Gambia: “JAAM BOOR or JAAM” (A Free Man Or A Slave) ? As A Man Thinks, So He Is!

epa00558091 Gambian President Yaya Jammeh arrives in Dakar, Senegal Friday 21 October 2005. Presidents of Nigeria, Gambia and Guinea Bissau paid a one-day visit to their Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade on Friday in a bid to break two deadlock situations in the West Africa region. Nigerian President and head of African Union Olusegun Obasanjo has been appointed last week as mediator in the Gambia/Senegal border dispute, sparked by August's 100 percent hike in the price of the Gambian ferry crossing. Obasanjo is also due to smooth over the crisis between Guinea-Bissau's new President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira and Prime Minister Carlos

A person’s thinking determines their whole life and future. They may blame others, but they are often their own worst enemies. In Gambia we have a classic case in the form of our so called president whom I call the Man of Lawlessness and his enablers

His mentality is that of a feudal king, where he owns everything under his control. The nation’s wealth, land, people including women (whether married or not). He is a total despot or dictator with the power of life and death without consulting the law or anyone. IF he were a feudal king he would be perfectly within his rights to behave as he does. Many of our ancestors all over the world did so successfully or otherwise. The problem is that he is out of the time frame of feudal monarchy. The world has moved on and such power has been taken from most of the current monarchies in the world today. Democracy is to a greater or lesser extent the norm in the modern world and is essential to run a modern state. 

Years ago my father had a taxi and engaged a driver to operate it. The problem was that this particular driver was more familiar with horses than cars. Needless to say the car did not last long in his hands and never paid for itself. The point? Choose someone competent for the job you have in mind, not on simple liking or relationship.

At independence Gambia and most African countries inherited a modern (instead of subsistence) economy and some form of democracy. The problem was that in some cases the people (especially in the rural areas) regarded their leaders a hereditary kings and treated them as such. Naturally most of these leaders encouraged this because it made it easy for them to remain in power irrespective of competence and performance. This is why so many of their economies and infrastructures declined and collapsed. Posts were awarded on the basis of loyalty and relationship to the leaders without regard to their competence. Hence Gambia’s situation today.

Gambia was blessed to have Sir Dawda as our first president and cursed to have the current man of lawlessness. Sir Dawda was a humble and very competent leader. A statesman who used his office to bring literally peace, progress and prosperity to all Gambians and foreigners alike. He also tried to bring peace to warring factions outside our borders and and was widely respected by both African and Western leaders. He respected all people and tried to win them over by discussion, appreciation of their feelings and situation. He was never a man of conflict or violence and always worked through the law and constitution. Even in his own divorce case around 1970 he appeared in court as simply Mr. Jawara. He was a Statesman, who worked in the interest of all concerned. Unlike most politicians who only seek their own interests and of those who support him.

My point? The First Republic represented a modern democracy in harmony and providing a compatible government for the 21st Century.

The Second Republic represents a return to a past that will keep us backward, poverty stricken and in terrible condition. The question facing every Gambian now is which will we choose, and consequently what type of leader will we choose to support? It is an individual decision for every Gambian. What will the Third Republic bring, a step forward to democracy and a prosperous future or the collapse of Gambia in to chaos and anarchy under the present man of lawlessness?

The determining factor is not the leaders but the will of the people. Living in the same Senegambia region, why is there such a difference between Gambia and Senegal? The critical difference is the mindset of the people. In general the Senegalese people insisted on their democratic rights and made sure that no leader was untouchable. The removal of Abdoulaye Wade was a clear example. They acted as free men or Jamboorr. In contrast Gambians were prepared to accept anything from their leaders so long as they could get a few scraps from under the table and made themselves slaves, ignoring the blatant abuse of power, the constitution and laws. Too many Gambians have allowed themselves to be turned into slaves and have a “jaam” mentality. Even the latest ploy to turn the Gambia into an Islamic State so that he can make himself king and continue his selfish ruinous rule un-elected and unopposed.

Gambia CANNOT change until the majority JAAM mentality changes. When there is a mental change, then there can be constructive political and economic change. The question is not WHO will lead or save us from the man of lawlessness, but when will we, meaning each of us wake up and decide to change our country. Many are willing from the outside, but it has to come from the inside.

As more than one Senegalese has told me. “Gambians sonnann gu nyu”. Gambians are not tired yet. A slave cannot be freed unless he decides he wants to be free. If not he will always look for a new master. Too many Gambians prefer to be slaves eating under the table, rather than sitting at the table and eating with the ruler as equals and free men.

Hats off to Halifa Sallah, OJ, Ousainou Darbo and many others who have stood their ground and refused to be intimidated by the man of lawlessness, our shameless so called president. They have not failed, but the enablers and jaam like the GSIC and other institutions have failed our country and brought us to ruin.

An old saying goes “people get the leaders they deserve, because they reflect those they rule over”. Gambia does not lack good leaders, but our leaders lack committed people to follow them. It’s the old saying no pain no gain. Freedom always has a price.

Written By A Concerned Gambian

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