I recently heard a quirky remark from one of The Gambia’s worst prophets of doom grousing about why government officials perpetually advocate for the maintenance of peace and security in the nation over any political, social or economic concern.
The fellow was practically suggesting that it is only the government elite who frequently subscribe to the concept so as to enable their “corrupt practices of filling up their pockets with public funds”.
However, a quick appraisal of his background unveiled an emotionally disturbed ex-convict whose inventory of failures in life now transformed him into a political dissident infatuated with violence as the only means of achieving political change. He is still remembered for his greed and idiocy for leaving his family in the USA on a suicidal insurgency mission aimed at forcefully uprooting former President Jammeh from power on the 30th December 2014.
All was done for a cheap price of US$5,000 from a contract committing him to hand over the government to their sponsor after Jammeh was killed and his government overthrown. The fools came and walked right into an ambush where most of them were slaughtered before loading their weapons. The imbecile ran away with his tail between his legs. Since then, he got convicted in America for his crimes, abandoned his family there and turned into an angry vagabond and parasite.
I think someone should inform this dullard that I am not an elite in this government and have no intention of corruptly filling my pocket with public funds and can attest that the majority of good Gambians are also not by any imaginable measure that bad. Notwithstanding, like all responsible citizens, I will strongly subscribe to the notion of preserving the peace and security of the country above any conceivable agenda.
I wouldn’t therefore be surprised if he is one of the key members or principal organisers stoking up a political insurrection in the country on the 11th of November 2022. In fact that is my primary reason of writing this paper in order to draw the attention of all level-headed citizens to the potential calamity such a protest could spawn to our peace-loving country. It further arouses my curiosity over why the orchestrators decided to hold their demonstration on the special Memorial or Veterans Day of Friday, 11th November 2022? Apparently the date falls on the annual anniversary of remembering all veteran soldiers worldwide who fought and died in World War 1 and 2. But we cannot also forget that Gambian soldiers accused of organising a countercoup against the newly established AFPRC government after the 1994 coup were on Friday, 11th November 1994, summarily executed in large numbers in what was characterised as the most gruesome bloodbath in the army since its establishment in 1984.
In almost all military governments, countercoups which are considered as existential threats to the survival of ruling junta are often treated in that barbaric and unlawful manner to deter future attempts of its kind by prospective plotters. Although it is equally as illegal as in adopting violent means, including military coups, to change a regime.
Hence, unless the organisers of the November protest are already determined to cause unnecessary chaos in the country, I think the scheduled date for the protest is morally and spiritually untenable and should be changed. Yes, I learned that the organisers calling their organisation “The Coalition of Progressive Gambians” have applied for and were denied a permit by the Inspector General of Police to protest on reasons of security considerations; yet still they have accordingly vowed to do it with or without permit. Their chairman, one Mr Seedy Cham is on Gambian newspapers and social media promising to lead the protest, no matter what.
But there again, the country’s past experience of political activists defying security restraints to carry out similar actions on the influence and sponsorship of rascals mainly living abroad tend to always end up against their favour. The “Three Years Jotna” movement and their defiant December 2019 attempt to forcefully change the nation’s political dynamics regardless of all security restraints epitomised the latest failure among several of such political insurrections in The Gambia. Indeed, this one slated for November will, by my deduction, simply turn into another statistics.
I was forwarded a WhatsApp audio yesterday, shared many times, from a concerned Gambian youth swearing to also lead his own group into counter-demonstrating against the November protesters if they dare to come out legally or illegally. The government cannot and shouldn’t allow the situation to decline into that.
I have also casually engaged some government officials about the matter who are indeed worried about the whole prospect but tend to trust the IGP to satisfactorily handle the matter without undesirable incidents. That may perfectly work, but the additional vigilance of identifying and engaging the organisers like Mr Cham rather than ignoring and trivialising their efforts could change minds within the three months ahead. Hopefully the State Intelligence Services are on their toes on this one which is indeed a far cry from “sponsored terrorism through money laundering targeting financial institutions”.
We all wish the IGP will handle the matter satisfactorily without undesirable incidents. Nevertheless, Gambians wishing well for our country should echo their disapproval of the mischievous ploy.
To conclude, I think Mr Cynicism, the ex-convict from America, ought to know why I, in particular, who holds no position in the government to “line my pockets with public money”, strongly believe and espouse the credo of maintaining peace and security in The Gambia over any disruptive political and economic change. That I am neither in any state of desperation or greed nor being blinded by hatefulness to take for granted the beauty and luxury of waking up every morning in good health, moderate prosperity and happy family life; that I continue to enjoy what is best in The Gambia which, of course, will ever remain elusive to the envious, the pessimist, and the vagabond.
There is nothing more amusing than to wake up every morning to a windy, rainy, cold, hot or dusty Gambia and happily jog to the beach for a light exercise, a refreshing swim and a quick meditation while the sea waves pound the shores and the breeze fills my lungs. I can’t remember a single day in the twenty plus years I lived in the USA when the hustling and bustling of life allowed me to, for once, think about going to a beach to leisurely enjoy a short moment there. I would drive by rivers and waterways but only while on serious dollar-chasing obligations to pay bills and feed the family. Cynics may take what we have for granted. I sure don’t.
I can always stroll to a corner street hawker or to the farmers market by the “Traffic Light Junction” to buy a roasted corn and enjoy it from a fresh seasonal harvest. It could be a sweet juicy water melon, ripe-sweet mangoes, tasty oranges and pawpaws, rich avocados or parched groundnuts, boiled or raw, all organic and abundantly available at affordable prices. Why do you think European tourists would work for the whole year only to one day withdraw their savings and spend it on a two-week vacation to the peaceful, secure and naturally romantic Gambia?
Moreover, whereas the Gambia’s Jeremiahs, the prophets of doom, are planning and hoping that this country will be rendered ungovernable in November 2022, we the optimists, continue to be inspired by the thrilling World Cup football tournament kicking off in Qatar on the 21st November 2022. And I don’t plan or wish to go to America, my second home, to watch the games there. It will be at Kotu followed by the celebration of Christmas and new year at as usual the Senegambia area.
Samsudeen Sarr is a former commander of the Gambia National Army, diplomat and author of several books.