“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell
Historical revisionism is the act of deliberate distortion of historical fact and evidence for political, social and cultural purposes.
The old Soviet Union and present-day North Korea, an ally of The Gambia, may have perfected the art but the Gambian dictator is attempting at refining it in the most brazen and blatantly inept way that characterizes the dictatorship.
To understand the reason for Jammeh’s revisionist activism, you must understand his personality and his Cassamance background. Jammeh has a personality problem emanating from a troubled past that weighs heavily on him – an issue confirmed by his military trainers and colleagues in the military police.
He feels rejected by Gambians because of his origins and his tribal affiliation. He also has a deep-rooted feeling that because of his humble beginnings and an unaccomplished career both as a student and a military police, as some might put it; Gambians have little respect for him despite being the political leader of the country. These feelings appear to be deep-rooted based on past public utterances and insinuations.
Admittedly, Jammeh has every right to feel the way he does about Gambians because it is through vote rigging that he managed to ensure his re-election on three separate occasions. Without stuffing the ballot, Jammeh knows he cannot win a free, fair and transparent election despite his 20-year record in office and his claim that he has brought “infrastructural development” to the country. For that, he holds Gambians in contempt because of “their ungratefulness” as he once described residents of Banjul when they decided to elect a native Banjulian Mayor of the capital city.
The 50th Anniversary of Gambia’s independence provided the occasion for the dictatorship to rewrite Gambia’s history. But something happened last 30th December that cemented Jammeh’s conviction that Gambians will do anything and everything to dislodge him from a position he has convinced himself to earn meritoriously. Because the State House attack primarily was organized from abroad, and the fact that it nearly succeeded causing many deaths on both sides, his vulnerability has made him more paranoid and highly dangerous. Jammeh is looking for revenge. As a source in Banjul told me recently, ‘this is war’.
The war Jammeh is waging is two-pronged. He is maiming, jailing, torturing and exiling as many of his real and imagined enemies as his notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) can “process”, to borrow a term used by a former NIA agent which suggests an assembly line approach to human brutality.
On the other flank, Jammeh is engaged in revising Gambian history by embellishing the history of a country he admits he lacks the knowledge of its rich history. He blames the school curricula for not teaching Gambian history. He has a point there. But for someone who has been president for 20 years, Jammeh should have exerted individual effort to read the history of The Gambia he heads – typical Jammeh; he will blame everyone but himself.
British colonial history has not been spared in Jammeh’s revisionism, all 400 years of it leaving only one high school, which perhaps is the reason for Gambia’s economic backwardness. It is also the failure of democracy – a British import – that brought nothing but misery, mayhem and disorder to The Gambian people resulting in further underdevelopment.
The renaming of the Sayerr Jobe Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the biggest urban area in The Gambia, to Yankuba Colley Highway is part of the assault on Gambia’s history. Sayerr Jobe, the founder of Serre Kunda village in the early part of the last century, is a highly revered historical figure in Gambian history. To exchange his name for the Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, a primary school drop-out who was dismissed from the police force and ended up as watchman at a local bus depot, is a slap in the face of not only the Jobe family of Serre Kunda but to Gambians at large.
It is feared that other major thoroughfares and other landmarks currently bearing the names of historical figures are targeted for renaming. Like Yankuba Colley whose only qualification for being so honoured is he is Mayor of KMC with a highly deplorable record, others who will be honoured later will not be any more deserving than the primary school drop-out and former watchman.
The revisionism exercise continues under the direction of a deeply distraught and confused leader who admitted to a startling audience that it was only recently that he discovered who Edward Francis Small was – a Gambian trade unionist and politician who many consider to be the Father of Gambia’s Independence Movement.
Source: SIDI SANNEH’S BLOG