Dear President Adama Barrow,
It’s us again, the Never Again Network, a group of Gambians dedicated to helping our country avoid sliding back into dictatorship and human rights violations that characterized the ousted Jammeh regime. We wrote to you a few weeks ago, and deem it fit to do so again. As Gambian citizens with legitimate access to the leader and government of our country, we think it is important that we communicate our thoughts to you, in a respectful and cordial matter, regarding any issue we consider likely to derail both your status as the president of our country and our country’s evolution into a better and more enlightened and empowered society. So, we shall be writing to you once in a while Sir.
Mr. President, a few days ago we saw a video of a community meeting you had with some of our people somewhere in the provinces. We must admit it was pleasant to see you looking so friendly and relaxed, chatting and laughing with our beloved countrymen and women. Your demeanor was not at all unfriendly or threatening, and you exuded the typical Gambian spirit of good neighborliness. That is how we always want to see you Mr. President – friendly and jovial in conversation with the people. But during that conversation, we also heard you say a few things that made us uneasy because they reminded us of things Yahya Jammeh used to say, albeit not in as friendly a manner as you did.
As you know, Mr. President, our people have a saying that if a big black bird killed your grandparent, you run when you see a big black object. What you said at that meeting was not necessarily threatening at all. However, it made us scratch our heads and ask, why is he saying these things? What is the purpose? The Never Again Network is not ready to take any chances Mr. President, especially regarding utterances by the President of the Republic that could create perhaps unintended but nevertheless unwanted and harmful consequences.
First, we heard you say Mr. President, that your good friend and brother President Macky Sall of Senegal called you, and when you told him you were having a meeting with your people, he said something to the effect that “then you are now like the kings of old” because they met face to face with their people. Taken at face value, this statement was harmless enough, from both Macky Sall and yourself. Macky must have said that to you in jest and he probably didn’t think that you would then narrate the story to the people you were meeting. Certainly, Macky Sall will never dare to sit or stand before Senegalese media and say he was a king of old, or like a king of old. Because he is not, and can never even dream of being a king of old. Neither are you a king of old, Mr. President. You are the elected and legitimate president of a constitutional republic, the Republic of The Gambia. What then was the purpose of your narrating this story to your audience, and by extension the Gambian people? What did you want to achieve? What did you want your audience to think? That you are a king of old and should therefore be treated as such? We hope not, Mr. President, for that would be a very dangerous proposition.
Mr. President, we felt uneasy about that statement because as we all know, Yahya Jammeh was enamored of the idea of becoming king of Gambia. We know that at some point, his power, fortified by the inane promptings of his selfish sycophants, convinced him that he could actually be crowned king of The Gambia. We all also know that he somehow managed to assume and popularize his title of Babili Mansa (the king who built bridges) even though he was never a king and could never, ever become one!
And then, Mr. President. Even as we were scratching our heads and wondering why you would narrate that story to your audience, you said something else that made us even more uneasy because again, it sounded very much like some things Yahya Jammeh used to say. You asked your audience whether they noticed that all three Gambian presidents so far came from the village. And more troubling still, whether they noticed that they all had the names of prophets. Sir Dawda Jawara for the Prophet Dawda (David), Yahya Jammeh for the Prophet Yahya (John) and your good self, Adama Barrow for the Prophet Adama (Adam), the father of all humankind! Many perhaps did not notice the interesting coincidence and were grateful that you brought it to our attention. But beyond gratitude lay head-scratching!
Our question here is, Mr. President, what was your point? What were you trying to achieve by making mention of this name coincidence? What did you want your audience at that meeting, and the wider Gambian community to believe or take away from the fact that all our presidents so far, and especially your good self, are the namesakes of prophets? Are you suggesting that this was a deliberate divine plan by God to make all Gambian presidents the namesakes of His prophets? And if so, what then? Did you want the people to believe that you therefore were some kind of morally superior human being? What was your purpose, Mr. President? We know these are rather uncomfortable questions. But they are questions we ask in good faith as part of our efforts to protect you from the delusional whisperings of power that destroyed Yahya Jammeh, and to protect our country from having to deal with a president who genuinely believes that he is somehow directly connected to the prophets of Gad in ways more than ordinary mortals are!
Mr. President, we all know that Yahya Jammeh’s power made him think of himself as almost a semi-divine being. We do not want you to suffer such delusions of grandeur and divinity Mr. President, which power as Satan may whisper to your unsuspecting mind. Yahya Jammeh thrived on self-mystification and self-delusion, casting himself as a pious man of God, holding strange objects in his hands, wearing large boubous, and making grandiose pronouncements with a view to convincing the gullible among us that he was almost in direct contact and conversation with God, whom he routinely referred to as the All-Mighty Allah! He was doing this even as he was engaged in the most egregious injustices and human rights violations. We all know where that led him, Mr. President. And we do not want you to go there!
And then, Mr. President, you said something else that got us scratching our heads even more. You pointed out to your audience that all three Gambian presidents so far have five letters in their first names – Dawda, Yahya, Adama, and six letters in their last names – Jawara, Jammeh, Barrow. Again, we wonder what your motive was for pointing out this interesting coincidence? What were you trying to achieve? What did you want your audience to think and believe? Do you want them to believe that this was by divine design? Is your power convincing you that this is by divine design? If so, that would be another very dangerous proposition!
You see, Mr. President, our ousted despot thrived on inane self-mystification of the sorts we have alluded to in this letter, and which we are afraid, your power is making you subscribe to. Like we advised you in our recent open letter, in your own interest and in the interest of our dear country and the success of your government, please beware of the deceitful whisperings of power. Yes, you are the president of the Republic of The Gambia. But beware of those whisperings of power the Satan, that you are somehow a king of old, a near-prophet, or some morally superior chosen one. Of course, in our belief system, no one can become anything without God’s will. But that is as true of the president as it is of any other human being.
Concentrate on building a great legacy, Mr. President; one that you and all of us will be proud of when one day you shall be referred to as ex-president Adama Barrow. That, Mr. President is your inevitable rendezvous with destiny. And we hope it happens under the very best of circumstances! Please do not fall for the delusions of grandeur that destroyed Yahya Jammeh!