WRITER TAKE ISSUES WITH EX PRESIDENT JAWARA; YAHYA JAMMEH; AND THE STRUGGLE!
I sincerely believe that what ails Gambia and Gambians is self-inflicted. A society that has for its religion hypocrisy and materialism coupled with love of human praise, insatiable desire to be known, and blaming God for their own faults deserves what it gets. Such a society is Gambia and Gambians get what they deserve – Jammeh- a despot.
I am a Gambian who has lived in the diaspora longer than I have lived in the Gambia. I left the Gambia long before the despot became President. I am not a member of any political party or organization. What I am about to write is not about the despot per se. Please consider me as if I were a gardener pruning the plants in his or her garden. Pruning, though painful to plants, is essential to their wellbeing.
Why am I writing now and not before? My apprehension has been and still is that, I did not want to write and attack what someone else wrote and thereby silenced that individual when in fact that was not the reason why I wrote in the first place. So to avoid that, I decided that it was better for me to keep quiet and just listen to the ongoing quarrels. Another reason for keeping quiet is that, one almost never learns anything by talking, but one learns a lot by listening. Listening is a virtue. Listening is different from hearing. Absent the privation of hearing, which is deaf, anyone can hear; but few can actual listen.
I choose to remain anonymous not because of fear but because I do not want to be known. I know most Gambians who post their writings online. Some of them I grew up with. Some I went to the same high school with, and others I know since I came to the diaspora. I am not writing about myself. So there is no need to know who I am or what are my qualifications. What is important is not the speaker but what the speaker says or writes. Just because I am writing in English does not mean that I know much, and neither am I pretending that I know anything. I have not reached the higher level of education some of you have reached. I am not writing to smear anyone’s name or reputation. If I make a reference to what someone posted on the Internet, I am specifically referring to what that person wrote and not his or her person. I am not interested in the fallacy of ad hominem. Ad hominem is the logical fallacy where a person, instead of attacking what another said, is attacking the person. You will notice that this logical fallacy is prevalent among Gambians online. Those who engage in this fallacy believe that they are debating when in truth they are not. What they are engaged in is quarrelling. It is important to keep this point in mind whenever a person takes a position contrary to yours.
- Why are Gambians addicted to people worshipping? Take former president Jawara as an example. I am not attacking Jawara but questioning the people worshippers and praise singers who think he has been God’s gift to Gambia. I am not comparing Jawara with the despot. There is no comparison between the two whatsoever. Jawara was not and is not God’s gift to Gambians. One online newspaper editor, whom I met years ago, recently wrote an article about “Kairaba” the book, that pretty much commented on a self-gratifying autobiography. Some of the things she mentioned that the former president narrated in his book are nothing new. Some people, including me, knew some of those things long before Jawara wrote that book. I want to suggest to “her editorship” to do some little research, and I can guarantee “her editorship” that she will find information that will yield stories slightly different in some areas and widely different in other areas from what she read in “Kairaba.” A wise man made this observation: “Important political figures do not write their own history and sit in judgment over their own actions. They are accountable to their citizens and later to historians for their actions.”
How many people in the world do you know who write their autobiographies and wrote negative things about themselves? We all know that Jawara was the first president of the Gambia. And that he was a veterinarian. He became a veterinarian from his studies at Archimota College in Ghana. He married a Christian lady from Banjul. Do we know why? He later divorced her. Do we know why? He was kicked out of office and we all know by whom.
Here are some questions for you praise singers to investigate. Who did what for whom between Jawara and the Gambia? Why not make a list of what Jawara did for Gambia and Gambians on the one hand, and what Gambia and Gambians did for him on the other hand. Who got the better part of the deal? I would love to see such a list. In fact, on whose money is Jawara living off on as I write this article? Some other questions that should have interested you praise singers are: Why did the Senegambian Confederation not put Jawara back in power when the despot overthrew his government in 1994 unlike 1981? Did Jawara tried using the Confederation Treaty again? If he did what happened? What was Jawara up to in the months immediately following his overthrow? Why did Jawara take the despot’s offer of amnesty, and never insisted that the same amnesty be extended to all members of his cabinet and staff who were loyal to him and are in exile? Why did he gladly take the amnesty and left those who were loyal to him through and through behind? Have you praise singers ever talked to those persons who were in Jawara’s administration and are still in exile in the West? Anyone who was a member of Jawara’s administration and who later joined the despot’s administration is not included in this group. So, when you have to praise Jawara or exalt him or both, please lay it all out. You know, like both sides of the story.
