By Ousainou Mbenga
Despite the adoption of the word “Occupy” likening their action to “Occupy Wall Street” in the USA, I still maintain my unwavering support and utmost admiration for these young comrades for having the audacity to make DEMANDS of the regime for the basic need of water and electricity. This service to provide water and electricity is not free as it has been alleged to be free in Kanilai during Jammeh’s reign of terror.
The Gambian people pay for the services, therefore NAWEC is obligated to provide these services. An ant-hill issue was unnecessarily elevated to the height of Mount Kilimanjaro by the “guardians of the beyond reproach Barrow regime”. This issue could have been resolved amicably without resorting to personal threats and bogus allegations of possible violence. Where is the evidence of the “impending violence” and the people who were to hatch this violence? This “secret society” approach of the current administration only heightens speculations. During this long period of water shortages and power outages, the vast majority of our suffering people complained endlessly with no relief in sight. A protest of any kind against NAWEC’S negligence is justifiable.
All the reactionary attacks against these young comrades seem to have emboldened them to defy the revocation of the permit to protest and assembled at Westfield in a peaceful and disciplined manner. The only potential violence that could have happened on Sunday, November 12, 2018, would have come from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) all dressed in their “uniforms of brutality” attempting to provoke an incident, but the young comrades accomplished their mission and refused to give them the pleasure to repeat the savagery of April 10 and 11 2000, when 14 students were killed, many wounded and maimed for life. The fundamental concern about this matter should have been the conduct of the PIU or the recycled left over thugs that Jammeh sent to spill and drank the blood of the students in 2000. They have a history of violence and brutality not the “Occupy Westfield”.
It is a common practice among neocolonial African regimes never to admit to their political blunders with its very serious social consequences. And, when the masses express their outrage through protest and demonstrations, the “ruling class” is quick to blame “outside agitators” as if the masses, including students are not capable of organizing a peaceful protest. The PPP and AFPRC-APRC regimes both engaged in the “outside agitators” blame game and now the “tactical coalition” government, only eleven months on the “saddles of power” is outdoing its predecessors in the blame game.
It has become an undisputed truth that these young comrades have brains of their own and didn’t need Ous Mbenga, DUGA, others “grown-ups” and “senior citizens”, allegedly, to plan this protest. It is these like-minded “character assassins” that called the students on April 10 and 11, 2000 thugs, rude and without home training.” Some went to the extent of saying they deserved that treatment. The African police, army and “security service” know only how to brutalize the population.
What these “character assassins” fail to realize is that the Gambian masses (students included) are gaining political maturity and will not be intimidated by the meaningless and empty “threats to national security”. In fact, the IGP poses the greatest “national security threat” to the so called “new Gambia”. What are you afraid of? The people who “lifted you on to the saddles of power”? If a mere protest against one of your incompetent institutions rattled you this much to resort to bogus allegations of violence, to deny the issuance of a permit, then you better reprimand your Inspector General of Police (IGP), PIU and all the security forces involved in this unnecessary tension with these young comrades. The intent of this administration is clear. You want to smother the culture of protest, the only last resort the people have to get your attention.
A new day has dawned! With all due respect, those who witnessed the murders of April 10 and 11, 2000, and didn’t protest the brutality, like many others, are stuck in the past 52 years of politics as usual. Politics as usual is rot. It is the main reason why things degenerated to the level we currently find ourselves. Our social conditions have gotten worse with neocolonialism (colonialism in black faces).
You must be willing to embrace REVOLUTION, revolutionary politics at best. Revolution is good, it’s the best thing a slave has against the slave master. The best thing the oppressed have against oppression. Revolution is the only solution to our wretched social conditions. Don’t let anyone scare you about revolution, the forces that control our livelihood through AID, FUNDING and GRANTS know the benefits of revolution. Liberation without social transformation (eradication of poverty and impoverishment) is meaningless. This is the best period to rescue our beloved Gambia from another 52 years of the “cart before the horse” governing. The masses of our people want a radical transformation of our wretched conditions of living. You took a revolutionary step contrary to all the attacks against you. So, don’t step backwards!
All power to the people! African power to the African masses! We will win!