A Review of Ebrima Ceesay’s Book
By Dr. Abdoulaye Saine

Ebrima Ceesay, The Military and Democratization in The Gambia: 1994-2003,
USA, Canada, UK and Ireland: Trafford Publishing, 2006, $34. 70,
(pp.345).

The academic literature on The Gambia has once more been greatly enriched
by the recent publication of Ebrima CeesayÂ’s book, The Military and
Democratization in The Gambia: 1994-2003, following the recent publication
of Arnold Hughes and David PerfectÂ’s, A Political History of The Gambia,
1916-1994. CeesayÂ’s book takes off precisely where the latter ends to
capture major political developments in The Gambia from the coup in 1994
to 2003.
The Military and Democratization in The Gambia is a lucid and well-written
book that contributes not only to the literature on The Gambia but also
the large Democratic Transitions literature spearheaded by various
“democratization” attempts in Africa and elsewhere in the 1990s and
earlier. Thus, the book straddles two important academic literatures to
account for the causes and aftermath of democratic experiments of this
period and The GambiaÂ’s, specifically.
The first chapter lays out the basic arguments and foundation of the book
as well as the chapters that follow. Chapter two is an important
historical backdrop to pre and post-independence politics of the Gambia,
while chapter three focuses on the historic 1994 coup that ousted Sir
Dawda Jawara, GambiaÂ’s founding president. Chapter four analyzes the
period under military rule (1994-1996), followed by an excellent
discussion of the transition program (1994-1996) back to “civilian” rule
in chapter five. In the sixth and concluding chapter, Ceesay, with great
skill assesses the “democratic” credentials of the APRC regime. He does
this with remarkable objectivity even following his strained relationship
with the military authorities in The Gambia, which ultimately forced him
into exile.
The Military and Democratization in The Gambia: 1994-2003, is a timely
addition, by a young Gambian who already made his mark, first, as a
journalist prior to leaving The Gambia. Undoubtedly, it will remain, for
years to come, a definitive contribution to the growing scholarly
literatures on The Gambia, specifically, and democratic transitions,
generally.
Finally, the recent publication of CeesayÂ’s book as well as Hughes and
PerfectÂ’s are a tremendous boon to Gambian Studies and a fitting tribute
to the University of Birmingham, its Centre for West African Studies, and
Arnold Hughes, who served as the latterÂ’s director for several years.
As director, Hughes supervised the dissertations of Perfect, Ceesay, Fatma
Denton and many other Gambians. The Gambia, Gambians and Gambian Studies
owe much to him, British and other non-Gambian scholars, particularly the
late John Wiseman, for their interest in this once improbable mini-state
and their scholarly contributions.
While Hughes is now retired and still active academically, he nonetheless,
leaves two legacies: first his scholarly contribution to Gambian and
African Studies, and second, and perhaps most important, a cadre of young
Gambian scholars to continue his and the CentreÂ’s tradition of academic
excellence.
For Young and older Gambians alike, The Military and Democratization in
The Gambia: 1994-2003, is a must read. While the book stands solidly on
its own merits, A Political History of The Gambia; 1816-1994, sets the
context to understand and better appreciate the former. I encourage you to
buy and read both.

Posted on Sunday, January 14, 2007 (Archive on Tuesday, January 30, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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