By Alagie Manneh
Linking the UDP with Mandinkas enabled former president Yahya Jammeh to further his “divide-and-conquer machinations”, claimed the book The Dictator is US.
Written by Alagie Saidy-Barrow, a former director of research and investigations at the truth commission, the 323-page book chronicled interviews and testimonies of witnesses and state representatives. It also explained in detail the initial state of building the TRRC research and investigations unit including probing a wide range of incidents like the April 10-11 student protests, killing of West African migrants, the former president’s claim to cure incurable diseases amongst a host of other issues.
Commenting on the United Democratic Party, Mr Barrow wrote that the linking of the party with Mandinkas allowed Jammeh to form “a bloc of anti-Mandinka supporters who would despise anything and everything about the UDP”.
“By extension, these supporters also despised the Mandinkas since Jammeh had effectively convinced them that the UDP was not a genuine political party but a club of ethnic ideologues. By linking the UDP with Mandinkas (the enemies) on one side, and casting everyone else the (patriots) on the other side, abuse against UDP members was seen by many to be “UDP problems”. Confronting the two “enemies” together allowed Jammeh to proverbially kill two birds with one stone,” the author wrote.
But he said the UDP, in one way or another, had helped Jammeh solidify those UDP-Mandinka narratives.
“Whether a classic case of labelling theory or a factual case of some individuals identifying themselves with the UDP because they were Mandinkas, it must be pointed out that some UDP supporters, unwittingly or otherwise, helped reinforce Jammeh’s UDP-Mandinka narrative. Some UDP supporters uttered statements implying that The Gambia belonged to Mandinkas for constituting the majority and some made statements based on autochthonous sentiments which Yahya generalised to reinforce his claim that “Mandinkas think they own this country”.
The Dictator is US was launched last Friday at a well-attended event held at the Ebunjan Theatre in Kanifing. Speakers paid tribute to Mr Barrow’s compelling book, and said that it is an enlightenment for anyone who wishes to understand how a dictatorship is brought about and sustained.
The author said the proceeds of the sale of the book will be given to victims of Yahya Jammeh.