By Mathew K Jallow
Yahya Jammeh once insulted the African Union. Now he frequently insults the ECOWAS; even threatening to unilaterally pull Gambia out of the West African bloc. And, insulting the US and UK are his favorite pastimes. But, recently, the thing he relishes most is disparaging the EU, once telling the European body to “go to hell.” If Yahya Jammeh views neighboring Senegal as his boogeyman, it is because, to a large degree, he acknowledges President Macky Sall as his kryptonite. Yahya Jammeh can no longer control Guinea-Bissau’s political affairs, order assassinations of political nemeses there, exploit resources of that country, causing that country’s decade long political unrest, since President Sall’s election. On the surface, his lunacy may not seem much, but put together, it tells a story of his consistent touch of insanity, and tinge of reptilian insensitivity. Yahya Jammeh displays a disturbing pattern of behavior that is borderline megalomaniac in nature and cowardly in disposition. And as bad as his actions are, they don’t exemplify Yahya Jammeh’s worst display of pure political madness. That has to be the more than six instances of summary executions;, ranging from as few as six innocent military officers, to as many as forty-four Ghanaian nationals captured on the high seas, bound for the Canary Islands as illegal immigrants. Since 1994, the political killings have exceeded five hundred, and Gambians have lost count. This does not include three hundred who died in prisons, the thousands who fled to Senegal, West Africa, UK and across Europe, the USA, and the dozens who disappeared after their arrest by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers, most, since 1995. In a related matter, The World Bank estimates that 65% of Gambia’s university graduates have left the country; second only to the Cape Verde Islands. But, it is Yahya Jammeh’s child sacrifice killings that most mystify and defy reason, and characterizing this ritual as cruel, barbaric and animalistic, will be an understatement that doesn’t do justice to this primitive animist practice, which is a throwback to the Cro-Magnon era. It is hard to determine whether Yahya Jammeh is motivated more by a lust for power, material greed or both, but for a person who had less than ten dollars in his bank account, in 1994, Yahya Jammeh is easily the richest head of state in West Africa, with properties spread around the world; Greater Banjul, Guinea-Conakry, Morocco, and his $3.5 million crown jewel, in Washington, DC, on the priciest real estate market in America, all from Africa’s poorest country.
Yahya Jammeh is truly a composition of multiple personalities, none of them congenial, and all of them repulsive to the extreme. This is not merely my opinion; ask any Gambian. But, there is another angle to Yahya Jammeh few people know; he has turned the Gambia as a center for the transshipment of illegal South American drugs bound for the United States and Europe. Yahya Jammeh’s wife makes frequent forays to Washington and Paris, which some believe are Imelda Marcus type wasteful shopping sprees, but others see the trips as nothing more than using diplomatic cover to transport illegal drugs to the US. Be that as it may, one thing is clear, there is only one country on the African continent where the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest is flaunted with mindless indifference to the sensibilities of its victims; Gambia’s majority tribes. Yahya Jammeh’s muscular tribalism is a catalyst in the decision to free the Gambia from his scathing ignorance, in order to rebuild the relations that bound our citizens together, without regard to tribe or regional origin. Despite Yahya Jammeh’s best efforts, in creating divisions of tribe among Gambians, at the personal, individual and community levels, his colossal failure is routinely celebrated as an example of commonsense human values. Gambians of every hue have determined that it is at the government level where Yahya Jammeh has the most impact in tribal discrimination in hiring, business, educational and promotional opportunities. And in spite of the energy wasted in creating tribal rifts, his divisive efforts are superseded by generations of cultural and bloodline bonds, which Gambians value far more than the hatred he is implanting in Gambians. Nonetheless, in the same vein, it cannot be denied that Yahya Jammeh’s departure from moral rectitude has had a devastating effect on Gambia’s marginalized majority tribes, who together consist of 95% of the population. The Gambia is, today, a perfect case study of the tyranny of the minority; Yahya Jammeh’s life worth, but it is also his undoing. In many ways, Yahya Jammeh is a counterfeit of few bad men of history he likes to mimic; his mentor Col. Mumar Ghadaffi, Idi Amin Dada, and Sekou Toure; copying their greed, savagery, perhaps, more importantly, copying their indifference to cruelty. After twenty-two years, the Gambia has reached inflection point, and political change, to conform to the rest of the civilized world, and the shifting political paradigms of our time, is the goal of their nation, and the reason Gambians voted for political change.
Ideologically and temperamentally, Yahya Jammeh is stuck to the past; in the world of archetypal dictators, tyrants and military rulers, who graduated into believing their indispensability and supreme right to not be accountable to justice and the laws of their lands. But the political world is changing rapidly, leaving these rulers far behind in the filthy dustbin of history. Yahya Jammeh needs this truism driven into his empty skull. And as the political impasse in the Gambia drags on, Yahya Jammeh is increasingly facing mounting challenges as several dozen institutions and agencies in the country abandon him and submit to the will of the Gambians people, by throwing their weight behind the elected Coalition. The state-sanctioned killings, forced disappearances, tortures, mass incarceration, fleeing of Gambians in search of safety in other lands, may be emblematic of Yahya Jammeh’s military dictatorship, but the recent mass resignation from Gambia’s Foreign Service; ambassadors to Senegal, United Kingdom, United States and China, among a dozen others, is singularly Yahya Jammeh’s worst storyline since losing the elections in December 2016. The mass resignations by the Gambia’s diplomatic corps and continuing defection by members of the military and security forces, have increasingly left Yahya Jammeh more and more isolated; if not completely abandoned by the core of his civilian defense, and, therefore, throwing his frivolous legal claims into disarray and redundancy. From every corner of the globe, Gambians have sent bruising condemnation to Yahya Jammeh and his sickening regime; and speaking the language of reason, made impassioned pleas for Yahya Jammeh to defer to the will of the Gambian people and step down. After twenty-two years, winning four elections, Gambians are baffled by Yahya iJammeh’s claim to power, even after clearly losing the elections. The common thread that runs through their logic is best summed up by an angry Gambia; “by the hundreds, Gambians have lost their lives, fled the Gambia by the thousands, incarcerated by the thousands, threatened by their own government, lost billions of dollars to state looting, and still Yahya Jammeh wants to drain every last drop of our blood.” Yahya Jammeh’s strange fixation with political power, will, this year, be met with steely determination, and no amount of gymnastic contortions and artful dodge will change the election results. And as Yahya Jammeh continues to hemorrhage goodwill from his own supporters, his delusion is that ECOWAS will magically stop demanding his resignation. But, ECOWAS is committed to support Gambian’s yearning to be finally free from two decades of death and destruction. Yahya Jammeh’s and his ragtag army’s saving grace is step aside and allow the laws of the land and the Constitution to work. After all, Gambians voted for freedom, and freedom they deserve