CUTTING THE BRANCHES BEFORE BRINGING DOWN THE TREE

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Sulayman Jeng

Sulayman Jeng

CHOPPING DOWN A 20 YEAR OLD TREE

CHOPPING DOWN A 20 YEAR OLD TREE

“This ‘struggle’ needs a rethink and a new direction, but the egos are too big for our own good and the interests are too multifaceted”, charged Bax as he reacts to comments on Ebrima G Sankareh’s article captioned “Amadou Samba Saga a Gambian predicament” on kaironews.com. In his opinion, anyone who opposes President Jammeh becomes a hero regardless the person’s history and anyone who chooses to manifest the slightest association with Jammeh despites the person’s history becomes a prey for the Gambian nonconformists. A very interesting deduction. Let us be reminded as humans, sometimes our opinions about others, ideas, issues and incidents are often shaped by our personal beliefs, upbringing, education and experiences. As a result, we take sides here and there. Similarly, we tend to be more sympathetic to people and things we are more familiar than otherwise as aptly captured in a Mandinka maxim: Mbalafa mbe loo ngo lebala.

Nonetheless, to objectively dispense justice, one is always admonished to step outside the box and look at it holistically without any opinionated premise. I intend to, in my attempt to cut the branches before bringing down the tree, to step outside the box. However, if I am found wanton at the end, just excuse my human err and remember is human to err.

Is it President Jammeh who is on the wrong side of history or the Gambian nonconformists in the diaspora? On the one hand, many who perceived Jammeh as a charismatic leader will hasten to affirm, he is not. They, often justify President Jammeh’s good leadership with the building of roads, schools, hospitals, the university, airport and his extravagance/generosity. The Gambian dissidents in the diaspora are the enemies of Gambia because they tarnish the image of the country to the outside world.  On the other hand, “the struggle” without a second thought concludes President Jammeh is a non-starter and epitomises evil. What are their reasons for wanting Jammeh go at all cost? His human rights records, muzzling the freedom of speech, poor economic policies, heavy handedness, corruption and political thuggery.

In development, before it becomes meaningful and sustainable, first it must be what the grassroots want. For instance, if you go to Kanilai and want to bring development to their doorsteps, you must first identify their urgent need, example, a day care centre, horticultural garden, market or health centre. However, if you believed that you are the expert and knows what they want without even consulting them, you will end up giving them a white elephant. Who financed the roads, hospitals and etc supervised by Jammeh and his government? The Gambian tax payers. Albeit others will argue the projects of all these developments were already initiated by the Jawara regime, but the credit goes to Jammeh and his government for implementing them. Have Gambians become better off in their living standard, access to employment and freedom under President Jammeh? Is building hospitals and roads a seal of approval for the Jammeh regime to unlawfully arrest and detain Gambians at will without been charged for more than 72 hour stipulated law? Are many Gambians still not languishing in detention without trial under Jammeh’s leadership?

Prior to 22nd July 1994, Yahya Jammeh was never a headline in the Gambia. Today he occupies the highest office in the country. Consequently, he is more a public figure than a private person. Thus, his every action attracts attention, analysis and reaction. “Ku mbu gutt hatch yee bowla, bull butt burki”. Is there any Gambian who wants his or her father, brother, mother or sister to disappear in the middle of the night without trace? Does any of us wants to be locked up and tortured for not committing a crime? I guess not but these are the things happening in the Gambia under the orders and watch of President Jammeh. Does standing up and speaking out against such injustices makes one a bad citizen and enemy of progress? Come on brothers and sisters, no one hates Yahya Jammeh as a person but his deeds are nauseating, inhuman and appalling. How many times has President Jammeh openly threatens members of his cabinet with imprisonment if they dare fail to execute his orders? Perhaps you may find that amusing but certainly I do not see the funny side of it.

There are many Gambians working for the government under Jammeh and no one hassles them. They do not constantly fear that they will be lynched like Amadou Samba experienced. If any Gambian openly supports and justifies the atrocities taking place in a daily basis in the Gambia must sure be alert that he or she will go down with Jammeh and those who attempt to run will be hunted down and brought to answer for their deeds. Has Boto of Boto Construction or Tapha Njie of Taf Construction been ever harassed or ruffled like Amadou Samba? Let us not fool ourselves fellow Gambians. If President Jammeh was really synonymous to progress our youths will not risk their lives across the turbulent Atlantic Ocean in search of greener pastures in Europe. Joining the struggle will not wash away blood in anyone’s hands once they are soaked. When the day of reckoning arises, each will be accountable for your own contribution in enabling the dictatorship however small it may be. Even if the commissions will not punish the person but Gambians would want to know how, why, what, when and where you have enabled Jammeh. If Allah had not allowed us to repent after sinning, we would all rot in hell. Repentance accords a person a fresh start. Those who show remorse will certainly be forgiven as the South Africans have manifested in their reconciliation effort. But Jammeh feels he has not wronged any of us but we wronged him instead. Very funny. Was I biased?

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK


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