fit to go. To such people I say gone are the days when political bullies submerge the voices of reason.

For us to succeed in our effort in entrenching democracy, the rule of law and economic development, we need to address the factors and by-products which created Jammeh to avert moulding Barrow in the same stature. Yahya Jammeh was not a result of a coincidental accident but a product of our own making and nurturing. How did we create Yahya Jammeh? To answer such a question of fundamental importance, one needs to take into account a numbers of factors which in a nutshell sums up a Gambian: spiritual belief, “maslaaha”, greed, selfishness, tribalism and false hope.

Generally, every Gambian has a religion: Islam or Christianity. To assert that both faiths denounced black magic in the strongest term would be an understatement. Interestingly, spiritual belief especially marabous is a bedrock on which many Gambians wholly depend on for their livelihood such that many descended into associating partners with Allah. Black magic according to Islamic teaching, originated during the reign of Prophet Sulayman (AWS) when two angels were giving the knowledge as a trial. It is important to highlight that these angels made it categorically clear that they were only for a trial and anyone who learns and practice it will have nothing in the day of resurrection. Despite all the warning by the two angels and the Quran, many Gambians still heavily rely on marabous for every aspect of their lives. For instance, if one is travelling or seeking a job, one often visits a marabou for spiritual counselling and advice. Such marabous who are often well versed in the Quran and living in makeshift status give you unrealistic advice for all the wrong reasons. Let us say for argument sake, that they are good at what they do. Some will solicit the help of the marabou to get rich or a certain job. If the marabou can make you rich or get you a job why is he not rich himself or having the best job in the country? Or doesn’t he want to be rich or his children being ministers or even a president? These marabous are one of our biggest problems today. They equally abet in planting the seed of discord in families as they will tell you, for example, that your Uncle is hell bent in destroying you. They also meddle in politics. Fellow Gambians how can something so wrong feel so right? What can a marabou give you that has not been destined for you by Allah? Can any marabou add or subtract a second in your life?

“Maslaaha” which literary means compromise is another stumbling block in our fight against corruption, injustice and political malfunctions. There is nothing so cruel and unjust than giving up on something that is right and worth fighting for. Justice is usually sacrificed on the altar of “maslaaha” in the Gambia. For instance, one would see a crime committed in the open but for some reason I find absolute hard to understand is covered under the duvet of “maslaaha”. Public servants, security officers and ordinary citizens all get away with crimes against the state as well as other fellow citizens under the auspices of so called “maslaaha”. This is precisely why Yahya Jammeh abducted innocent Gambians and detained them for unbearable long periods only for his council of evil elders dressed in the devil’s parada set in motion the wheels of “maslaaha” between tyrant Jammeh and his victims of captivity. Eventually, the victims became criminals and Jammeh the victim.

Another factor which created Yahya Jammeh is greed. Very few Gambians are content with what they have and the life they live. Many of us are so obsessed with material gains particularly financial wealth that we are prepared to trade our self-esteem and integrity for few bututs. To make matters worse, some of us entrusted with public responsibility steal from the state to enrich ourselves. Consequently, it is quite common to hear public officials opining that “a person have to survive where he or she works”. In other words, it decriminalised corruption and bribery at work. This explains how church mouse Jammeh who was not worth ten (10) dalasi before he became president is now richer than the Gambian government and all its assets combined. It is also an impediment for us to address issues objectively. Religious leaders who are expected to be telling our leaders the truth and guide them back on track if they stray choose to fill their pockets instead. Everyone wants to be seen driving the lasted car, living in the most expensive mansion and wearing designer cloths yet we don’t want to earn our wealth the right way. What does this make us fellow Gambians? We are so blinded by the get rich quick syndrome that we negate our duty to state and country.  Corrupt and brutal leaders like Jammeh will easily slip our attention as we are consumed by the self-eating desire to amass as much wealth from the state as we could. Corruption and bribery become the order of the day and anyone who challenges the status quo becomes the bad one.

Selfishness is the cousin of greed and they work hand in glove. This is where one comes first above anything else. Even though one is employed by the state to run its affairs, one side steps the state interest in pursuant of one’s own goals.  As one hastily pursues one’s personal goal, the state’s interest is trampled upon with amazing pride. Jammeh was a clear manifestation of this Gambian phenomenon. Instead of running the affairs of the state as he was sworn to do, busied himself in running his personal enterprises. The wellbeing of all was sacrifice for personal development. No one takes a minute to say hold on a second; the Gambia is larger than oneself. Sadly, the job that should have been done by everyone is left for someone else to do which at the end is done by no one leaving state institutions to wallow in decadence.

