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City of Banjul
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

About what really matters to all of us…Politics!

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With Rohey Samba

Often it is said that there is no use crying over spilled milk. In the realm of our existence nothing can be unsaid, even where some things can be undone. The hypocrisy of knowing expounds on the maxim but little does it do to deflated egos…

Ok. I am being ambiguous. I know. But let me land my Ghanaian colleagues would inject when they are being overtly verbose. So I take the same liberties today and tell you to let me land dear reader.
I don’t think we are unsure about things that matter, such as politics. The citizens of every country, including our beloved Gambia are pretty clear about the things they want. At least for themselves.
Implicit in their uncertainty in dealing with politics are two fears: One, that politics is a waste of time as indeed this is what I told my cousin when my father was first cited as running for Mayor of Banjul late last year; and two, politicians are frauds.

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It is common knowledge in my family that I don’t vote. Or I have not voted for a very long time now. This is not because I think I am better than anyone of the politicians vying for political positions. I applaud their confidence and wish them well…

Correct me if I am wrong, but I just don’t think however, that confidence is all that is needed to run for public office. Where is the calling? What voice do you bring to the policy debates that will set the agenda for development of the communities and the wider nation?
As a member of a political family, I saw first hand the perils of politics growing up. Not only does it turn political leaders into sponges to absorb the wet appetites of people for exploiting them, but it also turns politicians into bespectacled people, charming enough yet dangerous in their brazen attitudes to maintain their honored positions at all cost by their sheer efforts at crowd-pleasing.

This Tuesday in Banjul, on nomination day for the mayoral positions, a teenager came up to me and boldly said, ‘if you want me to vote for your candidate, you must drop some cash.’ I was speechless. I had many things to tell the young man to educate him about elections and so forth, but he took the wind out of my sails by his utter brazenness. Lols!
During the Jammeh era, politics in The Gambia became a strange thing. Something that broke, half-educated and sometimes merely popular people delved into in order to resuscitate their non-existent careers. A sort of lifeline to new possibilities and perhaps fame…

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Really, many were the puny that had fallen under Babili’s spell of the rock n roll adage, ‘live fast, die young’. So of course, acute observers of Gambian politics would concur with me in these words that are intended to be brutal that, ‘The Gambia was a jolly country, run by second rate jokesters who shared in its fun.’
Naturally, I am indicting the political echelon and by extension the entire nation-state for cultural insularity, economic complacency and reliance on political stooges to get us nowhere…for the past years since we gained our independence.

Though attitudes are slowly changing, after the upheaval of the December 1st, 2016 election and so, this impatient, transformative decade must begin with the serious politics of electing serious politicians in the opening sentence of the next chapter in Gambian politics. This is what the new political dispensation is all about.

Forget about women empowerment, youth unemployment; The Gambia’s revolution in the next decade is in politics. A broader understanding of politics, coming from a political novice albeit an engaged revolutionary as I consider myself, is that politics is everything that matters to us.
Now, from this open-ended definition, we can move on… I will finally land.

Without feigning to be neutral and unmotivated by nepotism, which is hard to justify at this moment in time, I vouch for my uncle, Adama Samba who is running for mayor of Banjul in this mayoral elections for all that he is. And while we are at it, I ask myself, what fresh honor for Adama Samba, the man who raised me and made me all that I am today?
With more than fifty namesakes, ‘Tormaas’ and a retinue of good deeds done in the service of people irrespective of whether they are family or not, this is a man who serving the public is a nuanced calling that transcends politics. Thus, it is little wonder that two former mayors of Banjul; Honorable Pa Sallah Jeng, a former Independent contestant of the seat and Honorable Samba Faal, former A.P.R.C. candidate are staunchly backing him in these upcoming mayoral election contests.

Coming from a political family, as indeed he is the son of I.B.A Kelepha Samba, Adama Samba remained true to his pedigree. But he does not carry the entitlement of being son of a former mayor, minister of state and president of a ruling party in power for thirty years, i.e. Kelepha Samba. Adama Samba is natural in so far as politics in The Gambia is concerned.

