By Madi Jobarteh
The decision by Pres. Barrow to dispatch his Vice President to the family of former Despot to pay respects to the departed soul of Asombi Bojang is indeed magnanimous. The decision has reflected that indeed the President and his Vice did not only recognise the supremacy of the Gambia but also value the sociocultural unity and oneness of our people as well elucidated by Ousainu Darboe. Above all the gesture demonstrates a high level of political maturity that recognises that after all Yahya Jammeh is a former president, unfortunately.
This visit brings to memory the refusal by Yahya Jammeh to allow the bodies of the late Buba Baldeh and Kukoi Samba Sanyang to be brought to their homes for burial. Furthermore, one cannot, of course, forget the systematic abuse of human rights perpetrated by the Jammeh regime for which Ousainu Darboe and several members of this Government were direct victims. Yet in view of such stark history and experience, the Barrow Government still contained themselves to grieve with Yahya Jammeh in his moment of affliction thereby celebrating humanity and all of its sacred values!
The lessons of this visit are therefore immense, both for Yahya Jammeh and his APRC members as well as for Pres. Barrow and the entire Gambian population.
In the first place the visit should prick Yahya Jammeh’s conscience to recognise the value of human life and the purpose of leadership. For 22 years Yahya Jammeh used his power as a leader to destroy human lives as if he was the giver and taker of human life. But just like his mother, he himself and all human beings shall die one day such that every human being must therefore recognise the sanctity of life to be protected at all times.
The gesture by Barrow should now teach Yahya Jammeh that a leader is merely a comforter among other noble functions. Today Yahya Jammeh is highly aggrieved, yet Barrow did not abandon him but came to his side to console him and pray for his mother. But years ago, Yahya Jammeh used his position as a leader to inflict such much pain and misery on other people’s mothers, fathers and children with impunity.
Indeed, if Yahya Jammeh has conscience and is honest to himself and is genuine to his claim that he believed in none other than Allah, this is the time for Yahya Jammeh to repent. This gesture by Barrow should humble down Yahya Jammeh to seek forgiveness from Gambians while he is alive. He should have seen that while his mother died in a foreign land because of his own bad actions as a leader, yet the present leaders of the Gambia came to his side to grieve with him.
The incident is an opportunity for Yahya Jammeh to reform himself. He should ask himself why his mother would die in faraway Equatorial Guinea and not somewhere in the Gambia such as Kotu or Kanilai or Bujinga. I am sure the late Asombi was not happy to live in Equatorial Guinea much more to die there. But because of the bad leadership and criminality of Yahya Jammeh he has succeeded in nothing other than victimise his own mother in life and in death.
This unfortunate incident should tell Yahya Jammeh that he is just a mere mortal man. The power he had claimed as a president was indeed the power of the people, which if taken away by the people, he becomes just any ordinary man who cannot do all for himself.
This is therefore the lesson that Barrow must also learn. This incident should teach Barrow that the reasons that took Yahya Jammeh to a faraway land with his mother can also take him, Barrow to even a farther away land if he follows in the footsteps of Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow must learn from this incident that being president is a service to your people. It is a position of honour and privilege for which one must become a true comforter, unifier and peacemaker for your society. It is a position that calls for one to be a true servant and protector of the rights and dignity of your fellow citizens. It is not a position of pomposity, abuse and self-aggrandizement.
If there are any lessons to learn, Barrow has the life of Yahya Jammeh to study because Yahya Jammeh has shown the world what a president should be or should not be. Hence Barrow must not only bask in the commendations that will follow his magnanimous gesture but must learn from this experience to realise that to be a president is to be humble, honest and responsible. To be a president is to be everything that was not Yahya Jammeh.
To the members of the APRC, this unfortunate incident should be a lesson to them too to stop acting as if Yahya Jammeh and APRC were great. The demise of Asombi in a faraway land is a direct indictment of not only Yahya Jammeh but each and every APRC member and the party as a whole. It shows that this party never protected the best interest of the country such that its founder had to flee the country only to have his mother die in a foreign land.
Hence members of APRC must humble themselves and seek forgiveness from Gambians. They must remember that while they received the current government leaders in their moment of grief, some years ago their own party leader had refused other deceased Gambians to return home. Back then APRC did not advise Yahya Jammeh that such a decision was wrong, but they lived and rejoiced with it. But today they are expecting to receive the body of the mother of that tyrant because the current Government has agreed to allow the deceased to return home.
We hope the leaders of APRC will henceforth exercise humility, honesty and remorse at the brutal manner their party and leader misruled the Gambia. I hope they will emerge from denial and insensitivity but to recognise the pain and misery that the APRC Government inflicted on Gambians. The death of Asombi and the expression of condolence by the current Government must be enough lessons for them to understand that when you lead you must lead with justice and compassion.