With Alhassan Darboe
The Gambia, our homeland’s revolution, and liberation from 22 years of Yahya Jammeh dictatorship is farcical and nothing less than a major pseudo-event. In communication and media philosophy, a pseudo-event is a deliberate and elaborate creation of perception of reality where reality is indeed nonexistent. In a nutshell, it is faking it to look legitimate which is what our government under Adama Barrow is doing to mask its legitimacy, change and development.
Take a mental detour with me to a time and place in The Gambia2017when Barrow was ushered in by hopeful and now hopeless Gambians to a global celebration of a so-called revolution. Many Gambians voted and died for a change that is still quite never a change. A year is too far away andfour years too deep into a five-year presidential term for Gambians to wait for real change in the 2021 elections. Saul Alinsky in his book, Rules for Radicals,captured the state of dysfunction in our land. He observed that there can be “no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future”. We need a revolution for real change NOW. Here are five WHYs we need a revolution now. Not yesterday,today, or tomorrow but NOW!
Poor healthcare and too many avoidable deaths
I was moved to tears as Pa Modou Bojang of Home Digital FM narrated the death of a young Gambian girl, Kaddyjatou Trawally, who was suffering from kidney disease and unfortunately her promising life was tragically cut short thanks to poor health care and the indifference of our leaders to the life of an average sick Gambian. When Barrow came to power, our healthcare was a mess after years of neglect under both Jawara and Jammeh. He has gone on to appoint two ministers of health and yet our health care system continues to be a death mill as we pay lip service to it. People are dying cheaply and avoidably. The Gambia’s current minister of health who interestingly drew praise for his competence is a failure as a minister and a guardian of our health care system. If The Gambia still had to send most of her seriously sick citizens to Senegal, India and Turkey,then Minister Samateh is a major failure and needs to make way for a minister who will institute and see an end to too many young, avoidable deaths in our country.
President Adama Barrow and his government are the very personification of incompetent leadership on the African continent. AsThe Gambia slides into executive anarchy and kakistocracy, our government moves from one disaster to another without ever taking a minute to sit down and reflect on better ways to really serve the very Gambians they pretend to work for. Since coming to office, Sierra Leonean president, Julius Mada Bio, has set his eyes on developing and enhancing the human capital of Sierra Leone by inviting educated Sierra Leone abroad to come and serve their nation. Sierra Leone’s super minister of basic and secondary education, David Moinina Sengeh, is a PhD graduate from MIT and has made major strides in making Sierra Leone a hub for technological development and education. What did Barrow do in The Gambia since coming to power? Please don’t take my words for it, check his incompetent ministers and advisers, and thenlike a tweeting bird, tell me about the confusion, incompetence, and pandemonium you see.
Financial gluttony and economic mismanagement
Some time back in March 2019, the Janneh Commission after two years of sittings, over 50 million dalasis in expenses of taxpayers’ money submitted the report to Barrow. The commission’s report indicted the current minister of Finance Mambury Njie, Alagie Ceesay, chief protocol to the president among many notables in Adama Barrow’s government. Instead of implementing the recommendations of the commission, he disagreed with some of its findings and went on to implement it selectively while surrounding himself with the very people who were indicted for helping Jammeh pilfer our resources. What a very tragic and wasteful way to spend our taxpayers’ money. Interestingly, Jammeh’s seized properties were secretly sold between cronies and Banjul mafia for far less than the fraction of what they are really worth. And guess what, a court ruling has rendered the sale of Jammeh’s properties and the Janneh Commission recommendations unenforceable for now. Fire on the mountain but this is a topic for another day.
Old wine in a new bottle
Change is good they say but transformation is even better. And what did our clueless and mild intellectually retarded president do with our change? He changed or revolution into a regret. We have regretted and he used our change to put over us lords we voted to change. No system change, he killed our coalition and the principles of our coalition. He will go on to recycle former Jammeh enablers to help him master the ways of his predecessor. Jammeh’s men are running the state one more time. George Orwell’s timeless Animal Farm classic captured it thus: “Nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.”
Barrow upon arrival at the seat of power committed a great wrong. Instead of hiring advisers from The Gambia’s pool of highly educated and respected experts, he went on to hire as presidential and government advisers the brainless and clueless quintet of Dembo ‘By-Force’ Bojang, Siaka Jatta, Dou Sanno, Henry Gomez and Saihou Mballow as a political compensation for whatever they did for him. These quintet do not even know the terms of references of their employment. They have nothing to offer and that’s one reason they keep verbally assaulting anyone critical of Barrow and our government. In their cluelessness, they didn’t know it is not their job to defend Barrow against political opponents but to advise him on policies. They are failing unquantifiably because they have no education or governance experience to offer.
Disappearing opportunities for the youth
Youths make about sixty percent of Gambian population, yet our country has nothing to offer them than a failing country with no decent jobs. The few that can manage decent government jobs earn less than US$300 a month which is never enough to sustain them and their many poor dependent families. No wonder many Gambians are still dying in 2020 in fruitless efforts to make it to Europe for better life and opportunities while our president spend millions building mansions and NDP offices all over the country. For The Gambia, it is Jammeh 2.0 and the only difference is that the headquarters is now in Mankamang Kunda instead of Kanilai.
We need to take to the streets now
Henry David Thoreau, the American transcendentalist philosopher posited: “All men recognise the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable”. The Gambia needs a new, proactive Gambian. A Gambian who will use radical means of fighting for his rights and effecting change.Gambian youths need to pour onto our streets now to call for real reforms now. We want:
· End to endless avoidable deaths and neglect of our healthcare facilities.
· An end to systemic corruption and total system change we voted for.
· An economy that works for the masses, young Gambians and not the few and the privileged.
· Firing of all clueless and incompetent advisers our president pays with our taxes.
· Transparency and end to financial gluttony in our government.
· Massive investment in education, education infrastructure, science, and technology.
· End to the exploitation, destruction of our beaches and resources by Chinese fish meal factories and sand mining companies.
Alhassan Darboe is a Gambian Communication scholar, consultant, and Real Estate businessman. He writes in from his base in USA. He is currently a graduate student at Arizona State University’s Hugh Down School of Human Communication.