By Alagi Yorro Jallow
It’s the season of storm, convulsions, disquiet and turbulence. Heavens will not fall. The Kingdom shall scale through the huddle, but with the wheel of democracy shall have a new birth of freedom; with freedom comes responsibility. It is earned by each generation. At the end, the battle will be between the Indomitable Sahelian Lion and the Tiger.
Democracy is about the best ruling the rest. There is no say in it for anyone who is ordinary. If the people are told they are useless in a democracy, they will fight. Leave them; they will discover on election day that all the options are no options. People don’t choose their President, Chairpersons or MPs; the party elite and their conspiracies do. And for the Gambia of 2021, party elites are cooking the soup right now. In recent years, however, a new picture of leadership has emerged, one that better accounts for leadership performance. In this alternative view, effective leaders must work to understand the values and opinions of their followers–rather than assuming absolute authority–to enable a productive dialogue with followers about what the group embodies and stands for and thus how it should act. By leadership, we mean the ability to shape what followers actually want to do, not the act of enforcing compliance using rewards and punishments. For the UDP and Baa Ousainou is simple, he is a Messiah and the Gambia’s Nelson Mandela: “Ala Kulli Haal”- ‘Baa Ousainou Numukunda; Dorong’ as Party leader and standard bearer of the United Democratic Party.
Gambians, when a people in each society conditioned their minds to believe that only one person has the brilliance and the wisdom to solve all their problems, they have fatefully opted to live at the mercy of his wishes, human frailties, imperfections or outright failures. For the UDP congress slated for December 7. No man born of a woman will contest that ticket with Ousainou Darboe and the UDP will pick the political beast of the party. And none can bet that other man, Ousainou Numukunda Darboe. The die was cast long, long ago. ‘Darboe Jula Dorong’ And when you look around in war and all you see are broken heads and limbs of otherwise powerful foes, you will think yourself the ultimate champion in all contests of life. The United Democratic Party people felt exactly like that too. They sat so comfortably in government in waiting, as the main opposition because Baa Ousainou told them they would reign for unbroken a UDP led government; “Insallahu” — and they boasted about it. But it turned out that what the hard-hearing Adam Barrow drunk with power, absolute power.
Neoliberal political scientist and scholar, Francis Fukuyama, felt same way too. At the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he was sure the West had won the ultimate argument and humanity had reached the very end of its sociocultural destiny and destination. And truly, it looked so: Marxism is dead. Communism has collapsed. The second pole of a bipolar world has cracked and collapsed. Welcome to a unipolar world of free enterprise! What again has anyone outside the West’s liberal democracy to say? Never again will any other ideology compete with capitalism and its heart of gold. That was how Fukuyama reasoned — just as Baa Ousainou the Conqueror did in Gambian politics – and so Fukuyama wrote his famous book: The End of History and the Last Man.
But Fukuyama was wrong. History is non-linear. It has no starting point and no finishing line. Maybe it is safe to say it is a cycle, perfectly spherical like the world that shaped its course. The world would soon know that there might not be again a Marxism or a Communism or a monstrous Soviet Union with their troubles for the West to contend with, but a new world with new arguments and new struggles was possible. And truly, from the very trunk of western confidence sprouted the Occupy Movement, then the Arab Spring and the other springs of new narratives which challenged the West and its ugly capitalism. Soon after the Cold War, history appeared to be on the march again. And it didn’t take long for Fukuyama’s thesis to start melting. French philosopher, Alain Badiou, wrote his The Rebirth of History and interrogated the various new class contradictions and contestations for space. There also came Seumas Milne’s The Revenge of History, an acknowledgment of history’s resumption of its march against the ephemerally dominant cord that thought itself the only voice. Even Fukuyama himself later had to write on humanity’s “Posthuman future” to qualify his original thesis.
When the narrative at the heart of a system of rule falls apart, when the flow of history runs counter to the story told by those in power, then we know the entire edifice is crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions. The political crisis arrives when the people sense that the prevailing order is built on a foundation of contradiction of the contradictions and deceit. The leaders panic, scrambling to reweave the matrix of fables and myths that justify their waning supremacy. At such points in history, the truth is up for grabs – and a change of regime and leadership is in the offing.
“If we don’t plant the right things,” American poet, singer and rights activist, Maya Angelou, warned, “we will reap the wrong things.” The congresses will soon come and go, and all political parties are expected to hold congress and will choose for a leader. But that is the easy part of the war. It is the breakfast before the day’s work. From now till the end of December, generals, political hacks, political strategists on all sides, will seek to overrun the other side. There will be a heightening of the assault called disinformation and misinformation campaign. False news graven images and impressions will be created with greater intensity. The fog of war will descend on the land. Armies will outflank, outmaneuver, and take out each other. There will be desertions and rumors of desertions; there will be prisoners of war. From the rubble of this war, someone will win; someone won’t win.
Politics is the ultimate jungle. The first lesson dwellers of the jungle learn is how to self-preserve. Only the living rocks the forest no matter how powerful or beautiful you may be. And you cannot live (long) by being meek or gentle or too eager to lift every prostrating beast seeking help. Did you not hear Edwin Clark shooing off defeated president for being too gentlemanly for the treacherous forest of political demons?
Tigers are animals of interest anywhere. They kill and eat even animals bigger than them. They are also clannish. They hate opening up to anyone outside their mother’s room. Those who know would tell you that “Tigers do not normally roar at other animals, but instead they roar to communicate with far-off tigers.” Even when a tiger plans to kill another animal, it won’t see that prey as deserving of its roar. It would rather hiss before finishing off the victim. Tigers are not just big and strong; they are clever too and that explains their successful reign of terror. When a Tiger sees you are a big one, it uses wisdom garnished with guile and hunts you down by ambush.
Tigers don’t shout their tigritude just as deadly men don’t proclaim their deadliness; they inflict it with summary swiftness. If you wait to hear their roar before they strike, you are dead. Fix your gaze into the predatory eyes of a tiger, “it is less likely to attack.” It relishes “the element of surprise” as the icing on its cake of gallantry. When a tiger marks up a human as prey, sneaking up on him at night is the perfect normal. And you do not spare a tiger ensnared. You assist a troubled tiger to your sorrow. It knows no word called appreciation. It knows only itself and its cult members. I see so many of this around: politicians with no blood and stomach democracy.