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A ‘man’ in an African context is not only a human with a penis and testicles but a person who embodies courage, humanity, integrity, honesty, principle, loyalty, endurance and maturity. Coupled with these laudable hallmarks accentuating manliness are compassion and caring. This reminds me of a lad who queried his dad: “Who is a good man?” After highlighting all the trademarks of a man to the innocent lad, he looked at his dad in the eyes and said “When I grow up, I would like to be like mum”. His dad was for a moment baffled and lost in his imagination. As he was pondering if his son was growing into a gay, the reality of his son’s statement slapped him hard across the face. He awakened to the fact that all the cherishing characteristics he evoked to portray a man except the penis and testicles were extraordinarily housed in his wife.

Similarly, circumcision for the African boy, is not only the removal of the foreskin of the penis but a rite of passage to the world of manhood. “Rites of passage play a central role in African socialization, demarking the different stages in an individual development (gender and otherwise), as well as that person’s relationship and role to the broader community. The major stage in African life is the transition from child to adult when they become fully institutionalized to the ethics of the group’s culture. Rites of passage are for this reason critical in nation building and identity formation”, posited Shahadah. Conventionally, this initiation of the African child from childhood to adulthood exposes one to the underworlds of manliness as elaborately captivated in some of the rite songs of varied African tribes. Most importantly, one is expected to emerge grown-up, respectful and helpful at all times. Consequently, if an initiated man behaves in a nonconformist manner such as disrespecting another person is tagged a solima-uncircumcised. Arguably, on this plane, it is fitting to call President Yahya Jammeh a solima who needs circumcising.

Firstly, President Jammeh is arrogant and indiscipline. However, before referencing instances to substantiate my deduction, I would like to contrast his character to that of Okonkwo of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” novel. Okonkwo, a son of a vain, lazy and wasteful father, got catapulted to fame and power by the hand of nature when he defeated Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling contest. He loathed his dad for his poverty, laziness and weakness such that he resolved himself to become his father’s complete opposite. His father represented failure and he will epitomise success. To nest success and acceptance in a world which hails manliness, Okonkwo dressed himself in a uniform of brutality. With the passage of time, he transcended into a very volatile man who excelled in exploding at the slightest of provocation. Regrettably, he became insensitive and controlling to his wives and children. At the height of his power and fame, he became stoic. Like his father, Okonkwo found himself at odd in adapting to the changing realities of his community. As a result, he began defying the gods and disdainfully rejected the advice of an elder not to partake in the killing of his adopted son in a futile effort to avert the course of nature. He nonchalantly dismissed the advice as personifying weakness. The execution of his adopted son relegated him to a relic. Eventually, he ended taking his own life to avoid capture and humiliation. Arrogance with misjudgement, anger and violence brought about his demise. Ironically, Okonkwo exemplified President Jammeh in many striking ways as can also be inferred between Okonkwo’s father and that of President Jammeh. Jammeh’s arrogance and indiscipline can be illustrated in many instances.

One of the most striking is his recent insulting of the Mandinkas which generated headlines in most Gambian media outlets. He had also contrasted Imam Bakawsu Fofana with his shoes in a live national TV coverage intending to humiliate the Islamic cleric. Also insulted by President Jammeh are some cabinet ministers, religious clerics and senior civil servants. Jammeh’s arrogance is amply captured in his disregard for establishment, custom and ethics.

It is repeatedly reported that Monster Jammeh always orders the filming of the tortures of his captured perceived enemies which he watches in his quiet moments and gratifies his demonic ego. The unlawful detentions, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and political thuggery all punctuate lack of the benchmarks of manliness in President Jammeh. It all add up to reveal a rotten inner core beneath the hard outer cell of his whitish Grand Mboubou.

The fundamental question which now arises is how do we circumcise President Jammeh? For a start, Gambians must acknowledge that political power resides in their hands and not on the politicians. Precisely why they come back to us at the end of every five years to beg for our votes. Furthermore, we must also appreciate the fact that it is us who decide the next president come 2016 election, not Jammeh, Darboe, Bah or Jatta. To believe that whether we vote for Jammeh or not he will win is nothing but a fallacy and political ploy to get your vote. Incumbent presidents have been and will continue to be voted out of power and the closest to home is Senegal and Nigeria. Accordingly, we can circumcise President Jammeh by voting him out of office in 2016 Presidential election. He has avails us all the reasons to do so. For instance, he accuses Jawara of corruption and flamboyant life. Today his personal wealth is more than the national. He rides in the most expensive American cars, he travel on private planes, has offshore accounts and one of the most expensive houses in America. Secondly, he said Jawara overstayed for 30 years. He is now 21 years in power and recently opposed a two-term limit for ECOWAS member state presidents which was tabled in Ghana for consideration. Another reason why we should vote him out of office is the decaying economy under his leadership. Basic commodity prices are sky-rocketing daily, the Dalasi is equally depreciating at an alarming rate, the national reserves are depleting unflinchingly and standard of living is worsening every second.

In conclusion, President Jammeh must be voted out of office in 2016 election.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

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