Some other writers called Jawara the ultimate statesman but these writers never defined what statesman means. These writers never tell us how Jawara became the ultimate statesman or even just a statesman. A statesman worthy of the name does not ride the back of his people or use them for his own advantage. You know that popular saying accorded to president Kennedy, even though he was not the original author of it: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Gambia gave much to Jawara and continues to do so to this day. What has Jawara given to Gambia over the years to deserve a god-like status? Stop people worshipping brethren.
I am not attacking Jawara but in order to highlight the hypocrisy, I have to say some things that have to be directed at him even though my intention is not to attack him personally. Please stop trying to change history. A journalist is expected to do a thorough research before writing about something. And be impartial in reporting.
Not long ago some Hydaras were picked up by the NIA and it was like the whole Gambia was on online radio talking about what good human beings these people are. That may be true but good people do sometimes get arrested you know. Instead of looking into the reasons for their arrest, they acted as if they were above being arrested. To this day, the supporters of the Hydaras have yet to explain the reason for their arrest. No one is above the law. I am not saying that their arrest was legal, but that they are not above being arrested. The Hydaras are referred to as good people because of what they do for poor Gambians. Poor Gambians do good things to other poor Gambians everyday too. And these poor Gambians are picked up by the NIA everyday but there is no outrage about it. Are the Hydaras above being arrested because of their religious beliefs? There are devout Gambians who are arrested every day. Some supporters even mentioned something like the Hydaras are of a royal lineage or whatever. The last time I checked, Gambia was and still is a republic and not a kingdom; at least not yet! What is this infallibility that seems to be accorded to these people? Stop people worshipping. Worship the Creator and not the creatures, who is BLESSED forever.
I am not going to give a laundry list of all the bad things the Despot has done since illegally coming to power. You guys have been doing that every day for the last twenty years and rightfully so. I am not worried about the despot but Gambia and Gambians. Gambia and Gambians are my concern and not a despot. This much I will say about the despot: The despot is a sick man, but most Gambians both home and abroad have the same sickness as he does. The main difference between the despot and most Gambians is this: The despot has power and a stage to exacerbate his sickness and most Gambians do not have that power and that stage. The despot’s sickness is manifested every day for the whole world to see while the majority of Gambians manifest theirs everyday but on a smaller stage. If most Gambians including those in the diaspora were in his position, they would act in ways similar to him. This sickness can be located in the souls of men. The symptoms are the following: love of human praise, hypocrisy, insatiable desire to be known, materialistic, and blaming God for one’s predicaments.
(a) Love of human praise: Most Gambian cannot do anything in secret. If they help a poor neighbor, they want everyone to know about it. Their alms giving, fasting and praying are published to the world to see. They take what is holy and defile it because of love of human praise. Take mercy for example, in its nature it is good but when it is used for the sake of human praise, it becomes an abomination to God. The same can be said of prayer, alms giving and fasting. Those who prayer, give alms and fast to be seen by others get their reward- the rewarding of being seen by others. Are these acts not seen in the despot and in most Gambians at every turn? The recent released of prisoners come to mind. The despot and most Gambians are addicted to the love of human praise. A country full of people who are addicted to love of human praise cannot have a good honest leader. Lovers of human praise get the human praise they seek, and lovers of God get His blessings. Gambians chose the former. The result- A despot!
(b) Hypocrisy is the predominant religion in the Gambia: A hypocrite is a person who acts in one way but his or her act is contrary to what he or she believes. What you see in the despot is not what you get. What you see in most Gambians is not what you get. The despot is a hypocrite and sees the same thing is most Gambians. So why do you guys expect him to treat Gambians with dignity? Look at all the former government officials of Jawara’s administration who jumped ship and joined the current administration after the despot overthrew Jawara’s government. Where is the loyalty in those people? Why in the world should the despot trust them when they joined his government? It would have been plausible for the despot to infer that, these people worked for Jawara for many years and now there is a change of government and they have jumped ship. Why would the despot trust them? These are the kinds of people that the despot sees around him everyday. The despot sees hypocrisy in most Gambians, and most Gambians see hypocrisy in the despot and in most Gambians every day.
