Dark clouds and silver linings

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By Musa Bah

Given the spectacle-turned-fiasco performance of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) in their awards night which has been severely criticized for ‘being biased’ in favour of some media houses; and, for awarding Justice Minister Tambadou and the way the people reacted to it especially on social media, one experiences both bouts of fear and exciting hope in our democratic landscape.

Many citizens view the awarding of Baa Tambadou as a monumental error on the part of the Gambia Press Union as they see that the man hasn’t done anything in recent years to deserve such accolades.

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But many citizens’ grouse is not about Tambadou winning an award or not.

For them, the issue is closer home as they expected that they would be awarded either as individual journalists or their institutions. This debate has even begun to turn discordant as they have started throwing shades at each other.

The truth is that some people blame their lack of being awarded to an incident, long forgotten, which occurred between Sheriff Bojang Jr., the GPU president and one young journalist, Lamin Njie who works for The Fatunetwork. That incident though should have been buried long ago as Sheriff swallowed humble pie and apologized to the young man.

The cliché Gambia no problem should have ensured that that apology was enough to bury the hatchet, so to speak.

However, it seems that it didn’t as Sheriff is said to have even blocked both Fatu Camara, the proprietress of the network and Lamin Njie on Facebook.

It is not clear what the reason was to block them was but it shows that the feathers are still rough in that area.

Would that we had a Good Samaritan who will bring these two vital sides in our media together so that they can iron out this issue once and for all.

It is however unfortunate to note that there are some Gambians who seem to be bitter about that incident still now to an extent of calling for the resignation of Sheriff Bojang Jr.

as the president of The Gambia Press Union as he has done something unbecoming of a GPU president.

Be that as it may, I think the resignation of Sheriff at this point in time will serve little or no purpose at all.

Speaking of the resignation of a president, it must be said that the calls for Ado to step down after the end of the three-year agreement of the Coalition leaders is getting louder and louder.

He appears to get more emboldened every day and keeps chest thumping saying that no one can remove him from office before 2021.

The other side, now having National Assembly Members trumpet their calls, seem surer than ever before.

It’s now a game of wits. A deputy political adviser of the president said that Barrow will serve for fifteen years! Hmm… it’s like a game of deduction in here. First Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara served for thirty years, then Mansa Appai came and served for twenty two years, little more than three quarters of the old man’s tenure and now Barrow is going to serve half of it.

Perhaps the next president will serve seven years… wishful thinking I guess!
Then comes the formation of political parties.

The former National Development Plan (NDP) now turned to the National Development Party… oops! Wait a sec… name change in the offing, courtesy of Lawyer Ousainu Darboe letting the cat out of the bag.

But hey, come on, bring it on! The more the merrier.

I guess that is what was on the mind of former vice president Bakary Bunja Dabo (BB) when he announced the formation of Gambia For All Party (GFAP)… Demba is ok, right? The proliferation of political parties is a sign of the vibrancy of our democracy under the auspices of Ado (give the devil his due…

not saying he is a devil though) and it is a good thing as many citizens will have their voices heard through the choices they make in following one of these parties.

The sexual scandal and the innuendos that followed them rocked the boat in here. They almost tipped the scales on our misogynistic and patriarchal society.

Fatou Jallow ‘Toufah’ launched scathing allegations against former president Yahya Jammeh opening the floodgates of allegations.

Numerous other young ladies (some not so young) made their own allegations against Lawyer Melville who happens to have been an official at our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He has been the subject of at least twenty allegations so far…. Who knows! Perhaps more are in the pipeline. What a mess!
Given the numerous other allegations that surfaced after Miss Jallow made hers to The New York Times and later in The Gambia, the number of other allegations that emerged may have affected her psychologically and emotionally.

Her voice at the #I Am Toufah protest march did not betray any emotional breakdowns. The concern was there but in a telephone conversation with her, I deduced that she is fine. One less worry to contend with.

Coming to the envelope-receiving-National-Assembly-Members who happened to be taken off their feet by the ‘love’ of Ado to swell his camp, the leader of the United Democratic Party (to which they belonged) has challenged them to resign their seats in the National Assembly and test their popularity without the backing of the mighty UDP.

Will they bite or not? My little knowledge of the workings of Gambian politics tells me that they will take a raincheck on that.

Thinking of taking rainchecks I guess Mr Yankuba Touray, former strongman in the AFPRC junta, needs that as he is currently languishing in jail where he is to remain at least until 14th October when his case will be called again.

He sought to hide behind immunity that they had for all actions done under the sanction of ‘official duties’ from 1994.

This immunity however is being challenged by many legal minds in the country. Whether or not he will escape ‘their’ five star hotel is anybody’s guess.

Events at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) are equally interesting. Ndey Tapha-Sosseh, a former president of the Gambia Press Union has accused Dr Mamadou Sangara … oops Tangara, of having made efforts to have her extradited at the time she was in exile in Mali under the orders of Mansa Appai. The current foreign minister has sought to downplay the allegations but many are still calling for his resignation.

Will he resign or not? That is the question many are asking; but, for others, the blame is squarely on Ado who, they say, shouldn’t have appointed him in the first place.

A lot has been said about presidents resigning or not in this piece but there is one president whose resignation is not on the table.

Dr Cherno Umar Barry, president of the Writers’ Association of The Gambia is doing such an excellent job that no one is calling for his head.

He took over from the erstwhile president, Almamy Fanding Taal who did an excellent job and is now steering the ship in the right direction.

With an energetic and enthusiastic SG Modou Lamin Sowe, the association is making headways in striving to revive the reading and writing culture in the Gambia.

It is hoped that with this renewed vigour, the association will bring to light many aspects of issues which are – or were – swept under the proverbial carpet.

On the issue of sweeping things under the carpet, who is trying to cash the cache at GACH? As I said, dark cloud and silver linings.

I just heard thunder and it seems it will rain soon as we need it right now to calm the simmering tensions in the country. For now, I will ask Absa Samba to bring me a bushel of popcorn… and oh, get me an umbrella!

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