Gambia: “LAW # 2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies”


“LAW # 2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies”

Alagi Yorro Jallow

I was going to do a periodic review of Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power” So, I singled out four of the 48 laws of power that are reflective of the Gambia and her leaders. I am sure there are more but these four jumped at me during today’s review. From Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and Yahya Jammeh and now Adama Barrow, these men have perfected the art of playing to their enemies’ insecurities while keeping their “friends” at arm’s length. This scenario has played out particularly well over the years – certainly, shortly after the “2016 Coalition” floundered into a gloomy bickering alliance of a collapsed coalition, morphoses into a tactical alliance government championed by Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party. A political gridlock of power struggle, politics of godfatherism driven a new crisis and an ever more cantankerous politics of godfatherism get in deep trouble with gloomy consequences. The godfather and the godson turned sour in the twilight relationship. President Adama Barrow’s former longtime “godfather” Ousainou Darboe is now the devil incarnate and his former “enemy” APRC and Barrow Youth Movement for Development are the man’s newest “brother”! That – Ousainou Darboe and United Democratic Party– don’t seem to understand what Adama Barrow is doing is as aggravating as it is fascinating!

Hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove.  Since the politics of godfatherism between President Adama Barrow and his erstwhile political nemesis, his political father, interesting political realignments keep unfolding. The former UDP loyalists are now more government than any coalition or UDP loyalists, political lackeys and hangers-on.

In fact, the later are now rudderless and unsure of their future. But it is now apparent and obvious who the new lap dogs have been hired and detailed to deal with: one Ousainou Darboe.

There is an African proverb that states: “when a hyena wants to eat one of its children, it first accuses them of smelling like goats.” Adama Barrow and Ousainou Darboe are seemingly a succulent roast goat in the current political scheme of things. The political carrion hunters are circling and angling like hyenas for the kill. Leading the pack is virulent online mujahedeen (some are respectable friends on this timeline), whose only task is to brand Adama Barrow as the “Most Corrupt Gambian”.

Politics is the art of the possible. One does not require to have any intelligence to be a Gambian politician. The more cretinous, the better.

President Adama Barrow is using his former “enemy”  the APRC and other coalition partners as a counter-weight to his one-time godfather Ousainou Darboe and there is more they can do about or if they do, neither allies –  the APRC and  other  coalition partners  of Adama Barrow – want to set aside their differences and tell Ousainou Darboe to eff off!.

LAW #2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies. Greene is strongly of the opinion that without enemies around us, we grow lazy; he goes further to state that an enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert. “Hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove.” If there is a law Gambian’s commanders-in-chiefs have perfected over the years, it is this one from Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”.

LAW # 32: Play to People’s Fantasies:

“The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.”

 “Free WIFI for all in Western Region”; “Rural Electricity in all homes”; “We are a sovereign nation and will not kowtow to those foreigners”, “No more corruption” and the latest, “Our economy is strong!” These are fantastic proclamations that Adama’s base bought hook, line and sinker. I am curious to see how this handout is disbursed because not everyone has a price and eventually, those who are easily bought or co-opted feel like they did not get their “fair” share the first time around. Greed and corruptibility work like that.

LAW #45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once. Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past. A changemaker is moving things in the right direction, but a smart politician will avoid stirring up too much anxiety and dissent. That is why it’s better to change things gradually, one step at a time, dragging the voluntary people with you.

We are now in the third year of President Adama Barrow’s “reform agenda” and at each turn some Gambians have responded with the breathless “This time He is ‘really serious’…. Let’s give him another chance”.

Each version of the verbalized need for Gambians to “change” how they comport themselves and how his cabinet ministers oversee their respective ministries have come and gone and nothing has changed – in fact things have only gotten worse!

Last, but not least,

LAW #48: Assume Formlessness. “By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing
is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes.”

Q: What the hell does this man Adama Barrow stand for?

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