14 years ago, I left my country as one of the youngest commanding officers of the Gambia Police Force to seek protection in the United Kingdom owing to political duress of your autocratic reign. What was my crime? I was branded ‘stubborn and living ahead of my time’. Perhaps, I was but the truth is I refused to join the club of the status quo for which I paid with 14 years of nightmarish agony and heart-breaking nostalgia. My learned and seasoned brother- E. G. Sankareh, Raleigh, NC, USA-observed: “The greatest of all ironies for me and the most poignant moment in my life perhaps, is that the despot who prevented me from returning to my birthplace for almost 22 years is today, an exile himself. Unlike me and my colleagues “subversives” as he labelled us, Yaya Jammeh will remain an exile forever and probably, very soon, a captive and prisoner of his own acts”. Very freshening indeed. But it neither measures up nor effaces the agony, trauma and endless sleepless nights with unsurmountable anxiety of waiting for a decision on your asylum claim. The nagging fear of been refused and deported. The embarrassment of been perceived as an economic migrant. The stigma of being a refugee. Worst of all is the lacerating pain of separation from your love ones, wife and children.
Dr Baba G Jallow also has this to say, “Indeed, I cannot pretend to know why the tears poured out of my eyes and kept doing so for so long. Perhaps it was my sense of the tragic nature of human life; perhaps it was the reaffirmation of my conviction that those who make other people’s lives miserable must in the end become miserable themselves – that we indeed do reap what we sow, as Jammeh is now destined to do for the rest of his life. Perhaps it was because finally, the giant rock of injustice we have been striking for so long has finally crumbled into dust and our dear little country has been given another lease on life.
People go into exile for reasons that may often be broadly categorized as either right or wrong reasons. Those who go into exile because of their insistence on respect for natural justice and the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the right reasons. Those who go into exile because of their disrespect for natural justice and their trampling on the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the wrong reasons. Yahya Jammeh belongs to the latter category. He is not going into exile because he was a victim of injustice but because he was a perpetrator of injustice. He is not going into exile because he had seen the light of reason but because he had seen and feared a real threat of physical annihilation by a force greater than himself. Yet, unlike people who go into exile for the right reasons, Yahya Jammeh cannot remain connected in any positive way to his homeland. He cannot advocate for respect for natural justice because it was his disrespect for natural justice that landed him in exile. He cannot advocate for respect for human dignity because it was his disrespect for human dignity that landed him in exile. His exile will be much more painful than ours because he has no cause to fight for on behalf of the country and the people he has bullied and terrorized for 22 years. He can wallow in the laps of luxury, but he will never be able to stop or get any relief from the painful pangs of homesickness that all exiles suffer from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year. His exile will be a much hotter and drier desert for his spirit than those who were forced into exile for the right reasons and who therefore hope to return home someday”.
Waking up from perhaps his longest night, if he had any sleep at all, Jammeh will swallow his first dose of exile. As reality gradually dawns on him and the consequences of a once vain dictator set in, Jammeh will appreciate nothing is more gratifying than being discipline, compassionate, humble, tolerant and honest. You told the press that you now know who your true friends are. Awesome. I guess you are a bit hasty. Wait until your ill-gotten wealth runs out then you will know who your true friends really are. But until then be my guest Jallow Kanilai. Ops, my bad, I meant to say Jallow Conakry. Very soon when all the dust of uncertainty and insecurity finds a resting place, I will be home. When are you coming Jallow Conakry?
Do I have any regrets for living in exile? Certainly, not. My living in exile has helped in crushing down a vicious dictator. If I have to do it again, I will pleasantly start all over again. But dictatorship isn’t trendy anymore and Gambians have decided to be commanders of their destiny. Welcome to the world of exile Jammeh. One more thing, please keep your filthy hands of the charming young Guinean light skin girls.