Fear Conquered The Souls Of Our Intellectuals
Gambia known for it’s small size in population was rich with intellectuals that excelled in academics to become Lawyers and experts in their own rights, but failed miserably when faced with fear to go along with dictatorship for survival at the detriment of the nation. As we get closer towards the end of the Truth Reconciliation & Reparations Commission (TRRC), you will take note of our brightest sons and daughters that had the intellectual pedigree to know right from wrong. What was ethical and what was not. What was legal and what was illegal. What was convenient and what was not. Instead of using their intellect to move the nation towards a more democratic society, they used it to help tighten the grips of dictatorship. It was made by accepting appointments, and feeling like The Gambia needed them more to serve and cajole the hands of dictatorship to make life a little bit easier for the victims.
The beginning of the TRRC showed perpetrators accepting their heinous roles and taking full responsibility for doing the dirty jobs. The ending now shows the intellects running away from those responsibilities no matter how small of a role they had. Is it their intellectual capabilities that allows them to shift blame, or did they not see that fear had conquered their souls? I have high respects for Lawyer Amie Bensouda and Mama Singhateh after seeing their testimony. I remember bashing Mama Singhateh while she was Attorney General for sitting with President Jammeh during the impasse knowing fully well that she was supposed to represent the IEC if the matter was to head to court. That there would be no justice even with the errors that were rectified for the whole world to see. That President Jammeh did not have the powers to annul the results unilaterally by himself, and overturning the will of the people by pressurizing Parliament to pass a State of Emergency. During her testimony, what I find outstanding is her ability to know what the law allowed and what it didn’t. Her constructive engagement towards showing that she was highly skilled in her role, but her failure to take any responsibility no matter how small it was in her role as Attorney General for the unfortunate incidents that occurred during her time in office. If we were expecting any sort of remorse for the lives lost during her time, we were not going to get anything from her because the reality was set in her mind to defend anything she did within the Constitution and any sort of concession from her end would show weakness to her intellectual capabilities of practicing law with all her experience. I must commend her for showing us that she is no fool to accept defeat, but that it was in her nature to believe that she was serving her nation well to cajole President Jammeh in some of the many advices she gave to save the nation from the worst. But what was the worst? Could it be war or could it be that time will make her assumptions of making Gambia an Islamic Republic go back to her first advice of going through a referendum!
Hate her or love her, but I came to respect her thoughts as an iron lady who would not concede to any sort of questions as to her being at fault. What she failed to realize though was that perhaps if she had admitted that fear of her suffering like her other colleagues would have made her appear more human. I wished Deputy Lead Counsel had pressed her when she asked her, “ Where you sitting with the President during the impasse?” She replied in the negative. But then after counsel went on to ask her more questions, Mama Singhateh said, “What’s the impasse?” As if she forgot that she had answered in the negative already by making us believe she did know what counsel was talking about. I found that exchange strange and should have been exhausted. Overall counsel did well in her own style of questioning, but she was met with someone who sticked with President Jammeh until the end no matter how many people left his side. That shows loyalty to the President and not the country just as we just witnessed with the end of Donald Trump. We saw how Donald Trump had thought in the beginning that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be loyal to him, FBI Director Comey, and many others which resulted into firings. That was not normal in a democratic society nor should it have been in our own Attorney General when the country needed her the most during the impasse.
I hope that no matter how small it is, Mama Singhateh will one fine day apologize for any minimal offense she felt was done, cause Mama Singhateh needs to be reminded that she is not perfect as much as she would like to think or believe. I personally have forgiven her for knowing that she is a Gambian with a high degree of intellect, and know that she was consumed by fear even if she doesn’t admit it.
As for the Hon Lawyer Amie Bensouda, here is another talent that to the best of her ability, gave the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Counsel (AFPRC) her expertise in forming a framework as she put it, but without taking any responsibility whatsoever. Was it a fair assumption? I strongly believe in her to say that without her these were no fools that couldn’t find someone to do it. That the arrests and unlawful detentions had already started prior to the decrees. That she did not in anyway or form give them legitimacy, and that she was a civil servant. However, I hoped that she could also acknowledge or put more emphasis that fear had consumed them to find ways of saving as many lives as possible and not abandoning the people when they needed them most. I am proud to see great intellects assist the nation, but I am not proud to believe that they didn’t have a choice of leaving if it was in conflict with their democratic beliefs that rights were being violated. I am glad that the TRRC which many had said before “Not In Our Name,” are more glued to the T.V now than those who initially wanted to see this for the sake of, “ Never Again.” The closer we get to the ending, the more you will find out that those who enabled the system of dictatorship in the beginning in one way or the other, end up being the very victims of dictatorship.
To conclude, I will seriously urge that we all learn from the past, and find ways of healing, coming up with good laws to protect the citizenry from such ever happening again, pay reparations, and stay away from any sort of prosecution that will destroy the fabric of our small population. We all played a role in dictatorship, and made it get to the part where President Jammeh thought he was not just the owner of Gambia, but the owner of our very own existence by clapping for him and helping him draft anything he wanted. We the Gambian people had many that resisted, but many of our families can never be expunged from enabling dictatorship no matter how small that role was. At the end of it all, fear had conquered the souls of our Intellectuals that put us all in this mess we are trying to get away from.
Note: I write this on my own free will, without consultation, or the belief that I am right, but that it is my opinion on how I see it. You have the right to agree or disagree, but we are all custodians of our beloved Gambia and will do everything humanly possible to play our roles for the sake of love of country to The Gambia 🇬🇲 Ever True.
Momodou Alieu Njai