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Election ballots
Gambian Election Ballots Boxes

By Yanks Darboe

Sometimes, I wish change would longed for my hopes; as my hopes had longed for change! For change had eluded my hopes many a time! Leaving me with much less hope in hope, that despair creeps into hope! Hope for a future that is in the past! As if clocks go back more than an hour in the October United Kingdom, to a time in memorial! Way back to more than 30 years. A time of my growing up, as a young man, in somewhere Gambia.

For the bleakness of the present Gambia, casts much dark dirt over the future ahead. That a return to the past seem alluring. To the glorious days of The Gambia. In the epoch of late 80s to early 90s, just before the names of Lt. Jammeh, Lt. Sabally, Lt. Singhateh and Lt. Hydara were born to the helm of Gambia. The incident of these treacherous criminals have caused ugly scars to the beautiful face of the Smiling Coast! Leaving one to wonder, how beautiful she would have been, had these fools not crashed into her and caused her so much damage to her beauty, by putting such a reckless driver named Yahya Jammeh behind the wheels!!

As my mind recollects the agony of late November 2011, when the news of another Jammeh victory started sinking into my displeased mind! I yearned for the quick coming of 2016. Or shall I be more conspicuous and cease the equivocating that I could not wait for 2016. Like a defeated wrestler, I could not wait for a rematch, or better still have my vengeance. Against the Dictator, who stole my votes. Though, not exactly my own vote, for I have been deprived of such, by the same dictator. But come to think of it, on hindsight, he has actually stole my vote by his deprivation, but for the sake of political correctness, I will leave it at that.

But 2016 hasn’t actually been the 2016 I had hoped. They said a day is long in politics. Whoever first mulled over that aphorism must have been a genius! For none could have expressed it better. Five years in our politics has indeed been forever! Too many had waited with us, who never get to see it and will never get to see it. And even for those of us lucky to witness it, it is proven to be too late for some. The maxim that says: it is never too late in politics, did not envisage the contemporary politics of The Gambia. For it appears that it can be too late in Gambian politics. And it is certainly too late for many of our prominent opposition politicians in The Gambia, who are said to have passed the age of becoming Presidents. Although, I must admit, I have never heard of an age discrimination being more readily acceptable and practiced as lawful as this prohibition in the Gambian constitution of 1997, but it is what we are told existed and had our blessings. Though, I never voted for it and would have never voted for it, but nevertheless remain lawful in our present day Gambia without much fuss about it, as if all happily accept it!

In fact, I never belief in such a concept of age limitations to presidencies, until I saw pictures of sleeping President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, when I had a pause for a thought. But he is over 90. Surely that’s way passed even the age of death, whatever age that may be! In fact I am beginning to settle in my strengthening belief that Roberto Mugabe may have been forgotten by the Angel of death. May be a reminder to the dreaded Angel will be appropriate! But barring 65 years olds from having an aim at manning the office of presidency in The Gambia is not only wrong, but very shameful act of age discrimination indeed!!! Those drafters responsible for the stipulation of that clause into our constitution, should indeed be very shameful of themselves! For it is simply – if I may borrow the Donald Trump phrases – not nice or beautiful thing to do!

Coming back to the topic, much indeed has changed since 2011. For I have grown much older since. Politically, I have started going grey and may soon be going all white! I can further see much from seating now than would have seen from standing in 2011! I am more cautious in my optimism, or better still, I am wise, but not a wizard! No more packing of my bags for a victory celebrations, when the victor is not unveiled. Certainly no flight booking for Gambia yet! I learned and appreciated the truth that it will take more than just hopes to achieve victory. And certainly, I appreciate the fact that it will be an Herculean task to defeat a contestant who doubles as an umpire in a contest marred by irregularities! So I am optimistic for the future and hopeful for 2016, but only this time measured!

They said a United political alliance is the key, I agree, but it has always been the key. Whether by design or folly it seemed to have deluded us for this much time until now to realise it. Shall I be optimistic about a united opposition alliance and what it can achieve! Of cause, though measured by caution! For only in The Gambia small parties tend to dictate bigger parties to follow them. More like an ant telling a lion, I should lead whilst you follow. But when the going starts, a lion’s one pace equals to the ants hundred paces. Yet, the battle has not started with the elephant. But even such an improbable alliance will be championed by many as our only hope for defeating the elephant in a mortal combat! After all The Gambia is the improbable nation! I guess you can describe it, as much hope for hopes sake! But, – if i may borrow a line from Faith Evans featuring Twista song -: I am hopeful, Hopeful for 2016, For I know it ain’t easy, but I am hopeful!!