Seriously! Another Crisis; Another Manufactured Crisis!

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Tribalism has surfaced its ugly head again! In fact has it gone anywhere?  It appears everybody has it stored in the secret pocket of the under wears ready to be pull out as convenient. It was only few months ago Yahya ranted, blaming UDP and Ousainou Darbo of engaging in Mandinka tribal politics. How different are we from Yahya when anytime convenient we also seek refuge under the same big tribal tree? The only difference I can think of is Yahya is in power and we’re not. That should be a serious concern for our struggle because it suggests we will be a replica of Jawara and Yahya – maybe worst after learning from their experiences/experiments.

Guys humans landed on earth (biblical/evolution) in races, tribes and/or some sort of localized identity. Hence, it is a fact of life that will never go away. Learn to live with it! In as much as one wants to use it, often to disguise his/her inability to argue on relevant matters/facts of the issues – it doesn’t hinder democracy. The good news is that functioning institutional democracy makes some amends to fix those anomalies. We should also be educated and prepared to make amends of majority’s tendencies ride over that of the minority either tribal, religious, trade, horticulture vs animal husbandry.

Above all, isn’t it a pure distraction from our problem? The goal ought to be how to institutionalized democracy in the Gambia – period! Everything else is secondary or minor or irrelevant. The goal is neither and should not be to fight one dictator in order to crown another dictator nor is about to instituting a Tribal/Clan/Religious State.

It is the essence of democracy we are critical of one another on issues. It is wrong (no use) to talk about each other’s food, house, spouse, religion, skin color, tribe, education or village when any of these thing has a bearing on the national issues.

It is undesirable to attack the person of these politicians just because you can without a good national/public issue. However, it is neither criminal nor should we argue to make it one to talk about someone’s’ person. The politicians/public leaders have all the opportunity to defend themselves and/or explain whatever is said about them. On the other hand, it is fair game to talk about their public/policy/democracy propositions. It is legitimate to rigorously debate what they did/did not do and/or say/not say in their capacity as public leaders. Those who can’t tolerate that are telling us they can’t stand democracy as both Jawara and Yahya’s followers couldn’t.

I fully remembered few years ago that I wrote an article questioning the rationale of Halifa/PDOIS, advising Gambians to vote YES at the Referendum knowing how flawed the Constitution was. I asked questions whether they are the usual states-persons who truly want us out of military rule and/or theirs was an opportunistic argument because their chances are good at subsequent elections without the banned First Republic politicians. I received bunch of commendation texts and emails. About six months ago I wrote an article titled ‘Anybody but Yahya’ approach to our struggle is not a good enough goal. I had to fend off people even on the phone for their displeasure. Some accused me of shooting under-the-tent. Goodness every issue I highlighted is about the Gambia and those individuals’ actions and/or inactions. Nothing about their person!

These undemocratic tendencies have being my suspicion – what’s the goal of the struggle? To remove/replace Yahya with a person of our choice without the necessary prerequisites – is simply exchanging dictators depending where one stand in relation to the two leaders involved.  We will (should) ban X, Y and Z from one thing or another is the most fearful undemocratic utterance I heard from our struggle so far. Democracy works with institutions that are established and run by/on laws. The Constitution establishes the republic and provides the broader legal frame. The legislature make laws for our dignity, equal opportunity/fair play, morality/virtue/ethic, recognize/safe guard our rights, etc. An individual has no authority to sanction the ban of another on anything national; certainly s/he can express his/her desire for one.  The goal of law making is to better the nation.  Democracy doesn’t make laws to include/exclude an individual/group but one that serve the interest of state. For instance we can as a nation state our president at the time of acquiring office has to be between 25 -55. Such a law applies to everyone. One of the problems is constant changing of laws depending on who is affected/not affected. Nor should we do Ex-Post Factor Laws – undemocratic and produces witch-hunting.

For our struggle anything other than the match towards a functioning institutional democracy is an unworthy fight for me and I hope so is it for you. I am neither in this because Yahya and I are of different tribes nor am I because someone in the opposition is of the same tribe with me. In fact I am in this for Gambia where I have equity like any other Gambia.

It appears we only demand democracy when at the ‘short-end’. When at the ‘long-end’ we want others to just accept and ride along. When our forefathers negotiated independence, they made big promises in contrast to colonialism just to end up asking us to follow their rule and not necessarily institute democracy. Probably the demands and expectations of the then generation were low and may have preferred self-rule regardless. Along the way we were we are told – “Gambia without Jawara; May God forbid” (In Mandinka – Alaama Tang-kaa Laa Gambia Jaawa- Rang Tan-Ngo). Remember Yahya’s words on the evening of July 22, 1994 – are we not 180 degrees from those empty rhetoric’s. Here again even amongst ourselves we are selective what’s the issues and usually indifferent to democracy if that would not favor our person interest/position. Are you not concern that will be a problem in any eventual outcome to out-struggle? I am convinced that different people perceived democracy differently depending on their current position in relation to power. However practical democratic governance has a definitive mean (democracy is defined to the degree those are attained), yet broad enough to include many ideological/philosophical – governing differences.

Our goal can’t be compromise – ‘A Functioning Democracy Republic of The Gambia’. The root of this goal is founded on the founding of our nation – The Republic of the Gambia. We’re sovereign and should decide how we’re governed. It’s not even about a so-called ‘good-government’ as it is about ‘our-government’ – of, by and for the people of The Gambia.

Democracy is a bittersweet pill that has to be swallowed in equal dosage through the same route by all citizens at a specified time. There is no exception except the dictates of nature that are recognized and catered for. More importantly democracy is not about a government building fancy building, driving flashy vehicles, travelling in style or using the latest electronic gadgets and/or even a fanciful governance arrangement…instead democracy is the people living a life of democracy. This requires a requisite human capacity. That’s what creates the incentive for people entrust with authority adhere to the free will of the governed.

Let us all reflect on where we’re in relation to where we want to go/be. One shouldn’t be surprise to realize most of the problems are within self and not the other person. It’s only human to blame others for everything that’s bad and wanting to reap the accolades of everything that’s good.

I disagreed with the narrowness of the approach of our political opposition. I mean the focus on only vote me and I will bring what you looking for – I don’t believe for a moment they will keep that promise. I rather prefer broader demand for democracy regardless of time and/or the current occupier of State House. Nonetheless I have no doubt in my mind that they (these known opposition figures) have sacrificed more than I did for Gambia. Added to that I wouldn’t shy from saying that is equally true from many others like me. This doesn’t imply we’ve surrendered our rights be critical (is an element of democracy) of them but better on issues. Better yet let the positions be argued on facts and reason…sentimental rhetoric’s may seem flattering but nobody benefits in the end.

My thoughts!


Burama FL Jammeh

Founder/General Secretary

The People’s Movement for Democratic Gambia

810 844 6040

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