By Mathew K Jallow
Quite often, stories about the predatory nature of Gambia’s political system have all the hallmarks of medieval ruthlessness. At other times, we are transported back deep into Africa’s primitive, sanguinary belief systems. In either case, the bloodcurdling levels of physical and psychological violence in the Gambia have silenced the population into painful indifference to a vicious new norm; unparalleled culture of insensitivity to the brutality, deaths and incarcerations of innocent citizens. The molding of the Gambian psyche into a condition of total submissiveness has given rise of a sobering, but pernicious dilemma between apathetic silence and dogmatic moralization. The Gambia’s political fragmentation is stark, acrimonious and personifies a test of will and integrity for the courage or lack thereof in demonstrating moral rectitude or pedantic cowardice. The fear induced moral insensitivity that grips the Gambia’s political system, has robbed citizens of their virtues of didactic probity, and blinded the population to Yahya Jammeh’s bigoted efforts to recreate the nation into an image alien to the sensibilities of Gambia’s bone-fide citizens. In its most profound, much of the political dissidence to the deadly and incurably corrupt military regime speaks to the fierce opposition to attempts to change the character of Gambian society; its bloodlines, its soul, its spirit; it’s very heartbeat. More broadly, Gambia is a microcosm of the worst in African politics; a possible flashpoint for civil unrest, but like the quintessential African despot, Yahya Jammeh is consumed more by pathological fear of political powerlessness, than by the festering restlessness and unrelenting chorus for political change. The dichotomy of public opinions in Gambia could not more dramatically and demonstrably dissimilar; from the apologists sympathetic to Yahya Jammeh’s propensity for political violence; to rational citizens convinced that regime change is imperative in ending the terror that has gripped Gambia for two decades.
Yahya Jammeh’s intransigence and resistance to political change is Machiavellian in nature, but more than that, it embodies cowardly attempts to evade liability for the crimes committed on his orders. Considering the severe strain that Gambians are in, and the psychological trauma citizens experience, Yahya Jammeh’s hunger for power is on the wrong side of the arch of history. The dangerous fixation with political power, which he unapologetically exhibits, even after decades of ignorance, tragic governance and economic pillage, has spawned the revolutionary tensions sweeping Gambian communities across the globe. The realization that collective constitutional action is more necessary now than ever before, Gambians are increasingly aligning with the idea of civil unrest, as the only viable alternative to elections that the opposition will never win. Not unlike historical facts emanating from other countries, Yahya Jammeh’s obstruction of political change is a powerful force in the mental weaponization and psychological militarization of the Gambian people, despite the country’s iconic peaceful disposition. The enduring quest to be free is an objective moral necessity, which apart from being ingrained in the human genes, is a universal moral value. A new, evolving political dispensation compels superseding the old political power system of selfish psychopaths and overbearing oligarchies, with the supremacy of the people’s collective voice. Yahya Jammeh’s persistent resistance to political change in Gambia is antediluvian in nature, unsupported by a growing global paradigm shift. In the laws of nature, everything grows old; fear of Yahya Jammeh grows old, terrorizing citizens grows old, slavish subservience to Yahya Jammeh grows old and, even citizen suppression grows old. The Gambia has limped along for two decades, not by the will of its people, but by the force of will of a military regime whose sad history belongs to a past, which Gambians would rather forget. Yahya Jammeh’s blusters, soaring rhetoric and hyperbole have been effective in restraining Gambians, but the will and efforts for his removal, will never wane.
In the annals of political revolutions, popular rebellions begin when gullible human being, herded around like domestic animals, have their backs to the wall, with nowhere else to go. The Gambian people long ago reached that threshold; that critical boundary of tolerance, and the oppressed population is metaphorically held to their last gasp of air. The blinding fury and palpable exasperation, which afflicts the souls of the Gambia’s paragons of virtue, continue to challenge an almost docile Gambian population to snap out of their comfortable zombie-like indifference to reality. History is replete with generations of oppressed peoples around the globe fighting for freedom from exploitation, and for the sanctity of their human dignities. The Gambia’s charlatan, oppressor and human maggot, Yahya Jammeh, is an illustration of dangerous lack of basic intelligence, and increasingly, more and more citizens have concluded that, to a lesser degree, he personifies the reincarnation of Idi Amin’s wild demons. As the walking avatar of political chaos and disorder, Yahya Jammeh’s ad hominem attacks on everyone, border on insanity, resulting in degrading the Gambia to a pariah nation. Gambians inability to yet remove Yahya Jammeh, is partly driven by subterranean tribal and economic considerations, particularly in the diaspora where the challenges of streamlining a unified political objective is undermined by efforts other than for Yahya Jammeh’s removal. The consolidation of efforts behind single political leaders, based on tribal consciousness, is divisive and counterproductive to the common cause, just as the appropriation and misrepresentation of the collective diaspora efforts, for personal benefits, is an act of disingenuousness, with a tinge of moral corruption. Yahya Jammeh’s removal cannot happen in far-flung narrow, underground cells of like-minded interest, and efforts to prepare anyone for political leadership, before conversations on Yahya Jammeh’s removal, is the embodiment of lack of foresight. Yahya Jammeh is Gambians’ collective problem, not a tribal or self interest problem, and his removal has to be a collective Gambian effort, for Gambians are on this difficult journey together.