As a result, we must help President Barrow by keeping him busy and on check constantly. If we finally decide, may Allah forbid, dining with the piper we must then be prepared to pay for the tune.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

GIVING DEMOCRACY A CHANCE: AT WHAT PRICE?

February 16, 2017

President Adama Barrow

The Barrow rainbow government has continued to enjoy an overwhelming support from most Gambians and friends of the Gambia since its inception. Due to the precarious political ambience and defective socio-economic institutions it inherited from the dictatorship, many are opinionated it is prudence to give President Barrow and his government a chance to pick up and fix the broken pieces. Equitably, rejuvenating democracy from the ashes of brutal dictatorship is herculean but a snail-space response to the excruciating cries of victims peppers insensitivity and inaptitude. Perhaps Mathew Jallow was mirroring my thoughts when he dissented: “Sacrificing justice for the convenience of those who deserve neither peace nor liberty will never heal the wounds of injustice, death, torture and incarceration. In the end, it is the pain of injustice that will remain to agonize victims of naked injustice”. Wining and dining with felons who unapologetically decapitated justice, abetted in heinous atrocious tantamount to an insult to victims of Yaya Jammeh’s twenty-two years or carnage. The move is insensitive, immoral and completely bang out of order”, fulminated Ahmed Manjang when he saw a photo of President Barrow and Isatou Njie-Saidy on the social media. He went on to advocate, We cannot allow political correctness to derail our revolution”.  Like him, many- who were left with mouths agape at the sight of President Barrow’s cabinet unperturbedly settled across from one another with Jammeh’s partners in crime in the name of peaceful transition and handing over- wondered “Who is advising President Barrow?”

Lamentably, it is the same malaise of patronage, massaging the truth, averting eyes and matching on as if all is hunky dory in the face of gross executive omission which created Monster Jammeh that is now bestowed on President Barrow and his rainbow government. The outrage generated by this impulsive move amongst Gambians particularly in the diaspora is indicative of Gambians refusing to be taken for granted by their elected representatives and public servants any more. Most importantly, Barrow must come to terms with the fact that he isn’t a Facebook President but a President of a nation recovering from 22 years of brutal dictatorship. The whole handing over process could have been done on one to one base but having the President presiding over it with such publicity stunt beats every reasonable Gambian. What was even more insulting was the audacity Isatou Njie-Saidy mounted in arrogantly relegating the political impasse which saw thousands of Gambians fleeing the country as “a little problem”. Albeit no bullet was fired, the political impasse’s ramifications left indelible imprints on most Gambians in the forms of economic lost, mental and psychological trauma. The only Gambian segment which remained unaffected was Jammeh and his loyalists such as Isatou Njie-Saidy.

Law of nature instils from whom much is given, much will be required. Lives and properties have been lost. And it took sweats, tears and blood to desk you on the Presidential chair. Consequently, any act by you and/or your rainbow government must be aligned with the interest, feelings and demands of Gambians particularly those who lost their all to get you where you are today. Time is now for us to confront the elephant in our closet. President Barrow came across to me during and after the December 2016 election as a man who can hold the broken nation together by massaging the sore wounds, fixing the fractured bones and healing the lacerated hearts but it appears he is yet put his house in order. Power and fame are the worst forms of addictive intoxicants, once you get addicted, it becomes impossible to be rehabilitated.

Jammeh failed abysmally because he refused to be engaged in charting clear and constructive route for democracy and sustainable development. He became drunk with the unprecedented love showered on him. Eventually, he became insensitive to Gambians needs, cries and demands. Anyone who attempted to reason with him was anointed “an enemy of progress”, “bad citizens” and “cockroaches”. Ultimately, he could not accept his era reached its end due to power and fame addiction. Unlike Jammeh, President Barrow has all the means at his disposal to deliver the Gambia where we all want her to be. However, that can only be attained by him being more accountable, transparent and sensitive to Gambians’ feelings. Unchecked spending leads to flamboyancy. Insensitivity breeds dictatorship. Please Mr President don’t disappoint.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

