Of Neutral Broker, Post Yahya & Political Leverage

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Burama JammehAmongst others I shared the above articles with you all in this year. Each has a theme very relevant to our struggle. The intent was to share how we think we can take on Yahya while we have no standing army and/or civilian militia. More importantly we hope to generate interest in ideas that the solutions are we the citizens and not ‘they’ – whoever the ‘they’ are.

Over time some of you reacted to these ideas through emails, texts, phone calls, etc. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of such people for their time and insights on the different issues. Some agreed with us, some disagreed and others do not see any role for themselves. Mass majority including some well known activists outsourced the solutions usually to opposition parties or their leaders. A handful also blamed the everyday Gambian, whom they err for voting for Yahya and/or failing to take to the streets because they’re directed affected.

Already a reader may beginning to sense cluster/divergent of views and positions within our struggle. Thus more than ever the need for us to converge at a place to thoroughly discusses these issues with a view to arriving at some Actionable National Plan – The Problem(s), The Solution(s), The Vehicle(s), Resources and How to Acquire Such Resources

Until then I will take liberty to address some of the concerns expressed in your letters, emails, Facebook, etc. as to our positions at ‘The people Movement for Democratic Gambia’. We are not suggesting you are wrong rather to present our positions/views such on that particular matter. I will begin with housekeeping matter that keeps coming over and over.

That Burama Is Sympathetic To Yahya And/Or He’s Brother/Uncle: Both are far from truth! I am one of the few Gambians who never supported Yahya. That is, I am not a converted. My position on July 22, 1994 coup was if Jawara was bad, we should have removed him and not outsource him with then unknown soldiers. First it was illegal and second there is no guarantee democracy and protection of our rights will champion the day. Overtime I am proven right and many of such fiends have converted to my side and some reconverted back to A(F)PRC probably in search of some greener pasture. I must mention I wasn’t even a PPP fan/supporter. I was young but knew enough that Jawara and PPP were very bad for our country. Of course looking back they’re better than Yahya.

On the questions of brother/uncle – I was born to 2 peanut/rice farming Badibunka parents at the obscure Kombo South village of Jambur.  That’s how far removed I am from Yahya and his supposed Kanilai roots. The only communality between me and Yahya is our last name which is also the last name of many other Gambians. Rather my positions/views are being practical and pragmatic that doesn’t necessarily follow the ideological path. They’re not about Yahya as are about ‘A Democratic Republic of The Gambia’. A very different concept that must not be confused.

They Should/Failed To Do This/That vs We/I Should/Failed To Do This/That:  This is what I called out sourcing the solution. Many throws blame at the opposition parties/leaders failure to do this/that. Others submit that Gambians (those at home – farmers/stranded youths) are to be blamed for their failures to vote Yahya out.

We hold no grudge were a fellow Gambian chose to make a living. However we should humanly recognize simply being outside the borders of Gambia provides one with some protection against Yahya’s evil. Where we choose to ran away from Yahya’s evil why should we expect another who stays either out of choice or lack of opportunity to fight a shared-cause.

Halifa/Hamat/Ousainou/OJ/etc. are political party leaders but that doesn’t make this national problem solely theirs. They’ve volunteered to do what they are doing. The function has a public leadership responsibilities and we will not hesitate to err them in their failings. However we don’t expect them to go for death or expose their family and followers to undue dangers. We will demand of others what we demand of myself – nothing more or less!

We cannot continue to outsource the solutions nor can we blame others for the failures. We should own this! We should come up with solutions we can be in the forefront if we are call to duty. Every passing day I/you didn’t do anything we are equally guilty. Until we get together as people of a nation – identify/analyze the problem, define actionable solutions, determine the required vehicle and acquire the required resources, the situation is likely to remain so or even get worse. Even if there is a change it will likely be one not dictated by the people hence the outcome not likely to serve our interest.

