After 2 years President Barrow is realizing that Executive Office is not divine power and only through self reliance and work can we develop and that is commendable and we applaud and encourage him. (Our take from Sare Bojo Presidential Rally).
We add a little voice and reminder to him and all and sundry that while we have challenges like many nations, we also have a lot to be grateful and that naysayers and doomsday prophets did not believe The Gambia could be an Independent nation at Independence but we not only survived but thrived. The same prophets of doom and profiteers of hopelessness should not continue to lead the narrative. From improbable, we are the miraculous Nation that led one church to indeed hail our turning our back on strife in Jan 2017 as ” God Intervened!” And amen because we are a faithful and persevering people not a spiteful and vengeful one.
This is again a gentle reminder and we refuse to be what they want us to be, we are what we are.. despite our challenges and mistakes, we remain faithful and optimistic..
Improbable Nation The Gambia
The Gambia is not, will not and cannot be a failed state.
There is nothing worse than a failed state and this tendency of threatening disorder and chaos cannot be normalized. The laws and rules serve for order, peace and stability that are prerequisites for development.
The laws provide avenues for dissent, for protest and for changing unacceptable laws but the wanton attack on State Institutions and the Constitution that continues unaddressed cannot bode well nor selective application of the laws and outrage.
The hailing of some coupists and demonization of others is hypocritical and only delegitimizes the authorities and the State, with devastating consequences.
President Barrow should remember the prescient message the late Deyda Hydara gave Chairman Jammeh and the AFPRC in on the first week of AFPRC rule that July 1994 headlined on the Point Newspaper ” You did not find us crying!”..
Today President Barrow and the Coalition of Parties that govern the Gambian State should remember that ” They did not find a failed state!”
While politics allows for some spinning, all state institutions were working, despite a high debt to GDP ratio, that was nearly 100% ie US$1 billion debt to US$1.01 billion GDP, in Jan 2017, with GDP then rebased to US$1.4 billion for Jan 2016; the Gambia was not bankrupt, most of the debt was short term local borrowing via treasury bills (amounting to over 50%) and the Gambian Dalasi survived better than most currencies over a challenging period between 2013 and 2017 when the South African Rand and Naira fell over 100% each, the SAR 7 to 18 to the US Dollar while the Naira from 160 to nearly 500 before stabilizing at over 360 to the Naira. The Gambian Dalasi went from GMD30-35 to still less than GMD50 now, despite the Ebola Virus Outbreak in the subregion that collapsed the Tourism industry in 2014 and 15; and the post electoral impasse that nearly collapsed the recovery in the Tourism industry in 2017. Late rains and flash floods also negatively impacted on Agriculture.
Still The Gambia faced with adverse international relations, a failed Dec 30 2015 coup and attack on the State House, political crises with the death in detention of the late Solo Sandeng and the heavy handed thwarting of demonstrations by the UDP leaders and jailing, and a 2 month electoral impasse and crises and even near invasion or armed conflict with ECOWAS Military Intervention managed to stay peaceful, all its institutions intact and power transitioned without any violence or break down in law and order. The CBG had US$71 million in reserves and tax revenues have continued to break records so while it was a good lobbying point for external aid, The Gambia was not bankrupt and countries like Japan have debt to GDP ratio over 200%!
Today, nearly 2 and a half years under the new dispensation, the angry and irresponsible rhetoric continues and it is the duty of every citizen to stand up and speak up and because ours is a miracle nation that was improbable.
The Nation are the people, the country is the geographical entity. The State is the legal entity that embodies the collective power and authority of the people in that geographical entity and the Government the body assigned the managing and running of the State.
Sadly people conflate Government and State and in weakening and delegitimizing the State, we risk greater harm.
Coup d’etats are treasonous and coupists are not cuddled in democratic society but we are a nascent democratic society and evolving and experiencing growing pains.
The selective persecution and justice must stop and reconciliation means all, not some. All those that conspired and succeeded or failed in their designs but caused harm or blood by intent and all those that aided and abetted them, especially the civilians and sponsors and foreign hands all owe the people an apology.
The narrative should not be skewed nor can we fail to use this opportunity not only to reconcile and make amends and accept our collective responsibility and duty to all our people.
While looking at effects, we should not forget causes and contributory factors.
25 years ago, young Gambians felt compelled to take up arms against the State and in their minds, take their destiny and that of their homeland in their hands, faced with what they and many considered an out of touch and time 31 years old regime, foreign and alien domination. They succeeded and by sheer luck without bloodshed but they themselves fell apart and soon, plots and counter coups abounded and more than anyone, the young soldiers paid the highest price and some the ultimate price, as brothers and comrades turned against each other.
It was neither surprising or new as power has its own dynamics. Sadly as it us said, all heroes if they live long enough become villains and the only heroes it seems, die young.
As the saying goes, if we don’t learn how we can live together as brothers and sisters, we will perish together as fools.
Ours again is that improbable nation state that was not supposed to be viable, and we not only survived but thrived long enough to be a refuge for many and an oasis of safety and security and an shining model of religious harmony.
Despite all, we survived 1981 with its bloody and devastating consequences and we have survived many possibly well intentioned coup attempts including the only successful coup in our history, July 1994. We survived an electoral impasse without bloodshed and our narrative is anything but of a failed state or faithless nation of vipers. We are a resilient faithful and persevering people.
As my late Dad used to tell ” we cannot all be good but we cannot all be bad!”
Worth keeping in mind in this time when a new neocolonial and neoliberal war has been launched against the African who can never be or do any good.
Only we can liberate ourselves and develop our nation and write our own story but not if we concentrate on pulling each other down..and that is why, mine is a determined voice to remember and recognize and speak of the good in us. No people have survived what we have and emerged stronger and more faithful and hopeful.
On this Easter Sunday full of the redemptive hope we share with our Christian brothers and sisters and the approaching month of mercy and grace ie the month of Ramadan, there is no better time to appeal for forgiveness and reconciliation and peace and eschew rancor, division and selective justice.
Amen and Aluta Continua!
May 22 2019 AD
17 Shaban 1440 AH