STATE BUILDING UNDER A YOUNG DEMOCRACY

February 14, 2017

A Gambia has decided billboard

Albeit Gambians have democratically butted a brutal Dictatorship out of office through the ballot and rejuvenated democracy, the country is still desk on a thin brink of derailing into mere regime change and docking on a democratic port. Prior to formation of the 2016 Coalition, many Gambians, particularly in the diaspora, were opinionated that Dictatorship is never voted out of office but chased out and the Kanilai Monster will not be an exception. Their argument was and I reference,“In a democracy, it is absolutely normal for people to vote because elections are free and fair and their vote counts. Far from being a democracy, Gambia is in reality a Dictatorship, in a Dictatorship your vote does not count, then what is the logic behind heading to the polls knowing that there is no way a Dictator can be ejected out of office through the system of voting by the ballot”. Fortunately, Gambians have rendered this premise fallacious on 2nd December 2016.

Dashingly, there is a glimpse of hope for new Gambia to blossom into a city state democratic nation. Hope, therefore, is one powerful energizer that strengthens the heart and enlivens the spirit which propels the will to match on head high when everything else suggests otherwise. It is this hope that Barrack Obama may have alluded to when he posited  “…not blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I am not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us just to sit on the side-lines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is the stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.” Significantly, it is with this hope that something better awaits us with the dawn of the rainbow government led by President Barrow that we must tenaciously initiate a process of self-change and enlightenment to build a democratic state which resonates ideals of equal opportunity, freedom, justice, rule of law and a developed nation-state.

Desolately, some Pan-Africanists of the pre-independence era were convinced for any country to develop, be independent and democratic, the state must groom its nation in accordance with its ideals. Similarly, most post independent leaders tried and tested the notion of their pre-independent compatriots. The result is sculptured by Dr Baba G Jallow as thus:  “Since the African state sees itself as a builder of nations but often turns out to be a breaker of nations, we need to revisit the idea of nation-building with a view to exposing its contradictions and replacing it with the idea of state-building. Exploring the concept of nation-building will allow us to put the relationship between us and our governments in proper perspective. Empirical historical evidence shows that the most successful nation-states in the world are those in which the nation (the people) builds the kind of state (government) they want. In countries where the state arrogates to itself the power and status of nation-builder, authoritarianism and a culture of repression is often the inevitable outcome because the people are rendered progressively passive and powerless in determining their own national destinies”.

Consequently, whether one supports or against President Barrow, the fact remains indisputable that for new Gambia to nurture and sustain her new found freedom and democracy, as an appetiser, every Gambian must seek political awareness and in-depth knowledge of the constitution.  Here again I will recollect Alieu Darboe’s thesis, “… a lot going around are actually aspersions inspired by misinformation and lack of knowledge. Now, if you want to offer useful criticism, try to learn more about how government works and seek credible information”. There is a battery of evidences to substantiate Mr Darboe’s inference. Many of new Gambia’s political cheerleaders hasten to crucify President Barrow and his rainbow government with limited or no knowledge of government nitty gritty and thorough comprehension of the constitution. They, often justify President Barrow’s omission with unsubstantiated conjectures. Conversely, Dr Baba G Jallow further accentuates, “In the New Gambia, we must aspire to a politics of state-building not a politics of nation-building. We must aspire to a politics in which the people are politically enlightened and empowered enough to hold their government accountable, not a politics in which an all-knowing state is perched on top of the social pyramid prescribing and forcing infallible prescriptions for development down the people’s throats, whether they like it or not. We must aspire to a politics in which the people are empowered enough to build the kind of state they want, not a politics in which the state assumes the status of all-powerful nation-builder, unless such nation-building means people-building in the sense we use the term above. By definition, the state is embedded within the nation and cannot therefore rise over and above the nation. For this reason, we require and must aspire to a political leadership that is sincere, a leadership that is disciplined, a leadership that will be eager to teach but also eager to learn and to drink of the public wisdom; a leadership that will not behave like the infallible and hostile lords and masters of the people, but like the humble servants and children of the nation. The kind of intellectual and moral energy that needs to be expended in order to actualize such a politics can only be generated in an environment of healthy civility and mutual respect between and among all members of society, regardless of age, gender, political, economic or religious status or affiliation”.

