By Mathew K Jallow
Pushing citizens against the wall has historical precedence that has often tested the extremes of their tolerance levels, and sparked mass resistance and rebellions. The backlashes frequently incite fearless expressions of discontent that spiral into political skirmishes, and result in an oppressed people’s liberation from state terror. These spontaneous outbursts of grassroots activism have spawned unrests and metastasized into political movements for freedom, which grow beyond the ability of the state to either control or manipulate. If this scenario seems familiar, it is because the Gambia is living this reality at this material time. Many things are happening simultaneously in Gambia, all revolving around a political system that for two decades has unleashed the disdain and rejection of its citizens, both on political and moral grounds. The Gambia has evolved a new political system, which mirrors Yahya Jammeh’s contempt for the customary political and governance conventions, by willfully circumventing the instruments of effective governance, as enshrined in the Constitution. This intractable mockery of the systems of governing tantamount to ridiculing the sacred document of the Constitution, casts Gambia as a nation of lawlessness, and shock citizens by the illegal regularity with which Yahya Jammeh has singlehanded promulgated laws that seek to further entrench his odious military regime. The practice of frequently amending the Gambia’s Constitution by fiat, in complete disregard of the power and authority of the Gambia National Assembly, also inadvertently suppresses countervailing attitudes towards the laws of the land, particularly, the imperativeness of a nation-wide referendum for the purpose of amending any part of the Constitution. A case in point is Yahya Jammeh’s recent declaration of Islamic state in the Gambia, a move that is already manifesting simmering resentment from the powerful Christian community. The rejection of attempts to divide the Gambian people based on Yahya Jammeh’s false faith and fake religiosity, illustrates his deceptive mindset, and has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the divine context of faith and religious beliefs.
To be clear, consequences of illegally declaring Gambia an Islamic state are far-reaching, and threaten the existence of the Christian belief system in a multi-religion secular society. Christianity has for several centuries been the vanguard of intellectual and economic development in the Gambia, and attempt to legislate it out of existence is unworthy of the Gambians people, and is roundly rejected across the differentiations of tribe and faith. Yahya Jammeh’s palpable fear of the spread of Islam by Islamic terrorist operating in the region, far outweighs his moral obligation to Gambian, by disassociating himself from the fatal religious intolerance he is foisting on Gambian society. Yahya Jammeh’s comical Islamic state will not likely survive him, and will, by popular demand, be rapidly abrogated so Gambians can return to the peace and unity of their secular roots. Injecting religion in Gambia’s body politics also has other sinister motives that, though political, do not at first glance seem nearly as apparent. But nothing has irked Gambians more than Yahya Jammeh’s recent promise to substitute the Gambian Constitution and English jurisprudence, with Sharia Law and the Quran as the basis of Gambian law. This may seem extreme, and even far-fetched, but it fits perfectly into his political doctrine of reducing Gambians into the type of subservience found only in religious scripture. As Gambia’s economy is disintegrating, and the level of poverty is skyrocketing, the exploitation of religion to insulate himself from the wrath of a disillusioned population may seem like a good idea, but reality may catch up with Yahya Jammeh as demands that he steps down reverberate across the land and far beyond. At no time has the pure hatred of Yahya Jammeh and his cabal of corrupt crooks, been as virulent and dramatically demonstrated as in this year’s struggles for electoral equity, and the open defiance showcased on the opposition campaign trail. And as the public urges a recalcitrant opposition into some form of political unity to boycott the impending December elections and create a transitional unity government, the momentum is growing to cancel the elections, as echoed in communities where Gambians reside across the globe.
This year, the clamor for change through opposition unity self-consuming for many, is echoing in every corner of the country, as it alone can guarantee the likelihood of political change. For far many Gambians, the realization that Yahya Jammeh is a greedy murderer, who is plundering the Gambia’s meagre resources, is only now beginning to dawn on their collective consciousness. And ostensibly, the death of fear in the Gambia has propelled the growing nation-wide rebellion that promises change, regardless of the apprehension and timidity of the largely moribund opposition political establishment. As Gambians take back the freedoms denied them for twenty-one years; freedom that truly belongs them, both constitutionally and by nature of their citizenship, their control by the political parties will be diminished, as control over their own lives becomes their focal interest. In the recent past, both UDP and the new GDC have helped spring into life, a side of Gambian society that no one knew existed, and systematically helped channel their supporter’s anger into solidarity for political change. This year, it is stating the obvious that if elections are free and fair, and the opposition collectively coalesces around a common unifying political objective, Gambians would most likely do something very radical, and which may also seem miraculous; to electorally unseat Yahya Jammeh from power. Overwhelming evidence suggests that this year, Solo Sandeng’s martyrdom and the subsequent detention of the main opposition UDP’s senior leadership, including party leader, Ousainou Darboe, have snowballed into open popular rebellion that has forever removed the element of fear that for two decades consumed and paralyzed Gambian society into mind-numbingly indifference to the catalogue of state sanctioned political assassinations, murders, tortures and terror. This year, the political orthodoxy has forever changed, and it is imperative that the paradigm of ritually voting for Yahya Jammeh’s regime also comes to a screeching end. Gambians will once again have the freedom to make their choices without the coercion of outside interference, in particular, from Yahya Jammeh personally and the cruel AFPRC, the military regime’s political party.