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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Inter…not?

What is wrong with the internet in The Gambia? How will it be possible to develop a country that in many areas is so far behind other African countries, if the internet suddenly shuts down – even for a whole day? It is hard enough for national companies to deal with the problem, so if we wish for international companies to settle down in The Gambia we can forget that thought until that problem is solved. We would, for example, be able to persuade international companies to outsource their business to The Gambia, but that is impossible as long as no one can trust the internet to function 24/7. The lack of functioning Internet is not the only problem, we also have the issue with the electricity of which the Internet is depending.

Most modern activities in schools, companies, hospitals, scientific research, banking, journalism, newspapers, publicists, shops that order their stock online – the list can go on forever – are depending on these two things; electrictity and Internet. Without these they will not be able to keep stock, control income and expences, keep their accounts in check, pay salaries online, registrate grades and examination files, keep records of patients, their illnesses and treatments, keeping patients alive with an inhalator or a heart monitor and so on. So much development has changed the world, but we are behind in The Gambia.

Yahya Jammeh wasn’t interested in anything but himself and his greed. He didn’t care about his people, or should I say – he didn’t care FOR his people. He and his allies didn’t want and allow any transparency through the Internet, because then it would have been more obvious to the world what was going on in The Gambia. As long as you don’t keep records on things that are happening, and you intimidate people enough to make them fear for their lives if they speak out, you can get away with a lot. It is easy to blame Yahya Jammeh for everything that happened during his 22 years in power, but he wasn’t alone. Too many gained on his activities, and unfortunately too many of his allies are still in power.

As long as all the back patters are allowed to stay near the food pots of president Barrow, they will keep on getting fat on your expence. Habits are not easy to change, especially bad habits, and even moreso if there is no will to change anything because you gain from it. Status quo (=unchanged conditions) is always the easiest state of mind. You keep on doing what you always have done as long as no one is ordering you to change your behaviour or your actions. As our leaders are born and raised in The Gambia, they are also used to the system and have learned how to use it for their own benefit. They know that not many people question them and their actions in the open. People have a certain respect for people in power. People in power know that and use it as long as it is possible. It is like a perpetuous circle that goes around and around forever.

What we need in The Gambia is people who have the ability to think independently, and who have a vision for their country and its development. What we need to learn is not to vote for a party that is based on a certain person, but to vote for a party that has a vision and a strong manifesto. If we build all our hope on one person, everything will stay or fall with that person. None of us have any guarantees on how long we will live, but a political party can live forever if it has a strong manifesto. It must be built on solid ground and have good people surrounding the leader of the party. These advisors must be skilled enough to assist the leader and even be able to step in if the leader for some reason must step back.

We must learn to vote with our intellects instead of by habit or because the leader of a certain party is a distant relative. We see people crowding at political rallies, wearing a T-shirt with the party name and symbol that is trying to convince people to vote for them. At the next rally, in the same town, you will get the same crowd of people wearing a new T-shirt with a new party name and symbol. It’s great to get free t-shirts and free food at the rally, but we can’t trust the results of the rallies until the votes are counted at the election day. The political party that has the best economy is able to hold the best show, but should we trust them? We need to see what is behind the show and how much they actually intend to change.

President Barrow was elected to president for a coalition government. He promised to stay for three years and then let the people decide if he should remain the president or not. This promise was not kept and when people from the Three years Jotna movement demonstrated, they were punished, intimidated and imprisoned. Is this something that should be allowed in a democracy? No, this is the perpetual wheel since the era of Jammeh that keeps on rolling over people. President Barrow promised transparency and we all know that this promise hasn’t been kept. Ok, Barrow doesn’t seem to order someone to switch off the internet as Jammeh did – or? Aren’t you suspicious, not even a little bit?

It is good to show people respect, but the president is just a man, like all other men in The Gambia. Those who are close to him, in the mighty skies of power, are common people – just like you. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by their show, look behind the curtain and see what is going on there. How was president Barrow able to gather more than one million dalasi to pay for the registration fee of his own party? Do you think he took that from his own bank account? Doesn’t it give you some strange signals that an elected president, who is supposed to serve his country, suddenly started his own party?

Aren’t you questioning the fact that he is more focused on his own agenda and the coming election, instead of serving his country? Do you really believe that he will do things differently, and better, if he gets re-elected? He has had almost five years to change The Gambia for the better, and not many things have improved. Face the facts instead of getting blinded by the show and the oldfashioned respect for a leader of the country.

The Gambia needs development but we still live in the backwaters of other countries. Status quo is convenient but also a sign of laziness. If you want life to become better and things to improve you need to work for it. Go out and vote, but make sure that you know what and who you are voting for.

We have a lot of people who live in the diaspora, who work hard to help their families to survive in The Gambia. Diasporans want to vote too, but as long as they don’t have the ability to do that online, they get the signals that only their money matter but not themselves. This is not fair, and that could so easily have been changed. Our current leaders gain on status quo, how long will you allow them to do that?

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