The charge has been made – repeatedly – that Gambians are docile. Perhaps that is what led to us having what we had for so long. But, December came and Gambians showed that they had had enough! They showed that they didn’t want to have even another year of the past twenty-two years. They came together and ousted dictatorship.
Then came the struggle for democracy. They are now learning that, like change, democracy is not an event but a process, a thorny one even. The perennial problem of energy continues to haunt Gambians and the hitherto ‘docile’ youth sought to do something about it. A movement dubbed #OccupyWestfield emerged. They expressed the intention to demonstrate against the erratic power supply.
Citing security concerns, the police denied them permit to hold their demonstration. Interestingly, another group of protesters had also planned to organize an opposing protest. All of this back and forth was perhaps the reason the police saw fit to deny them the issuance of a permit.
What is interesting though is that the government deemed the protesters genuine enough to have a sit-down with them. The minister of the Interior, the head of NAWEC, (the parastatal at the epicenter of all this), and other high ranking functionaries met with the leadership of the #OccupyWestfield movement to discuss issues. The meeting, though productive according to reports, did not offer a conclusive solution to the problem.
It is reported that the government functionaries will again meet with the leadership of the #OccupyWestfield movement on Wednesday to continue with the talks. Whether that meeting brokers a deal or not, there is already a winner – democracy!
Our nascent democracy is crawling, walking. Will it run?