By:Kebba Sanneh, Sweden

JAWARA”Versus” JAMMEH THE CHOSEN “Versus” THE IMPOSEDIt is close to 16 years now, when I left my dear little Gambia for the world wider and more complex than my own little Gambia. Little did I know that it was a farewell that would last for a long time, sixteen good years and counting! I left the Gambia on reasons similar to many others from our dear sweet home, with a dream to return home one day, to serve and be part of the mechanisms that drive our country forward. I belong to the hustling generation simply because we could not dream of earning government scholarships to go further our educations somewhere in the wider world. There were no universities and no qualifications for a scholarship but who you know and where do you come from. Though I was one of the best in my class, if not the best, I was confronted with my origin of being belonging to the poor people of our society, the forgotten peasants in the country side.

My father like many others was a farmer and he would often emphasize the importance of education to me and the reasons as to why I must in fact take school serious. Being a Sanneh, he would jokingly tell me that, the only way Jawara could lead the country was because he was educated, other wise there was no chance for him. For my case he said, “As soon as you could read the scales the cooperatives clerks weighs our groundnuts, you would be considered educated enough and then withdrawn be from the school system”. The fact is I went further than that. What I understood from Dad’s statement was that, they needed someone, perhaps one of their own to help them read the scale for them, so that they get what they believe they should have, for they lost trust in the clerks and almost everyone who is western educated.

This was Jawara’s Gambia, where everyone was eating from everyone else. There was the culture of corruption and bribery. These were publicly accepted and culturally encouraged. It was at least evident in my then Gambia High School, where one sees a clear line between the rich and the poor children. Those close to power were living in another Gambia far from the reality in my little village.  Coming to Gambia high from a village in Sami district, meeting Jawara’s children and other ministers’ children sitting side by side with poor peoples children was not just exciting but a testimony myself as an equal to all, regardless of one’s family background and above all, to beat them in the exams was another reason to convince me further that, many talented country boys and girls are denied of this level play ground of intellectual challenge self development.

I left the Gambia because I had to. I could not stay under a system that left me and many more sons and daughters of innocent country people, who pay tax and realise nothing in return, stranded and hungry, bullied and marginalized. I saw my own classmates being force away from schools because they could not afford the fees when these children were spending more money than the teachers could ever dream of. The Jawara regime embarked on parties that were a mockery to the citizens who placed them in the helm of power. In short they forgot the people and distanced themselves from the call of the masses. What happened was, they dug their own graves but maintain the basic rights of the people, the wheel of Democracy moving and national economy stable and strong. Jawara was the choice of the people and therefore the people could go to bed, even though at times hungry, peaceful and assured of a new dawn with a new hope of making it tomorrow. It is therefore my view that the choice of the people is replaced by the self imposed, and thirteen years on, the reasons that forced me out of the country are becoming the same reasons that is keeping me and many others away from it though the current regime copied the old one in almost all forms of squander and recklessness, they also added another element to it. This element of torture, disappearances, killings, and senseless murder of journalist Deyda Hydara made me wonder if Gambia under Jammeh could ever become a place for academics and men of principle. Jammeh parties like Jawara except that Jawara did not need planes to attend some nude dancing in Morocco but could join a chattered flight to the Caribbean’s for a two week golf tournament. Jawara would brand his opponents as communist whilst Jammeh would bury them six feet deep. Jawara calls it Tesisto and the dictator calls it Slave labour. Jawara would call for a political dialogue; Jammeh is forcing his opponents into exile. I would like to know if the development of our country can go on without our Educated and highly professional men and women serving other countries whilst Jammeh is calling it Vision 2020. Can some visions be as visionless as Jammeh’s. We must be honest to ourselves and say it as it is; Jammeh failed the Gambia just like Jawara failed us. Jammeh should resign and hand over power to the people. Let the people choose their own leaders. Jammeh could not have been chosen by the people when only a minority of the voters went out to cast their votes in the last general elections.

Dictators like Jammeh needs to be told by our academics that his vision is a failure, that his ways are not working, that he cannot cure Aids/HIV, that is he not the choice of the people, that he should and must produce the disappeared, dead or alive for proper judiciary process or for dignified burial in accordance to their religions and traditions. Even in military combat situations, enemy dead are given proper burial in order to be identified later and the corpses returned to the families. Even the Hezbollah and the Israel army’s fallen combatants are exchanged at some point. Those people were not foreigners but citizens of the republic of the Gambia. Jammeh needs to know that Gambia cannot forget or forgive him for the vast number of unsolved crimes committed in the name of national security, the lynching and the torture taking place in the Gambia today. Dreams and hopes are shattered; families are broken and separated by long term detention of perceived enemies of the state without trial. The Gambia is a small country of one family. We cannot underestimate the anger, the disappointment, the frustration and the betrayal felt by people who lost one or more member to Jammeh’s 13 years of brutal and inconsiderate military styled dictatorship. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our children, to build the Gambia without disregarding our artists, academics, the peasants and all other productive sectors of our country. It is doctors to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic not Jammeh, the lawyers and the judges for the law and order, the Imams to interpret and lead us into prayers not Jammeh. Jammeh must stop making mockery of Islam and the squander of public fun for his endless parties and festivities taking place in his jungle hideout. Life must be cherished and not be cut short for the sake of vanity and self grandiose adventures. It is Responsibility and Maturity, not arrogance and reckless behaviors that take nations forward and prosperous. We hope to see the end to all these muteness and silence that is keeping our people to their knees for the dictator of our dear home land to force them into slave labour in his gardens and on in their own backyards. Respect for the people especially the old, the weak, women and children is a fundamental principle in our culture. Gambians are tired of the insults and the harassments at national level but equally embarrassed by Jammeh’s reckless international policies and his ridiculous claim of “mandated to cure AIDS/HIV”. Absurd and irrational from a high school boy, soon he would claim to be the prophet of the Gambia if not stopped and condemn.

By:Kebba Sanneh


Posted on Monday, July 30, 2007 (Archive on Monday, August 27, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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