How many Gambians wrote negatively about the despot only to turn around and became some of his most loyal supporters? Gambians see in other Gambians what they see in the despot, and the despot, likewise sees in Gambians what Gambians see in him. There is a mutuality of identity here. It would not be farfetched to say that the despot needs most Gambians to be hypocrites and dependent on him, and most Gambians need the despot to be a hypocrite and a lover of human praise so that they can live life as they really are –hypocrites!
To further prove this point, how come when the despot came to power, Gambians have been incapable of forming something like a secret society and plan how to get rid of him? How come the zillion opposition parties could not and cannot unite as one for the sake of their common objective, to get rid of the despot? It is easy to see that they do not trust each other. Because Gambians see in each other what the despot sees in them, and they see in the despot what they see in themselves, unity among Gambians will remain an illusion. Hypocrites cannot form a cohesive group because individually each person would not bring his or her true identity to the table.
(c) Insatiable desire to be known: Most Gambians confer on themselves titles that they have not earned. Start with the despot, of course. It is like everyone wants to be known for something even if they did not earn it. Right now, with the so-called “Struggle,” most Gambians seem to be motivated by how history will view them when the despot dies or is kicked out of office or both. It is ridiculous to try and write history now when you are in the present. I hear this history thing on online radio all the time. Why not just be motivated by what is true and just. For Truth and Justice always prevail in the end.
(d) Materialistic: Materialism pervades every length, breadth, and height of Gambian society. Materialism like hypocrisy is a religion in the Gambia. The predominant religion is hypocrisy followed by materialism, then Islam, and Christianity. The first two are observed with zeal and enthusiasm while Islam and Christianity are paid lip service. Christianity suffers worse. It is ridiculed and its believers are called Kaffirs. Gambians could easily win a materialism world cup competition if there was one. Gambians measure a person by how many material possessions he or she has. This issue is not limited to only Gambians at home. You can easily see it in the diaspora at every naming ceremony, marriage ceremony, at funerals and religious holidays. And this materialism is recorded in videos and sent to the Gambia for all to see the “good life” they are living in the diaspora. How could I forget Facebook, the new stage for showing off ! The despot sees this materialism in Gambians, and it is no accident that he is often seen displaying his pseudo-generosity. You all have seen or heard about the million dalasis gifts, the billion bags of rice and sugar and everything else in between, above and below.
(e) Blaming God for one’s predicaments: When something bad happens to a Gambian, the saying goes like this, it is something that has been preordained by God since the beginning of time. If this ridiculousness is true then no one deserve go to hell because God preordained every bad thing that ever happened to anyone. Because God knows everything does not mean He preordained the bad things that people do in their lives. God exalted the human race by bestowing it with reason. Free will presupposes reason. Stop blasphemously saying that because you have been imprisoned, raped, tortured, or kissed by the despot it has all been preordained by God. It is your love of vainglory and vanity that put you in your predicaments and not God. God gives you reason to free yourselves from slavery. How can God save a society that keeps blaming Him for its own faults? God did not pardon his chosen people when they blasphemed Him; so why should He pardon hypocrites who blasphemed Him. One cannot believe and worship the true God correctly and be disappointed. So when things are going bad in your lives and in the Gambia, instead of blaming God, evaluate your lives. Gambians blame God every day, and praise the despot at every opportunity they got. Talk about a society that does not have its priorities straight. What is worthy of being honored is dishonored and what is not worthy of any honor whatsoever, it exalted above the Most High. This is the true definition of a slavish life. When a society chooses to worship what is below it, it enslaves itself. When a society chooses to worship that which is on the same level with it, it enslaves itself. A society can only prosper when it truly and correctly worships what is above it. Where you have a society that has for its religion hypocrisy and materialism coupled with love of human praise, insatiable desire to be known, and blaming God for their own faults. Such a society is the Gambia and the Gambians get what they deserve- Jammeh- a despot.
By A Gambian Outsider !