Information Power And Not Guns Will
Change Gambia For Better

By Sarjo Bayang

Peace-loving Gambians have been exhausted serious enough that even the softest of hearts now conceive the idea of uprooting military dictatorship by force of arms. That is a talk beyond rumours. Even the government makes this a big issue by the continued arrest of numerous people accused of being associated with thoughts and actions aimed at bringing down the Jammeh regime by the very means it came into being.

Beyond the sandy beaches of coastal Gambia, a new power bloc is being consolidated by force of which the Jammeh misrule of more than a decade will inevitably succumb. That force is not gun power. It is the power of information. Gambians in larger numbers have discovered and embraced the information superhighway in very unprecedented scales. It was part of the old thinking that Gambians have not been public readers. Now with the further advances in the use of Internet not only are Gambians reading what is seen to be in the public domain, there are more people writing than it was traditionally left in the hands of few journalists. The issues that creep up during a wider exchange are both stimulating and progressive. It is that power many believe will change Gambia for better.

The myth about state control of gun power is being diminished. No sitting government will ever spark fire unless they become critically threatened by an external force. Dictators enjoy power more than drunkards enjoy liquor. Left alone the militia in Gambia will never choose going to war. Remember this will mean even the dictator president Yaya Jammeh could not enjoy peace of mind. When there is war, dictators hide in bunkers or some safe place. The reason dictators prefer to shoot and kill suspects is so that the rest of society become scared. No dictator in history ever emerged winner. The occasion of killing countless number of people is no victory in itself. Dictators remain the ultimate victims of their own conflict. First, they land themselves on a high-tension platform of chaos. Before any dictator recovers from war, things would have changed drastic enough that the will of people triumph.

In the Gambia, the power of information is now prevailing over the forces of deceit and gross injustice. Access to information keeps people far closer. Online publications are keeping pace with the information requirements far more than the rate government agencies are capable of misinforming. It was part of things that corrupt and dictatorial regimes designed and bundled misleading information through radio, television, and also by alternative dossiers. Things have now changed for better in the best of public interest. Information can be generated at very fast speed and filtered round the globe until it settles as true or false. This is beyond the control governments and other organised establishments.

Information serves both as a means and also a product of social interplay. Minute-by-minute, waves of information bounce within cyberspace about critically awareness-creating issues. The cost of information in some regards is going lower. That is because information defies the dictates of monopoly. Small instruments like palmtop, laptop, desktop, and mobile, within a person’s reach keeps the world at fingertip.

Why will civilised Gambia choose to use guns and other lethal weapons when the instruments of information are so affordable and assuring to bring about needed change? Any organisation or individual that seeks to see changes in Gambia for the better can contribute by facilitating means of mass communication. Rather than parading rebel soldiers and machineries to invade peaceful Gambia, a radio and television station will equip rest of civil society adequate information to make informed choices. When more Gambians possess laptops, desktops, palmtops, and good working mobile phones, the revolution is best carried with no risk of bloodshed. It is no secret that Gambia’s tiny budget is held up in the purchase of guns and other lethal weapons. That is how low the military regime is thinking. For the rest of civilised Gambia, you can win the battle before it is fought. All you need is a vibrant network of like minds to get progressive information flow.

Gambia’s war on terror is the war to unseat a brutal dictatorship. Because the bulk of civil society is kept perpetually misinformed, a breakthrough is essential. The better informed civil society is the higher any prospects of redemption. Current approaches in mass mobilisation seem to be failing because the political groups refuse to recognise how urgent it is to establish information networks and the enabling atmosphere. All we see and hear is about this or that political group. Little is said or done about people and their right to genuine information. Before a political group strives to rule, people must come first. The current order is one where the political establishments seek to lead by their agenda and expect people to follow without rational critic of alternatives. Get the right information at the right time for the right people and change Gambia for better. An organised civil society sharing organised information will make this change true and lasting.

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