These are some reasons why we’re not sold on violence/war/force. We will not be one of the fighters hence we do not make that demand of any other Gambian. We recognized our political party leaders can make bigger things happen for our cause but failing to take that route is no different from me and you not assuming such a role. We’re equal citizens of The Gambia! Isn’t it? For instance Halifa and/or Ousainou do not have more at stake than me and you. We do neither expect nor do we recommend ordinary Gambians to form a human chain along Yahya’s route until we’ve adequate organization, mobilization, direction/coordination and resources to manage such political actions from beginning to end.  Should our struggle adopt something like our ’10-Phased Proposed Plan’ we circulated we’re ready to play any role that Gambians wanted of us. Equally our direct participation may not be needed as maybe deem by citizens but at least we’re not hypocrites by asking others what we will not do.

Our advice to our compatriots in the struggle is to measure their views/positions on to themselves before applying it to others. We recognized the public role of being a political party leader but do not see such leader has more stake than anyone of us.

You Don’t Have A Constituent/Join Those With Constituent: This is a concern for committed supporters of specific party/individuals. Our position is not against any party/individual so long the goal is to make Gambia a functioning democracy. In that we are/will be a team member.

What we argue against is the glorification of an individual as the savior of our people is immorally wrong is undemocratic and never produced democracy anywhere on the face of this earth. We’ve golfed Jawara with HIS EXCELLENCY and Mr. EK Sarr called him Gambia’s Jesus Christ.  How did that end? A little less than 2 years Yahya has come from a junior army officer to Colonel/Captain from His Excellency to Doctor to Alhagi to Sheikh. How is that working? Do we want to make another similar mistake with anyone of the current crop of political leaders and/or those yet to be known? The answer should simply be no. What we want and fighting for a functional institutional democracy. This will require capacitating majority of our citizens to able them live a life of democracy before they can expect and/or demand of their leaders.

We’re no competitors but ally provided the end goal is ‘A Functioning Democratic Republic of The Gambia’. We’re probably viewed by such people as renegades and/or loose cannons of the struggle because of the differences in the articulation of our problems and our concept of a lasting solution.  While we stand for a holistic answer to the core problems they wanted cosmetic removing/replacing Yahya with a person of their choice.

The conventional political party approach (elections) may/may not bring about change of a president but will not guarantee ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’ in Gambia. The later will come by through concerted efforts of informed, engaged and involved citizens – this is what we’re advocating. Certainly the constituents of the political parties are important components and shall be useful resources if we’re to achieve a lasting democracy. So far the political parties failed to develop these resources to the desire levels. The opposition political parties lack required resources and political capital to organize, educate and mobilize citizens on democratic governance. The rule parties (PPP and APRC) plus government sees informed and engaged citizenry a threat hence employ every sinister effort to keep people uniform/misinform. We cannot envision a functioning institutional democracy until we overhaul the whole structure. Hence we argued the emphasis should be on introduction of democracy and decentralized governance as opposed to the removal/replacement of a president. This position is not to say a/the president is good but who will be.

Our struggle will have to win the hearts and minds of our citizens (not only those supporting the opposition but also those behind APRC) in order to win over tyranny. For democracy to work the people will have to have a requisite capacity capable of living the life of democracy. A peruse of our 10-Phased Proposed Plan will show the reader how we thought our people could be capacitized and finally assume their civic roles as citizens of A Republic. Our considerations recognize political parties as incubators of these resources but not necessarily owners. Hence they have our full recognition as integral part of any solution.

The person of Gambia belongs to no one. The people of The Gambia are the sovereign owners of state (supposed to). They’re following a specific party based on what they know and hope. That doesn’t mean they will not change that allegiance. PPP, the supposed one time untouchable couldn’t help self nor her alliance help the opposition to win against APRC. The point being no party owned Gambians and informed citizens will at all times make rational independent decisions. Our position is to make the people inform, engage and involve. This struggle is neither about you nor us. Our position remains the promotion, organization and mobilization for an undiluted functional institutional democracy. That should not be mistaken as competing with those with so-called constituents.

Pessimism vs Hope: On the one hand there are those who see force as only viable option to deal with Yahya. On the other hand there are those who will make statements like ‘Yahya is on the run, ‘Yahya is cornered’, etc. Definitely both cannot be true and/or none is true. The former is too pessimistic while the later overly hopeful.

