We Saw Nothing But The Gambia
What If We Now…
Several days later, I burst into some crippling emotional breakdown as I react to the worst news in a night study class at Nusrat Senior Secondary half full of students. Half full, because by then majority of the students cease coming for night study classes for the obvious reasons. The fare of an imminent worst to happen in the aftermath of an election in Africa is always expected, and at the time The Gambia being under a dictatorship even speaks more volumes.
The media would later dubbed it the “political impasse”. I have since never really, interrogated what it means. In The Gambia, misapplication of words and terms are as common as poverty in the same. The diction of the public is in the hands of few influential individuals, words like “impasse” “system change” “patriotism” and “hero” have faced the worst forms of grammatical abuse in the hands of journalists and political puppets. Nor myself neither any one person that I know is immune to these many abnormalities in this country.
“I Now Rejected The Results In Totality”
In the process of extinguishing this ‘conditioning‘ terrible emotions, I found it difficult, especially at first, to believe the headline that popped up on my screen via BBC was true and to totally ignore the personality of the speaker was another thing especially that he has previously accepted the election results.
I was shocked. I did not realize when I stood up and had my hands on my head. When the students behind me asked what the matter was, I pointed to the laptop before me, which was given to me by the school principal, MrKaramo S Bojang when I was leading the Nusrat Press Club in order to update the news column of the school’s website. They all read the headline at once: “Gambia Leader Yahya Jammeh Rejects Election Result” ! You can imagine the reaction…
At such instance and in the Old Gambia, one would have expected this announcement to send small high school boys like myself under the bed.
However, there was an inappropriate response from many of us, which could have carried more worries, insecurity and tensions.
We left the classroom, and stood outside with our voices high speaking in compassion and unionism: “WE WILL DIE FOR THIS COUNTRY but JAMMEH MUST GO”. Just imagine! 😂😂
I mean, that was before I walked to the school gate to meet Mr Jallow, the janitor and saw soldiers patrolling.
My original destination was to the shop just adjacent to the school gate. Don’t ask me if I reached there…
Confident is best built upon an experience. With regards to conflicts and Jammeh controlled security apparatus, I have no experience with them but I have heard and read terrible things about them and I thought it wise to make do with my heels as fast as possible back to the veranda of the class and to inform my mates of what I have just seen.
Then….the SILENCE took over.
Weeks later, the school became virtually empty. In many cases, one would have expected teachers to stop coming to school. Some don’t obviously come, because there was less need to but great Mr Outash Kah would not waste an hour because of “less need to”. So, he would even teach if a single student was in a class. Mr Kah, was an exceptional teacher.
In case you supposed, for example, that I am set to narrate to you some great experience of the 2016 Political Impasse”, in my mind’s eye and from even what I have script above… I have no such intentions.
It follows that, I am just interested in picking up a scenario from it.
“WE WILL DIE FOR THIS COUNTRY but JAMMEH MUST GO”
So that night, when we came out of the class, when we spoke, and when we reason together as kids about our country there were unique traits shared among all of us: Unity, patriotism, and solidarity. We saw nothing but the Gambia.
In the historical days of 2016, what the absolute majority of the citizens stressed, all communities, and even across the political divide was a necessity to put forward the national interest, and solidarity in order to move this nation a step ahead. We saw nothing but the Gambia
The objective of all those who stood to defend the supreme sovereignty of the masses, to defend our votes was, as we perceived it, for the common good. *They saw nothing but the Gambia.
Yet when I take a cursory glance at the “recent pass”, 2016… The flashback that I am preoccupied with is a shared sense of unity, and patriotism among Gambians. There was no tribe, there was no ethnicity or what we now all foolishly “fuel” as tribalism. We saw nothing but The Gambia.
Of the many anomalies of the pass, there was unanimous condemnation of nepotism, corruption, violation of human right, abuse of power, disregards to the rule of law, among the un-exhaustive list of Jammeh’s rotten administration. What I observed was recognition of the essential truthiness of Gambians because we saw nothing but the Gambia.
There is still another aspect of this history to recount, of the times when we had the fortitude, at the most troubling times to abide by the laws and indeed through it we became the first nation on earth to uproot a dictator through the ballot box and the fullness of time dispelled the doubting world, that indeed WECAN. We could have burnt this country down but we all saw nothing but The Gambia.
So, what if we now match in unity and solidarity for the love of the nation, to build The Gambia we want?
What if we now realize like Jammeh, most of these groups of politicians are egocentric, divisive, deceptive, and corrupt? They found delight in subjugating political power, settling personal issues, and proving a point than addressing the common good?
What if we now kill the tribe and build the nation? Regardless of your sentimental attachment, loyalty cannot be divided.
What if we now realize the euphoria that followed the arrival of independent, the arrival of the 1994 coup and the Coalition 2016 are more than enough of lessons for a People to learn from? At all these instances, The Gambia, the People were betrayed.
What if we now realize that we have with no sense of humiliation failed to build a nation worth the name? That it is an insult of the highest extent, for even our leaders to think it is a natural penalty for us to be born poor, live begging and die of the same.
What if we now realize, another problem of profound magnitude is the dishonesty, opportunistic, and hypocritical nature of many a Gambian? Nothing could be truer than to say hypocrisy and opportunism is truly in-depth in The Gambia.
What if we now realize, that we have been cheated for far too long or that you are cheating others?
What if we now reason together and once again see nothing but The Gambia?
Toney F Mendy
3rd Year Law Student
University of The Gambia