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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Letters to the Editor

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Why shouldn’t Kitabu Fatty run for president?

Here is a scenario:

I am going to run for parliament and I will run on three main points which are as follows.

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1- “What does a Gambian parliamentarian do? Actually, I don’t know, but vote for me and I’ll tell you”

2- “It can’t get any worse, vote Mmajiki

3- “If elected I promise to help all Gambian families… especially mine”

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Now imagine if Mmajiki, who is using the slogans above, is taken to court by the very honorable Gambian parliamentarians because they claim Mmajiki is “illiterate” and they feel he’s disrespecting parliament. Now imagine if this “clownish” Mmajiki actually secures the most votes than any parliamentary  representative in the history of Gambian elections. You think it’s impossible? Well, it is possible because this exact scenario played out in Brazil. Needless to say, the candidate is not Mmajiki, but Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva whose stage name is Tiririca. Tiririca, like our own Kitabu Fatty, is a comedian. In 2010, Tiririca actually campaigned in clown outfits and used the crazy slogans like the ones above to show how politics actually worked. Having been reelected in 2014, he would go on to say that he is too “embarrassed” by his fellow congressmen saying that “We are well paid to work, but only eight of 513 actually show up here often. I am one of those eight and I am a clown.” Why am I sharing this?

I am sharing to say that in the end, one doesn’t have to have any programs or policies to contest elections and win. The truth of the matter is, in The Gambia, as it is in many countries, people vote for people they can relate to the most and where politics of personality dominates, people vote based on the personality they can relate to the most. And speaking of programs and policies, do we develop party manifestos to sell to the electorate or do we develop them to just say we have a manifesto? I ask because I’m wondering how many of our voters have access to these manifestos. Or are these manifestos and party programs also distributed in languages that our people are more familiar with? But back to the reason for this post. 

I saw some people complaining that Kitabu Fatty should not contest for the presidency. That he can’t be serious. I guess they just don’t think highly enough of him and few things hurt me as much as seeing people tell others that they cannot be something simply because of subjective standard. When Tiririca also started out, many were against his candidacy and thought he was belittling their “parliament”. You would think that the members of parliament or in our case, the presidency is reserved for the glorified souls among us. One of the brainwashed commenters said Kitabu cannot even produce a manifesto. I saw another person’s comment claiming we don’t need another president that cannot read or write. You’d think that those who can read and write in colonial script have actually advanced us! Sometimes I cannot help but look around me and wonder yen nyu Janga yi, follen toch!!!

Instead of focusing on Kitabu, I think the focus should be on the efficacy of the presidency and it’s attendant powers. It hasn’t occurred to us that you cannot give someone so much unchecked power over yourself and then turn around and claim they should be your servant. It hasn’t occurred to us that you can’t hire someone to work for you, pay them far more than anyone else with all kinds of benefits, hardly ever audit them and expect others not to want to work for you too. What does Adama Barrow and Yahya Jammeh have that Kitabu does not? At least Kitabu made a name for himself in three different countries. He may not be your model presidential candidate but I think it’s unfair to go after Kitabu and spare the others running for president! If status or “education” is what your criteria for who runs for president is based on, then you probably need far more help than Kitabu.

Kitabu, I don’t know you from Adam but if you ever see this message,  I wish you all the best and as you prepare for your first debate, I’ll be here if you want some help in preparing. I’ll be more than happy to help you in any way I can. And that’s a serious promise. Don’t let anyone make you feel as if you’re not good enough. They have nothing on you. Tiririca did it in Brazil and you can do it in The Gambia. It’s not like things can get any worse!

Alagie Saidy-Barrow


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