Those with the view that force is the only option are counting on some other Gambians undertake this so-called option while they are safe in Europe/America. That is not going to work. If you don’t want to fight or can’t, you are probably not the best messenger to tell others to fight. More importantly these people should take a look at the history of some recent political struggles. The civil wars of Liberia and Sierra Lone did not produce anything better than what was uprooted but many dead and millions of dismembered left to be care for. On the other hand ANC and PLO rely mainly on political leverage to produce some measurable success with less dead/suffering. Certainly both ANC and PLO has an element of violence as a component of their leverage but only to be used as last resort, at least those sanction by the leaderships. The other extreme violences these organizations were sometimes blamed were carried out by those sympathetic to their cause but not necessarily under their control. Unless we want to keep the status quo for some personal gain (some profit making venue or some kind of popularity contest) we owe it to ourselves to seek out lessons from history to craft a path for our nation that is justice, peaceful, free and as well afford all an equal opportunity to fulfill the dreams of their life. We will not initiate and/or advocate for force/violence nor will we ask of any citizen except in self-defense.

We talked to people who see any proposal impossible with Yahya in the presidency except the use of force. This is extremely a very pessimistic view point. There is too much unwarranted pessimism and despair in our struggle. Besides complaining about what Yahya/Jawara did wrong hardly anyone comes up with concrete actionable solutions. Our biggest problem is our own inaction as opposed to the wrongs of these men and their cliques. The only political actions are our participation in elections. The rest are uncoordinated noises that bear no or very little pressure on Banjul.

The hoping side of our equation is where we’ve been sitting since after the 1st election of the 2nd Republic. That hope is not based on writing articles and publishing/circulating them will bring Yahya down. That hope stemmed on the believe that if our educational efforts can bring citizens around certain concrete actionable activities we will amass enough political leverage to force Banjul into democracy, freedom/civil liberties, decentralization/good governance, rule of law, justice and an equal opportunity society.

Our 10-phased proposal was put out for considerations. We believe others can come up with other proposals that did not occur to our small minds. The good of these processes are to bring the best out of our citizens to come up with ‘A National Agenda’. An agenda that will earn us entrance to the corridors of power in Banjul with seats at the table without a single bullet fired. We’re under no elution this is a ‘Park-Walk’, but with dedicated hard work there is no stopping. In this we are ready to serve the nation in any capacity we are called upon by the citizens. Inversely, count us out in efforts to use force/violence on Banjul. Because we publicly stated we are not going to fight nor will we ask/expect of you – hence we’re not hypocrites.

The solutions lie with the citizens and not Halifa or Ousainou, etc. as leader’s of a political party as many activists seem to be outsourcing. That doesn’t mean these distinguish men have no significant role and/or leadership to play but no one party and/or individual can craft a functional enduring democracy for a nation. We’ve essentially tasked Jawara to do just that some 50 years ago and he produced ‘Jawara Kunda/Jawara-Ya’ in many senses. Today both in quality and quantity we have enough human capacity to collectively path our collective destiny to produce a functioning democracy.

They Failed To Organize/Mobilize Their Supporters To The Streets: The outsourcing mindset is fueling this thought. It’s their problem and not mine/ours. This is very wrong premise. Halifa and Ousainou (just using them as examples) do not have anything more at stake than you and we. Why should we expect them do more than we should/are doing. Why should we ask of them to fight when we wouldn’t? Others err the everyday citizen for voting APRC. Their complete lacks of understanding human rationality – citizens are voting the ways they do for their immediate interest.   We will avoid to elaborate on the rationality for such behaviors as it is a different subject matter. We wanted to state that no one should expect peanut/rice farmers such as my parents to fight this battle. This is our battle and the nation has armed us with education/awareness and other resources to fight to the finish line. All we needed is to effectively/efficiently organize and mobilize our resources. Any failings are the fault of all of us and not the subsistence farmers who has practically no use for a nation-state much more her government. Equally Ousainou, Halifa, Hamat, etc. shouldn’t be squarely blamed for our failing; although we recognized their elevated responsibilities as leaders of public (supposed to) organizations.

The current political parties are integral to our struggle but their present structures, programs and presentations will not do it no matter how much reshuffling to contest an election. Everything about these organizations sits on the assumption of a party operating in a normal democratic environment even though they’re denied very basics such as to freely campaign at a time and place of their choice. We will need either to seriously restructure and reprogram the parties with freedom, liberty and democracy the main task. Who become next president is secondary and will be left to informed, involved and engaged Gambians to decide.