Therefore, it is legitimate to aver for a nation to be empowered and hold its state accountable, it must first be politically enlightened. It is not blasphemous to punctuate no state can repress an enlightened nation. For instance, Trump’s obnoxious immigration and refugee ban would have survive if America was an ignorant nation. Fear, in most illustrations, stems from ignorance. Precisely why Steve Biko concluded “The most sophisticated weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”.  The social media is one platform in which Gambians can politically educate and empower one another by discussing, debating and sharing credible information. Civil societies and pressure groups must also initiate programmes on civic education. Furthermore, the school curriculum must include lessons on the constitution at all levels. Those endowed with knowledge and skills of translating the constitution in various local languages, can do so in audio form and distribute for the consumption of the unlettered generation.  Seedia Jatta has done a tremendous job in his constituency, Wuli. Today, his constituency is the only one in the whole country which is self-reliance from local and central government. They vote for policies and programmes but not personality and/or wealth. With the right government blueprint, discipline political leadership, and enlightened people, the Gambia can soon become the Dubai of Africa.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

NEW GAMBIA: COUNTING THE COST OF FREEDOM

February 1, 2017

President Adama Barrow 

It was refreshing to hear President Barrow divulge, “Every morning when we wake up, the first thing we do is ask one another what did the diaspora Gambians say today?” Succinctly, one can deduce without an embellishment that President Barrow listens to Gambians and aligns his decisions with Gambian wishes that will usher in sustainable progress, peace, stability and equal opportunity for all. Understandably, the perfectionists want to crucify him for his perfect imperfections. Perhaps like most of us who refused to use rose-tinted glass in holding President Barrow to task, they also wish the Gambia well. However, we must be realistic in our demands. Alieu Darboe, a colleague at University, aptly reinforced my point when he argued, As a critical person, I know constructive criticism when I see it, but a lot going around are actually aspersions inspired by misinformation and lack of knowledge. Now, if you want to offer useful criticism, try to learn more about how government works and seek credible information. Barrow will not agree with all Gambians, and so I hope you will respect his right to disagree with you and your suggestions. Certainly, he must and will listen to dissenting voices, but in a democracy, he is free to exercise his powers within the law, and not to be compelled to follow any particular views”.

It is equally fitting to assert constructive criticisms must be predicated on credible information, knowledge and experience. As humans, we differ in many aspects ranging from beliefs, aspirations, commitment, love and political views. Consequently, even whereby we share most of these in common, now and again we part ways in certain views and opinions. Thus, to expect President Barrow and/or his government to meet the demand of every Gambian is a preposterous wishful thinking. For instance, many Gambians want and called for the disbandment of the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) due to its disgraceful orchestration of damning tortures, unlawful incarcerations and killings. President Barrow has not only listened to this legitimate call but took the initiative of renaming it. Albeit, the Agency wears a chilling historical badge of terror, it is not just any ordinary institution that can be discarded and forgotten for good. Its role and function are of paramount importance to national security. What transpired during the Jammeh era was its role and function overlapped with that of the police such that it was operating as another arm of the police. They had power to arrest and detain but not prosecute. Its leadership became insensitive to justice, law and order. In the process, they epitomised evil and executed unforetold carnage.  What is legitimate to demand, therefore, is a systematic overhaul of its leadership, redefining its role and function and adequate retraining of its agents. Added to that would be commissioning a parliamentary committee that would be tasked which the responsibility of policing it. That way, abuse of office and misappropriation of justice will be curbed.

On the ministerial position, the constitution is very clear on it. Here again the discourse is diverged. Mathew Jallow abdicated being the proverbial ostrich when he deliberated “It is hard to qualify the degree of shock I experienced upon reading about the exclusion of Gambians of dual citizenship from cabinet positions”. Mr Jallow went on to argue, “The nature of this politically motivated exclusion of bone-fide professional Gambian citizens from holding cabinet level jobs and participating in national development is antediluvian old school thinking. It is a mind-set lagging far behind the curve in regards to changing sociological paradigms in an increasingly borderless world. One would think that a constitution drenched in the blood of its citizens and used to exclude citizens from public life in their countries would be rejected as unfit representation of the Gambian people”.  He then admonished, “Modernising the new Gambia must first and foremost be predicated on embracing progressive thought and adapting to the new parameters of global citizenship where barriers limiting access to opportunity are forever discarded to the dustbin of history”. Uncle Mathew’s position is appropriate, however, flipping the coin on the other side, one can correspondingly uphold that it is not only on ministerial position that citizens can participate in national building and contributing their progressive thoughts. Others had also viewed it from the security point. Their case, if for example Uncle Mathew is appoint Minister of Finance and helped himself with some few dalasi and runs to America whose citizenship he also holds, how will the prosecute him when American laws protects him from extradition to the Gambian to face justice?

