By Mathew K Jallow
Over the last twenty years, compelling social, cultural and economic rationales have been floated around to make the case for radical political change, which have successfully erased the toxic political misinformation, inflamed citizens’ passions, and altered the political paradigm in Gambian’s consciousness. But, it wasn’t always easy. Yahya Jammeh’s tyranny has exercised complete control of citizens’ minds, in an endless circle of violence, fear, terror and intimidation, in the process, subdued the nation, and gripped its population in a state of cynicism and despair. In the end, however, Gambians saw Yahya Jammeh for what he is; a walking billboard of reptilian insensitivity and Machiavellian ruthlessness. More recently, Yahya Jammeh’s patently absurd pontification against the evils of tribalism, which shocked Gambians, was a lesson in contradiction, in particular, because he is the very definition and pure embodiment of the dark and dangerous bigotry of tribal preferences. But, the Gambia is rapidly changing society, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the Gambia’s younger generation increasingly perceives the very idea of tribalism as fundamentally appalling, if not, downright, morally degrading. And this year, for the first time in twenty-one years, Gambians, irrespective of tribe, will exercise their patriotic duty to choose their political leader, absent the fear, terror and coercion, which has characterized elections under Yahya Jammeh’s military regime for twenty years. The last two decades have brought out the best in us, but also the very worst, as the relentless struggle for freedom continues to claim citizens’ lives, through the state sanctioned killings, mass incarceration, and citizens exodus to the safety of countries around the globe. But, through it all, one particular group of Gambians has mostly been conspicuously absent from struggle to restore dignity, freedom and the burgeoning democratic experiment, which took shape under the venerable Sir Dawda K Jawara. The majority of the Gambia’s educated class, has, until most recently, manifested shocking resignation to Yahya Jammeh’s cannibalization of the political process, detachment from the slow erosion of human rights, and the passive dismantling of the Gambia’s democratic political system. But with another election season upon the country, the Gambia’s best and brightest; its academics, lawyers, diplomats, bureaucrats, technocrats and other experts, 70% of who, according The World Bank studies, have fled the county, solidly commit to support the newly established Coalition and its unflappable presidential candidate; Adama Barrow.
In any way one dissects the rising political consciousness sweeping across the country; it is evident that a new day has arisen, as the Gambian people, in spectacular demonstration of fearlessness and courage, determine, rather belatedly, to reverse the dangerous moral degradation that has dominated Gambian society and consciousness for two decades. In the broader context, Gambians have reached an irreversible plateau of frustration, and as the citizens, in unison, slouch towards a new dawn of political freedom, an infectious optimism has overcome the Gambian psyche, in a rare cycle of hope and optimism. In the meantime, the political caricature that is the AFPRC, the political wing of the Gambia’s military regime under Yahya Jammeh, has embarked on a vote buying effort in parts of the country. This new development grossly undermines the democratic system, tampers with the legal electoral process and criminally perverts the constitutional system of change of political power in Gambia. This moral decadence exhibited by the Gambia’s military regime, under Yahya Jammeh, has percolated in every sector of Gambian life and politics, creating one gigantic cesspool of corruption and moral depravity. The awareness drought in the Gambia presents citizens with a problematic binary choice, between participating in the electoral process, which legitimizes the unconstitutional behavior of the regime, or boycott the elections and allow the self-serving Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) to singlehandedly legitimize the regime, by participating in its flawed elections. In the end, the choice made jointly by the united opposition, to gamble their collective prestige, in participating in the elections, is paying dividends in a significant and unexpected way, as the country throws its support behind the candidature of the united Coalition. In the same vein, a caricature character, from Baddibou, Njaba Kunda, Bakary Jaiteh, in a recent appearance on GRTS, made veiled threats in support of Yahya Jammeh’s dead political party; the AFPRC. Bakary Jaiteh’s appearance on Yahya Jammeh’s primary propaganda medium, the GRTS, prompted a flurry activities from Baddibou, Njaba Kunda youth, who collectively apologized for Bakary Jaiteh’s paid acting debut on GRTS, as unrepresentative of the views of Baddibou citizens. And as Bakary Jaiteh’s fifteen minutes of fame ends, and he fades into total obscurity, the Gambia’s powerhouse, its educated class, in total support of the concept of political change, throw their weights behind The Coalition, and Adama Barrow. as leader. And for now, this train has left the station, and it can never be derailed.