The paradox of the New Gambia: healing the national divide a sin qua non for sustainable peace and development


By Abdoukabirr Daffeh

Amatya Sen observed that leaders are a reflection of a kind of a society they lead. According to Christopher Chow, the authoritarian regimes in the continent are but the making of the people of that country. He argued that citizens have the ultimate power to dictate the kind of life they want to live in a Democracy.
According to Robert Dahl and valentine Ameli, Democracy and good governance are about debates and consensus building.

Valentine maintains that the core-value of Democracy is premised on debates on what should characterized the good life of a people.
It is therefore noteworthy that in a Democracy every citizen’s opinion matters and most be respected.
Haven United to install Change in the Gambia, the question that ought to be asked is “has the Gambia change fundamentally”?
The current climate of freedom in the Gambia has brought hope of a fundamental change in the country that sees her citizens speak to power without fearing to be picked up. This is important for the Democratic project of the Gambia.


According to Amatya Sen, genuine Development can only be achieved when citizens are giving the freedom to live the life they Cherished. The current Development in the country speaks true to this.
However, while we celebrate this democratic gain of our country, it is essential to note that our country has begun to witness a form “citizen dictatorship” that continues to tear the things that held us together and as Chenua Achebe would say we have slowly but surely fallen apart.
It is a common knowledge that Gambians are gradually becoming each other’s enemy due to plurality of opinions and deference in political belief.

It is essential to note that in a Democracy, it is foolhardy to think that everyone will think alike and see things from one angle. What makes Democracy vibrant is our diversity in opinion and our desire to listen to each other even when we disagree. Prof Godwin observed that not everyone in a country will accept the government. He noted that the government should always try to answer two questions when making decisions” who will be “happy”, how happy and who will be “mad”, how mad”. He argued that the government should always try to pay more attention on those who will get mad and employ its energy to creating an alternative for everyone to feel secured and contribute to building a nation base on the tenants of sustainable development.

The analogy here is that difference in opinion is a cornerstone in a Democracy for sustained growth and development. As such disagreeing to agree most become a core-value for every Democrat and citizen of the Gambia.

The Gambia just like any other African country emerged from decolonization characterized on the lines of ethnicity. This diversity must be viewed positively by all Gambians as strength .Ethnic differences and political plurality most only fueled us adequately to approach the future of our country with optimism knowing full well together in our diversity we can make Gambia great.

It is essential to note that no one person holds truth. Democracy is built on genuine and constructive debates. In a Democracy, it is superior logic that wins not the sentiment of men.
With the current trend of our democratic journey where young people are prepared to tear each other literally for differing in opinion, the future of our country can only look scary.

The recent saga between the supporters of APRC and UDP in both Mankamang Kunda and Busunbala is indicative that we have not changed fundamentally as a nation. While we accept that Democracy is about ideas, it must be premised on respect and the desire to maintain sanity in our political discussion. It is everyone’s democratic right to hold opinion. However, we must do this with all forms of decorum and civility knowing full well that our truth is relative to others view .As Plato advanced on the death of Socrates ,any society where tolerance become a causality , all forms of development and progress are often shunned.


As the Gambia is set to write a new history for ourselves, we must all be committed to writing a history that posterity will be proud to inherit. We must ensure that our politics and politicking is premised on genuine ideas and superior logics. We must accept that all Gambia would not see things from one perspective but in our pursuit to heal the divide, this should only become a capital for mature growth and development.
It must be borne in mine that our democracy as a nation can only mature when we are determined to listen to each other and see our diversity as strength.
We must know that building a nation requires critical reasoning and diversity is the driver of this critical reasoning.
When we go so low to trample on all forms of dissent, we will only be building a nation where we will all fear the future.


M G Bongyu (2017).Theories and Principles of Governance (lecture note) Pan-African University Yaounde,Cameroon
Sen Amatya (200) .Development as freedom: New York USA
V Ameli (2015). Democratization in Africa: challenges and prospects ,University of Bamenda
C Christopher (2017) .Ethnic conflict in Africa: The case of Rwanda: University of Yaoundé