APRC. Yes, what about them? Some want to see it banned. President Barrow has no legitimate power to ban it just because it was the party in power. Political parties and a constitution can only be ban and/or suspended under a military takeover. Now it has become an opposition. It is now left to the Gambian electorate to either vote it back to office or relegate it to a very insignificant opposition party. Its winning an election in the Gambia is not happening in the foreseeable future due to the legacy of it former leader. Jammeh’s ripple effect has and will continue to hunt it for a very long time in the Gambian political ring. As such, banning it will only give it undue credit. In fact what is currently unfolding is most of its supporters are now aligning their allegiance with GDC, UDP and the other parties. Eventually, it would either rename itself, change its leadership or ebbs significantly to a bare minimal relevance.

The National Assembly Members will not bow to the heat of pressure oozed by the protesting youths calling for their resignation. They are elected and I am not aware of any constitutional clause which empowers a constituency to recall its NAM found wanton. What the youth should be engaged in now to mount rigorous political sensitisation across the length and breadth of the country to elect qualified and responsible NAMS. Few months down the line, we will go again to the poll electing our representatives. This time around, we don’t want to clutter the National assembly with unseasoned members. It was awesome you went out and registered your dissatisfaction and disappointment in executing their duties but you can stop history repeating itself by enlightening your communities on electing members on qualification and programmes but not on partisan or personal reasons.

Bringing Jammeh and his cronies to book is not only President Barrow and his government’s responsibility. The onus equivalently lies on us as ordinary citizens. President Barrow is on record repeatedly affirming he will not prosecute Jammeh which was part of the pack for him to step down peacefully. President Barrow must honour his words. It is not justice. The UN regional representative urged President Barrow “if the Gambian people want to crucify Jammeh, let them”. We have seen some of them already arrested in some distant lands. Consequently, it is now up to us to petition the Barrow government to start the process of bringing Jammeh and his cronies to book.

Time. It is liken to the flow of a river. The flow that passes you will never come back. Time is wealth, hence, must be managed properly. If the president is not conscious of time, he will be sending the wrong signal to his staff and people. 15:00 hours is 15:00 hours period. I hope President Barrow will take note of this when he gives an appointment next time. Gorr kadom.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

GAMBIA: “#ALLAH SWT HAS DECIDED, #GAMBIANS HAVE FOLLOWED”

January 28, 2017

Author: Jainaba Bah, Sweden

By Jainaba Bah 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful ALLAH Subhanahu Wa Ta’Aala Is:

“The Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it : ‘Be!’ — and it is” [al-Baqarah 2:117]

‘Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” — and it is!’ [Ya-Seen 36:82].”

“When He has decreed something, He says to it only: ‘Be!’ — and it is” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:47]

“It is He Who gives life and causes death. And when He decides upon a thing He says to it only: ‘Be’ — and it is” [Ghaafir 40:68]

“And Our Commandment is but one as the twinkling of an eye” [al-Qamar 54:50]

ALLAH, SWT, May HE Be Exalted, Has Limitless Power, Absolute Power, Ultimate Control Of All Affairs And Perfect Will! If HE wills something, it happens as HE wills it at the time when HE wills it, and in the manner that HE wills!

Dhū-l-Jalāli wa-l-Ikrām! (Lord of Majesty and Generosity, Lord of Glory and Honour!) Though blessings; success, power, wealth, victory may come to us through human hands, we should be conscious of and give praise and honour to the True Source from which all blessings come, The ONE who is the Lord, Possessor and Bestower of Majesty and Bounty.

History has been made and still unfolding in The Gambia, Our Homeland. This beautification of our collective narrative in the realization of our shared aspiration to remove Jammeh from power and restore democracy in our beloved country has made a mark in contemporary African history specifically and the world at large. That moment in space and time when we legitimately stood up, found our voices and raised them in unison , demanding an end to Dictatorship of the first order! Ours like many before us became a struggle to overcome fear, to fight for human freedom and dignity; a cause for social justice, a cause of the people.

