By Mathew K Jallow
The needless gratuitous assaults, in reaction to diaspora responses to the political nightmare of the last four weeks, raise the concerns of a baffled dissident movement. Halifa Sallah’s frequent snipes at the diaspora movement are counter-intuitive and unnecessary, considering the unwritten compact that binds Mr Sallah’s political organization with the dissident movement. The common objectives that the two protagonist share, makes Mr Sallah’s reiterate tirades at once, both, substantively nonsensical and strategically incomprehensible; and embarrassingly so too, might I add. Mr Sallah’s attempts, at trivializing diaspora efforts, breach an article of faith, and calls into question the prudence of his verbal aggression. It is the opinion of the dissident movement that the objectives the diaspora shares with Halifa Sallah’s political party, far outweighs the divergence of their opinions. Yet, his strident opposition to anything the diaspora does is intermittently expressed in his counter-positioning interjections in diaspora affairs, as he ceaselessly seeks to undermine the dissident movement’s inimitable successes in bringing Yahya Jammeh down on his knees, and in turning his regime into an international political pariah. The incomprehensible absurdity of the statements that Mr Sallah and Sidia Jatta have made against the diaspora movement, at various points in time, reflects their false perceptions of superior understanding of the challenges that Gambia faces. Besides, the pedestrian rants that the PDOIS duo have intermittently aimed at the dissident diaspora, carry a tinge of condescension, but also of doubt about PDOIS’s readiness to pursue the shared interests in bringing about political change. As indicated, this is not the first time Halifa Sallah has taken a swipe at the dissident movement, and it may not be his last either, but while there is justifiable derision over his nauseating dismissal of the diaspora movement’s political efforts, there is, nonetheless, also a preponderating interest in establishing working relations with his Socialist outfit, in pursuance of common ground in the effort to rescue Gambia from the precipice of political catastrophe.
Clearly, throwing darts at the diaspora liberation struggle is a favorite pastime of Mr Sallah, but the vast majority of dissidents cannot be manipulated and molded into PDOIS’s image, the way many gullible young men have succumbed to his organization’s ensnaring. And by dragging the diaspora movement through the proverbial mud-pit, PDOIS will not and never will succeed in casting doubt over the achievements of the diaspora movement. What Mr Sallah will succeed in doing is to spawn widespread skepticism about PDOIS’s true commitment to political change. Over the last decade, PDOIS’s standing among the diaspora has stumbled precipitously, and each time the organization attempts the folly of swimming against the tide, and against the judgment of the Gambian people, its popularity has slid further down into political oblivion. In the last few election cycles, PDOIS rushed into the business of mapping out and articulating an opposition strategy; almost requiring other political parties to model their programs after its prototype, as if PDOIS can dictate what other political parties choose to do administratively. PDOIS’s gimmicks often animate other political parties to dig in their heels and refuse to play ball, in an apparent show of contempt for PDOIS’s tendency of dictating the agenda. By falsely claiming the reservoir of intellect and ideas for all other political parties, PDOIS has, over the years, only succeeded in solidifying opposition to its inclination to put itself ahead of the pack. The pooling together of diverse ideas in the construction of a framework in which every political party can claim ownership, is the most effective way of creating cooperation and willing partnerships; not coercion. The aberration of directly or even subliminally assuming superiority of knowledge, once so deeply ingrained in Gambia’s academic psyche, back in the 1970s, is out of fashion in an era of mass university education. In this computer age, this age of instantaneous messaging and information glut, PDOIS will benefit greatly from reforming its primitive ideological bend, but also its archaic worldview.
The way Mr Sallah and Sidia Jatta have tediously tried to discredit the work of the diaspora, is the least if their worries. Still looming large and overshadowing everything else in Gambia, the case of UDP’s Hon Ousainou Darboe and other UDP party stalwarts, whose murder, rape and detention continues to make headlines in far corners of the globe; UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among many others. This issue of dire political consequences has sucked the energy out of everything else in the country, willingly or unwillingly, as the international community watches and waits to see what the Gambian people do next. This egregious political violence in Gambia has constitutional ramifications, but even as other international institutions struggle to grabble with the enormity of the political violence in the country, Gambia’s political party leaders do not appear bothered by the ongoing injustice against one of their own; perhaps even accepting the unfolding political drama against UDP as the norm. And at a critical time when Gambians are focused on the UDP tragedy, PDOIS, in its mindless fixation with elections, has the nerve and guts to try to deflect attention from the overarching political issue of the moment; the unconditional release of the UDP captives, and release of Solo Sandeng’s body to his family. Also conspicuously absent from the UDP tragedy are the leaders of the PPP, Omar A Jallow (OJ) and NRP’s Hamat Bah. So far, we heard their hyperventilated blusters and long tales of threatening braggadocio, but absolutely nothing else. Gambia’s wimps, for political leaders, have grown comfortable with Yahya Jammeh’s killings, rapes, public executions and looting of the national coffers, and will not lift a finger in protest. For now, depriving UDP of its constitutional rights to protest must remain the centerpiece of the political discourse at this material time, and while the diaspora’s efforts match the gravity of the situation, party leaders accept the simmering political tensions, as just another day in Gambian politics. And despite the handcrafted outrage of the opposition leaders, and their spectacular theatrics in front of the cameras, they each betrays a sickening lack of moral courage. As Ousainou Darboe sits in jail, abandoned by other party leaders, he ought to be thinking exactly what I am thinking right now; that the other so-called party leaders are merely a bunch of goddam wussies.