“Give me a break my Mandingo brothers.. You can come after me, if you want, but the truth needs to be told. This is not about hating Ousainou. This is not about hating UDP.”
“I have always contended that the UDP is not a Mandingo party. It is a diverse party: mainly consist of different ethnic groupings.”
My attention has been drawn to the above captioned article published in the Freedom Newspaper. Having gone through the piece, I had mixed reactions to it. My initial reaction was to just dismiss it as a piece of mischief typical of boys in an “Attaya vous”. This is because the article did not only lack coherence as seen in the two quotations above but most importantly, in my view, the author’s line of reasoning is absolutely faulty. My decision to react was, however, anchored on the fact that the Freedom Newspaper has a wide readership and, sadly, the effect it has had in influencing opinions and events in the past, has been tremendous. That fact I have to acknowledge. This is why I thought it absolutely necessary to put things in their proper context. Since the author is either so cowardly or lacked the requisite confidence in the veracity of his assertions that he decided to leave out his name, I would like to refer to them as “The author” and would like to argue my case looking at the content and the reasoning behind piece.
To start with, if the author is truly a democrat (as they would like us to believe) and is fighting to restore the democratic culture that The Gambia was stripped off since 1994, then the very caption of this article betrays his inner feelings about Democracy and/or Ousainou Darboe. The caption “Should Ousainou Darboe Be Banned Post Jammeh Era From Politics?” carries all the hallmarks of dictatorship and autocracy. Every Gambian adult has the right to take part in the shaping of the affairs of their country either directly or through their elected representatives. Therefore, what makes the author believe that it is politically correct to bring down Yahya Jammeh for denying us our fundamental rights but at the same time politically correct to deny Ousainou Darboe the same rights? If the author had taken their time to think through this caption, they certainly would have opted for a more sober one. But then, I acknowledge the obvious fact that not all of us have the same capacity to carefully think through issues and their effects before acting. Essentially what the author is publicly portraying is that if given a position of responsibility in a future Gambia, anybody who differs with them in thinking or approach should (and would) be jettisoned and excluded from national matters. Certainly Yahya Jammeh is a saint when compared to this author who, even before tasting power, is nurturing such dangerous dictatorial tendencies. You see how people can showcase their idiocy and tomfoolery by talking too much!!!
The author’s assertion that Mandingos should give him a break whilst acknowledging that “UDP is not a Mandingo party” is not only stupidly contradictory but most importantly, it raises the fundamental question about the mental sanity of the author at the time of penning these lines. If the author truly acknowledges the diversity of the UDP and the fact that it is not a Mandingo party, what then is the point in singling out this tribe in reference to the party? Is this another Yahya Jammeh playing the tribal card to garner possible sympathy and support from some Gambians who have an axe to grind with this tribe? The hypocrisy of this author is really beyond belief!!! You know, Yahya Jammeh is so hateful of the Mandingos that he could not contain it within himself but had to pronounce it openly. Atleast with him, we know his position. But how many Yahya Jammehs (including this author) do we have around openly criticizing the man for saying it as he feels when they themselves harbor far more hatred than Jammeh. Again, it is politically incorrect for Jammeh to single out Mandingos for criticism but politically correct for others (including this author) to do the same whilst hiding under the so-called free speech slogan. Mature people settle their differences with others in a mature and dignified manner. But those without proper culture cannot discuss matters without resorting to some under-hand tactics even if such tactics are just too dangerous.
With regards to the author’s line of reasoning, I would like to say this basic truth: those who seek to gain political power legally cannot use illegal means to do so, for tomorrow, such people might not be able to stand on any moral grounds to condemn others who use the same method/approach against them. The current regime’s recalcitrance and “cow-boyish” approach to national matters speak volumes about the leadership. The current regime’s approach to national matters clearly shows that decency is an alien concept and an anathema to the leadership. That is why the Rule of Law cannot be upheld. But should we all be like them? The comparatively better freedom Gambians enjoyed under former President Dawda Jawara was partly because of his decency as a person (a direct result of a decent upbringing), respect for others and for our basic societal values as Gambians. Ousainou Darboe, Yaya Jallow, Omar Amadou Jallow and Halifa Sallah, Sedia Jatta and Mr. Pierre Gomez all share these basic Gambian values (if not anything else) and that is why they are not towing the method being advocated by this author who, with his family, lives in the safety and comfort of the shores beyond The Gambia. Let me provide a solid example why violence may have to be shunned. Lamin Waa Juwara, a one-time strong member of the UDP leadership, had advocated for confrontation especially after the first and second presidential elections. Few years later, he de-camped to join the ruling party and then started his crusade against the Opposition. If he had been sheepishly followed, the country would have slid into chaos with numerous deaths only for him to jump ship later on. Shouldn’t this be a lesson for all and sundry? I would like to believe that the author is suffering from the common disease affecting the youth across the world – youthful exuberance. But this author’s own disease is exacerbated by their puerile mentality which is very obvious in everything they do or say. See the upheaval in the Middle East! Whilst all of them have succeeded in dethroning their leadership and in the process, destroyed their countries beyond comprehension, they are still struggling to bring peace and/or stability to their countries. As I write this piece, Egypt is in turmoil. Coming closer home, we have seen the wars in the West African Sub-region with the endless refugees that flowed into Gambia and other relatively peaceful countries. Do we want to take that sordid direction even if that is what the current Gambian leadership wants? Shouldn’t we be wise enough to know that the current leadership is less interested in the survival of the sovereign state than its destruction? I wonder what else can provide concrete lessons if the above-mentioned cases cannot teach us anything. Moreover, what is the probably that a leader with the same traits as projected by the author of this piece will not take out the current leadership only to turnaround and become a worse dictator than his predecessor, and this is most likely to happen? This is because they shall all have shared the same trait, always acting on impulse without any focused reasoning.
With regards to the UDP members that are currently detained, whilst the direct victim is UDP, the matter is a national issue and it highlights the deterioration of the rule of law in the Gambia (or the lack thereof). A UDP government will not necessarily be for UDP members only but for the entire Gambian citizenry. Therefore, any attempt to narrow it down to a UDP affair is not only unfortunate but most unfortunately, an escalation of a very dangerous trend i.e. so long as I am not affected, let the entire country be up in flames. For how long shall we continue to preach that what is happening in our tiny country is not a UDP and/or Mandingo matter but a national one. However, when people want to dodge reality, it becomes convenient to blame things on a single party or tribe. What a shame!!! In any case, I wonder how much consideration the author of this article has given to this piece especially in terms of its divisive nature and the concomitant potential to reinforce hatred among us thus putting a clog in the wheel of progress. One can clearly discern here the inability of the author to draw a line between Freedom of Speech and civilized standards reinforced by our unique Gambian values.