Jammeh’s defeat at the Dec. polls and his consequent ceding power have provoked an outpouring of celebrations. We are a country yearning for healing, the truth, trust, forgiveness, goodness and optimism;Hope. Despite our size, our Greatness as a country is already manifest. Thanks to ALLAH’s Blessings. our unflinching loyalty to our Motherland made us shed all tribal sentiments and social fetters.We became One Country, One People with One Voice, One Shared Cause: #The Gambia First! In Blessing this Unity Of Purpose, ALLAH SWT made history for us! HE Tabaaraka wa ta’aala made a Special Decree for us and we Succeeded! Yes, acknowledged, we are a favoured people; Gambians!

Thus, I would like to add my voice to that of our Comrade, Son and Brother, Ahmad Gitteh for his recent reflective and inspirational video calling on us all to surrender ourselves to ALLAH, Azza Waa ‘Jal and Thank HIM for what HE SWT has done for us as a Nation, as a People. Ahmad’s comparison of The Gambian ordeal under Jammeh to that of Bani Israel (The children of Prophet Yāˈqub, alaihi salaam ) under Fir’awn resonates well. That in this day and age, with so many wars, so much carnage, death and destruction of lives and properties around the world, Our Beloved Country, The Gambia, came out of a most harrowing dramatic nightmare, unscathed! Not even a hen moved from it’s eggs! SubhanALLAH! It is truly a moment of celebration as it is a time for reflection.

For this gargantuan achievement, We Thank ALLAH, SWT! #ALLAH SWT has Decided!

We must show our gratitude to ALLAH, Tabaara wa ta’aala! That done, we have to embrace, support and cherish our new leaders, remembering they are the chosen ones by Our Lord and Creator to lead our country forward. This does not in any way mean turning a blind eye when they falter, this does not mean hero-worshipping anyone, No, but we should be reminiscent of the past 22 years. Years of murder, incarceration, abductions, rape, pedophilia, humiliation, degradation, lies, treachery, fornication, impunity, arrogance, betrayals, insults, abuse, the rituals, all combined and more resulting in our collective trauma. If we agree that the people are the government and the government the people, we must step forward to help and assist our leaders. Give them good advice and help them grow and be better in their new roles, in this new reality. We have to stop finding faults with the minutest details and stop caricaturing them, embarrassing them and making them look foolish and incompetent! Let us resist the controversies! Please, Brave and Good People; Gambians, for anyone wanting to haul the kitchen sink at them, just pause for a moment, take a deep breath and reflect on Jammeh’s 22 years of misrule! Let us give them genuine critique as a contribution to improving their work and as a demonstration of active interest in the government they are running! Let us help them build and nurture our democratic values! In a nutshell, Let Us Give Them A Chance and Help them Succeed in this very Difficult Process of Political, Economic and Social Transformation!

On Mrs. Fatoumatta Tambajang: I hereby give Her my full endorsement and commend President Barrow for choosing her as Vice President. In our African tradition, age means experience, respect and the ability to make sound judgement. When Mrs. Tambajang was risking life and limb going to Fass Njaga Choi demonstrating her solidarity, nobody protested against it calling on her age as a hindrance or a risk factor. When she joined the forces of progress and in solidarity stood by the United Democratic Party and the Nation in calling for Justice for Solo Sandeng and Solo Kurumah, Justice for Fatoumatta Jawara, Nogoye Njie and Fatou Camara, she was applauded, called a Heroine, a Leader and a Role Model! How can all that change overnight because of a draconian law drawn by a con artist. A fraudster who could not rescue himself from self-destruct by the same laws he unilaterally enacted with the signature of a coerced and corrupted National Assembly. Mrs Fatoumatta Tambajang has always carried Herself with humility, dignity, and above all, Consciousness Of ALLAH, SWT! Gambians, what else do we want? ALLAH SWT has chosen her to fill that seat. Let us be happy for her, make du’ah for her, share good advice with her, wish her success and encourage her to do her utmost!