UDP, NADD, PDOIS, etc. or Halifa, Hamat, etc. are not the problem(s). They’ve choose to form a political party as we choose to form a Civil Society Organization. The relevancy of each individual or group will/should be determine by was they stand for and not the composition/membership in the long run.

It’s therefore we the citizens responsibility to craft solution(s) as opposed to apportioning blame and/or tasking an individual or political party with this responsibility.

There Are Too Many Organizations: This is a common complaint and we don’t know why!  Besides being a good feature of democracy it is natural that we have different interests, expertise’s, religions, ethnicities, etc. all of which pull us into different paths. To interface the effects of these actions is an essential element of functioning democracy.

Freedom and democracy require tolerance even if one did not agree with such a position. We have attained great strides with religious tolerance but our politics is a different matter. Consider the following undemocratic political views – you are APRC or enemy of Gambia; if you don’t belong to final NADD you are dead opposition; if you don’t support PPP you were jealous (‘A-Nyanee’); etc. Democracy, freedom/civil liberties and development are not conformity but divergent, we should not only cherish many organizations but encourage it.

No More Niceties But War With Yahya: This was the flavor of the month after the DC Gambia Mission event. We contend that event is no spring board to mass riots and/or unconventional political activities in The Gambia. We cited the fact that April 2000 Student Demonstrations impacted Gambia more but failed to incite any political upraising. An isolated event by handful of individuals in the administrative capital of USA will not likely impress Gambians to pick up machetes and hunting guns/gun power to begin to reclaim the nation by force. So far we’re right!

It’s only a week or two and reports are out that 2 Gambians/US citizens disappeared/abducted/detained while on vacation to their birth land. Where’re the violence advocators? If confronting Yahya is in the work we would thought here is another reason to jump out into action. Equally in the pass many things happened such as detention of journalist Ebrima Manneh, killing/murder of Deyda Hydara, political detention of Kanyiba kanyi, the ambush on UDP convoy in URR, the ambush of UDP convoy at Denton Bridge, etc. that could ignite political uprising but didn’t. Again we will not be in the frontline in the event of violence; we will not ask any Gambian to do so; but we have clear ideas that we can take out dictatorship and replace it with ‘Functional Institutional Democracy’ whether like Yahya likes it or not.

Yahya Must Go, Go Now: We always ask but how? Sitting in US saying so or in UK or elsewhere saying so has absolutely no practical meaning to that effect. We want Yahya to go but he’s not going to evaporate in thin air. We should endeavor to make sure he departs on our terms otherwise we’re likely to regret as we did when Baba Jawara was ousted. We will not and we hope you don’t settle for ‘anybody but Yahya’. That’s what produced Yahya and we all know how that is working/not working.

These euphoric utterances have no material value for our struggle nor do they bear any pressure on Yahya. Recently there are noticeable increased vulgarities on Yahya in the various social media. We are all for freedom of expression but identified members of our struggle going that low is an indication of surrendering ground. We should context on the Ideas, Constitution, Laws, Policies, Regulations, Governance, Decentralization, Democracy, Human/Civil Rights, etc. and not tirades of insults.

We’re in total agreement that Yahya should go but not only Yahya. It’s the WHOLE STRUCTURE/SYSTEM! Please read an alternative structure/system in Draft ‘The Working Paper’. Our challenge – How will he go? How do we manage that process to construct a better future? Dreaming, hallucinating and/or wishful thinking are no answers.  Remember we said HOPE is no PLAN!

We appreciate your concerns, comments and suggests. Whether we agree with one another at this point is not as important as making efforts to come together at one point to put all of these ideas to test with a view to coming up with A National Agenda. Thus, we call on all citizens to come up with solutions and less of the problems especial Yahya. We can cost effectively do this by maximizing the use technology. Please come out to coordinate this effort at a role of your choice. Someone has to do it; that someone is you unless you said no.

Finally, the article is label combo because all the issues were dealt with in earlier writings.



Burama FL Jammeh


Founder/General Secretary

The People’s Movement for Democratic Gambia






810 844 6040