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City of Banjul
Saturday, December 2, 2023

Man up to your words!

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With Aisha Jallow

It seems President Barrow has become more insecure for each year he has held his position as the head of state. This head seems confused and the thoughts of how to be taken seriously are spinning around like bugs around a light at night. To man up to one’s words means to demonstrate toughness or courage when faced with a difficult situation. Having the task as a leader of a state comes with difficulties all the time, but that is part of the deal. What did Barrow expect before he became elected? That he should live in luxury at the State House, be driven around in fancy cars, hold a speech now and then and people would applaud afterwards until their hands were bleeding?

Wake up from your dream, Adama Barrow! You need to learn to control your own fear instead of controling others because of your fear. Freedom of expression is a human right and a keystone in a democracy. You are afraid of what people say about you on social media, both journalists and common people, so you have began to hunt them down to silence them. Have you heard about the methods used by your precursor Yahya Jammeh? Do you intend to sharpen your knives and cut the Gambian society down bit by bit, just as Jammeh did? You don’t seem to realize that you hold your position as a president because the Gambian people couldn’t stand Jammeh’s oppressive methods anymore.

Here is a cut from your inaugural address in 2021:

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“In 2016, our objective was to liberate the people from oppression and injustice. It was a call for change, and, indeed, change has come about.

Today, The Gambia of the past has given way to a new democratic Gambia, where every citizen is equal before the law.  

The independence of the Judiciary is unquestionable, and Gambians have confidence in our judicial system. This is what the people fought for, and this is what they have chosen to sustain.”

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Sounds good, doesn’t it, but using representatives of the law as your tool, Mr President, to intimidate and detain people who speak the truth that pains your skin is not equality before the law. The police force is there to maintain the law, not to be your puppets and arrest people just because someone is annoying. Where will it end? Do you intend to build more and larger prisons so there is room for more of those who annoy you? The social media you fear is a mighty tool, and the thing is that the messages are spread all over the world in a split second. Your way of ruling a country like The Gambia will not remain a secret. The case with first intimidating our internationally wellknown and highly respected activist Madi Jobarteh is all over social media and it is not in your favour.

I have read the article Madi had written, and which he was questioned about. I really wonder what there is in this article that made you so upset so you ordered the police to arrest him? It is called an ”invitation”, but every Gambian knows that an invitation from the police is not a social call. By the time Madi Jobarteh was first intimidated at his home, and then later brought to custody, he was seriously ill with pneumonia. He told that to the police officers who came to his home, but empathy is not a word in the vocabulary of an officer on duty, as it seems. They were there because they had been ordered to be there, so I don’t blame the actual officers, but there could have been a discussion of the matter and the ”invitation” could have been postponed until later.

Madi is not a criminal; he doesn’t flee with his tail between his legs like a scared dog. Madi can be extremly annoying, I know that through personal experience, but he is sharp and fair. If the president had some questions about the latest article by Madi Jobarteh, he could have invited him to the State House and asked him about it. Madi would certainly have given the president the answers, but surely not the answers the president wanted to have, and that is the problem. Madi’s sharp brain is able to analyze the situation of our country, he can point out the problems and give solutions for those who are willing to listen. I don’t think that President Barrow has read the named article himself. I think that someone of his trusted minions has read it and then told his own twisted interpretation of the article.

What Madi has written in his latest article is the same things as I have written, repeatedly. Nothing untrue, nothing intimidating, no profanities, only our interpretation of the situation of The Gambia, its president and others who surround him. A weak leader needs to be surrounded by people who are buzzing in his ears so he is unable to hear his own thoughts. They make the right sounds, clap when they are supposed to, smile at his jokes and make sure they are close to the leader in case any goodies will fall from his table for them to catch. A strong leader is able to pick the right advisors who are there to support him and lead him right when he goes astray. A strong leader is able to admit when he is wrong, he is willing to listen to others and he respects their opinions even if he doesn’t always agree with them.

One day, you will not be the president of The Gambia anymore, Adama Barrow. What do you wish that people will say about you then? Ponder that for a while, please.

A wise leader will surround themselve with the right kind of people who act with dignity. People who don’t post insults and profanities on social media. There is a man, who used to tell Madi Jobarteh that he was his inspiration. This man visited Madi at his office at Tango, they spoke, the man listened and discussed important matters with Madi. After the visit was over, Madi paid for his fares so the man could go back home again. This man is now a member of the NPP, he is acting as he is close to the president. That could be enough, but the problem is that if this man wishes to be taken seriously, he should begin to watch his language. He is insulting Ousainu Darboe in a way I have never before experienced.

It doesn’t matter if Baboucarr Bahoum doesn’t agree with Mr Darboe, doesn’t share the visions of the UDP, but he should mind his language and begin to act like an adult. He is dragging down the reputation of the president and the NPP in the mud and it is so thick that they will never become clean again. The level of insults spewed out from this guy’s mouth is enough to make every mother in The Gambia to pick up the largest bar of soap to wash his mouth.

Darboe and Jobarteh are not the only victims of Baboucarr Bahoum’s fury, there are others too and they might not always be strong enough to handle the vicious attacks. Freedom of expression means that we are free to express our opinions, but we must always be aware of our responsibilities. We must never harm anyone, because this harmfull way will lead to disaster. Democracy is a gift, it should be cherished, not taken for granted. Karma is a bitch, as the saying goes. Karma might come and bite both Bahoum and Barrow one day.

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