To The Friends Of The Gambia and To Ecowas/Ecomog : You stood by us when we were in the trenches, giving your support and solidarity, showing your humanity. For Ecowas, you have restored trust and confidence in an almost dismissed unity and force. You have demonstrated Leadership with Tenacity! To The Diaspora: No amount of accolades are enough to describe the feat we all have accomplished; together! From Africa, Europe, North America, Scandinavia we rose in our droves with One Heart-Beat, One Pulse, One Singular Purpose, One Voice. Trusting each other with our hard-earned dollars, euros, crowns, francs and making generous donations with the sole hope of being able to defeat a stubborn dictator and liberate our People. We refuse to simply turn the other way when atrocities were committed in the darkest cells of Mile II Prisons at the ruthless hands of the state machinery of terrorism. We listened and at times wept together whilst sharing horror tales that have befallen our loved ones: sons, brothers, uncles, husband, wives, sisters, daughters, neighbours, colleagues, grandparents, our clergy and respectable religious leaders. We comforted and inspired each other. Gave hope to each other that a better tomorrow is to come.

To The Home-Front and the Coalition Leadership : Indeed, indeed, yes indeed, “Rice is cooked inside a pot and not outside”. It was a tall order and a tough clarion call, but once again, together, ordinary Gambians rose up, unrelenting and became subjects of history. This History is a strong chain and reality never exists in isolation! What an inspiring narrative! A coalition that was born out of selfless sacrifice and true patriotism. Shedding all personal goals aside and answering the call: Country First!

To Our Youths: Be brave to dream big and follow your consciences! You have made us all proud and you have set a beautiful example for the youths of the rest of the world worth emulating!

To the Aprc supporters ~ Welcome to Democracy! Cultivate a critical mind and be open to divergent views! Make an honest self-critique and work with the results you concluded! In conclusion: “It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” ― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight

When all is said and done: #ALLAH SWT Has Decided, #Gambians have followed, #Insha’ALLAH, we shall succeed!

A SOLDIER IN FEAR – MY ENCOUTER

January 25, 2017

A soldier with Saikou Jammeh at statehouse

By Saikou Jammeh

It was, after all, going to be an easy ride to State House. Anyone who doubted this did not see what Yaya Jammeh saw. Senegal-led Ecowas troops arrived at the gates of the palaces after taking command of key military barracks and security installations across the country. The troops started entering the Gambia from multiple border points, combing the streets with armoured vehicles.

The head of the presidential guard, Ansumana Tamba, was nowhere to be found, but his men put up a barricade in what appeared to be a standoff that lasted more than six hours. No guns were fired. Just talks. And about half an hour before midnight, the heavy gates of the presidential palaces were opened. Dozens of soldiers, behind four armoured vehicles, walked in.

In the past twenty-two years, many men had attempted to forcefully enter this fortified palaces to remove Jammeh. The latest and most daring was two years ago. All failed. In the process, many lives were lost.

Now, though, those that were in command are under someone’s command. The foreign troops were received well by the people of Banjul, who poured out in huge numbers to pose for photos, cheer and served them tea and coffee.

For the Gambian soldiers at gates, this was a long evening duty. Visibly defeated and subdued, they were booed by their very own people for not standing up to Jammeh in time of need. Until that day, it’s beyond any stretch of imagination that a day would come when some Gambians would go near gates of the palaces to protest. On this night, some young Gambians unleashed years of anger. The story of two of them was quite sad. Their fathers were soldiers. Both killed. Not in war. By who? They let the soldiers on duty know about it and told them they were coming after them.

From a distance, I saw anger in the eyes of those Gambian solders. I approached one of them for a chat. ‘Here, we want just peace,’ he told me. He asked for my name and I told him. When I asked for his name, he felt unsure whether to tell me his last name. Badjie, he whispered. There was no confidence in his tone. He’s apparently a Jola. I looked at him closely. Then I realised that what I thought to be anger was actually fear.

The Gambia has a new government. New political and economic players are in charge. Generally, the change has brought about joy and huge prospects of better Gambia. But there’s also fear of the unknown, fear of being excluded.

So, when I was bidding farewell to this brother soldier of mine, I shook his hand affectionately and told him, my brother, it will all be okay. In this New Gambia, our surnames won’t matter anymore. Say it aloud, with confidence. I could have been a Jola, I share the same surname with ex-president. I could have been Serer because some of my relatives are. I could have been Mandinka because that’s what my dad and mom told me I am. But I choose to be a Gambian. As a journalist, I know that Gambians voted for the coalition because it represents unity. That’s the spirit of the New Gambia.

He smiled. Thank you, he told me. He was still waiving while I turned to leave. I hope messages and assurances like this are important, moving forward.