Although he does not possess the razzmatazz of contesting under the wing a large political party, nor the budgets of one behind a ruling party, he has held an array of positions in public service including as Market manager of the Albert market in Banjul and Deputy Mayor of Banjul, which experiences give him an edge to exert his political influence in the school of political thought that crosses major party lines. Something that The ‘new’ Gambia desperately needs to thwart its political philistinism and provincialism among others.
In all of the positions this distinguished man has held, he has proven his tenacity by showing results and has made ripples in his relationships with the people he worked with and the wider community, resulting in his numerous namesakes, the benefactors of which ranged from sons of maids, watchmen, carpenters, co-workers, neighbors, fitters and more so family.

As his foster child, him being elder brother of my biological father, Momar Samba, I have always held Adama, as we all call him including his own kids, in high regard. He is the kindest, politest and most disciplined father/uncle any child can ask for. We never lacked anything growing up.
Even though he has never raised his hand or his voice on any one of us, his own biological daughter, Ya Fatou Samba, my cousin of the same age, and I, his larger-than-life presence was instruction enough.
He treated everybody equally. He did not show any favoritism whatsoever. You would not know who was his child and who was not his. During Eid festivals, we wore the same clothes as the servants working in the household. He was that sort of man.

But above all else, Adama raised us to be respectable young women. No mini skirts. Prayers on time. Studies as required. And house chores as needed. He made us complete women. Strong, independent, all-round women who could take on any man in the game of life, while still being able to take up a womanly role in marriage life.
In short, Adama was always there for us. Just as he was there for any other member of the family who needed him, and also the wider community of which he is part being the prodigious son of I.B.A. Kelepha Samba, the politician who was dubbed ‘The Man of The People,’ in his time.

Growing up in his household I never saw an ounce of grudge or heard an unkind word come from Adama’s mouth towards anyone including his colleagues, friends and enemies alike. He would not bring down anybody for his own personal advancement.
After retiring from public service, as a government worker, with an acumen that speaks for itself, he rose to the top of his game as a businessman and football icon, being life member and sponsor of Wallidan football club. Thus he galvanizes his leadership in this country by his streak in working with the youth through the universal language of football.

As a former footballer and a football coach, Adama understands firsthand the role of sports in giving hope to young people. Among other things, as a mayoral aspirant, his manifesto speaks to the youth through many youth empowerment projects including football with his firsthand experience of the game.
When he marches in the streets of Banjul canvassing for votes in the upcoming elections, you would often see him flanked by Modou Sowe, Gambia’s first international football referee and George Lobba, renowned Gambian goalkeeper by his side. These Gambian football legends have as much to say about Adama Samba in respect of their footballing careers.

So when I say forget about women empowerment and youth employment, I am alluding to Adama’s proven record in these areas. How he raised me and his relations with women ‘tesitos’ and the market women at Albert Market coming to bear in women empowerment, and his long and yet brilliant career in football speaking to youth employment among others.
In conclusion: Perhaps no Gambian outside public office has had greater influence inside it than Adama Samba, which is why I vouch for him as the best mayoral aspirant The Gambia has ever produced. This is by virtue of his education as a Masters Degree holder, his experience on the job and his mastery of human relations.

Our experience with the 2016 US election of Donald Trump shows that the most qualified candidate does not always get elected in the right position due to complacency, ignorance and in the case of our part of the world; misplaced loyalties, whether it be to loyalty to clan, political party or based on tribal lines. This is a big tragedy for our society…

Personally, I will not be voting come election day due to mistrust with the old system that saw me not registering for the 2016 election, a deed I sorely regret to date. It would have been my greatest pleasure in the world to cast my vote for Mr. Adama Samba no doubt on May 12th 2018. Yet I register my vote of confidence on this platform…

Aspirant mayor, Mr. Adama Samba, I reiterate is unmatched. He is the quintessential politician whose acumen in public service speaks for itself. An ideal Mayor, he has the right mix of experience, personal traits and education to steer Banjul forward with the slogan ‘Anda Suhali Banjul.’
When he is elected on Election Day, May 12th, new Banjulians would get to know what we his family have known all along, that he is the heir of I.B.A. Kelepha Samba, ‘The Man of The People.’

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