Gambia: The Confrontation


While Jammeh builds a government that does more and more to pry into the lives of ordinary citizens, he does more and more to keep his own bullies free from scrutiny. For instance, serial Killer Sulayman Sambou, a vexing personality— despicable rants to the powerful freedom newspaper Editor “I will sex your mother “who dutifully stood by with a thick skin, socked and fearless by those horrible comments.  There’s not a great term for this phenomenon and its consequences. But the significance of the staging was clear: This is want Gambian women go through when in captivity. When viewed through this lens, Mr. Sambou represented the most visible emblem of the kind of people now entrusted to protect our citizen. This is the latest, and the most dangerous, in a long line of regime attacks against the citizens and politicians. A Wolof proverb goes by “Language can add some dignity to grim business”.

In a stunningly brazen act of defiance against the very notion that government should be answerable to the public, Yaya ordered, public entities such Gambia Radio and GRTV to be mute on demonstrations issue. By limiting access to information, the regime further increases the likelihood that Justice, police, NIA, etc can get away with abusing political enemies — and, for that matter, abusing any ordinary citizens that the regime, for whatever reason, disfavors. The effect of Yaya’s recent restrictions of citizen’s movement to Banjul or High Court is to deprive and try to muffle Gambians of timely information regarding the innocent detainees.

More colloquially, we need an independent authority like Ecowas or UN representatives to oversee court cases in Gambia.  Without independent authority to review such case like April 14 and 16 protesters, the defendants will be at the mercy of the very agencies serving as potential abusers instead of watch dogs. It gives the regimes political appointees the power to thwart investigations into their own malfeasance. It’s an outrage. And, as noted, it is part of a long train of Yaya Jammeh abuses against Gambians. If any single department merits a strong citizenship, it is Justice, which holds vast powers not just to harass but to prosecute and imprison ordinary Gambians. Frighteningly politicized under Yaya Jammeh, the Justice Department now is the perfect example of why an overseer itself needs oversight.

Conversely, we have been an overdependence on regime, who frequently fail to deliver on Gambians expectations, and a reluctance to accept that an established status quo of arrest, torture, humiliation can’t hold. The Jammeh regime has done so more than once as they conflate criticism with inaccuracy. Surrounded by yes-men and yes-woman his entire presidential life, born with ego, Yaya doesn’t seem to accept the criticism that comes with public life. Gambians are demanding new leadership that prioritize domestic concerns over tribal affairs; they want to curb partisan interests; they want the public more services from paid taxes than vacuous platitudes; they want protections against snooping NIA and Yaya Jammeh stealing businesses; ignorance about tribal disparities in law enforcement -sentencing policies and they want to shrink or do away with institutions that harm citizens.

Perhaps a mean, vacuous and dangerous man so obsessed with proving himself—to others and to himself—shouldn’t have been given the chance to be president of once peaceful beautiful Gambia. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Yaya Jammeh as the first minority president was supposed to usher in a golden “post-tribal” age but instead gave us the most divisive conciliator-in-chief. A man who peddles fear as a first order. He won’t give up dead bodies but distributes meat? Hello! We need to recognize that some of the vestiges of our tendencies might be holding us back. Meanwhile, Gambians are fighting for a “Like” at Facebook whiles our country burns! Those old folks, illiterate colleagues and youths at the court proceedings aren’t the once going to occupy the corridors of power when freedom reigns. Lastly, Can GDF print “Mbaatu, Kalama” revolution t-shirts to raise funds and provide free t-shirts to Gambians.

By Habib (A concerned Gambian)


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