For all that Gambia has gone through, she should not be a land which champions freedom of her people alone but one that serves as an entrepreneur of freedom. She was supposed to be every opposite of the politico socioeconomic setting of pre-2017 Gambia. However there are many dangers inherent in the post 2016 Gambia which if not urgently diagnosed will stall any possible leap to a NEW GAMBIA.
The Conservatives and the Freedom Phobia
Freedom Phobia is when a person(s), groups of persons, and/or institution(s) collectively or singularly are afraid to pursue, grab and let freedom rain for the fear of some unfounded/imaginary consequences from the enjoyment of freedom.
This fear for freedom is being manifested by at least two entities in the new Gambia. These entities are “mutually constitutive”. They are the basic components of every social grouping, namely the agent and structure. In everyday language, the structure is the institutions while the agents are the employees/workers of the institutions. Without the agents who implement the laws and embody the culture of the organization, the institution is nothing… But as stated without the agents interpretation of the laws and policies, and their implementation, there would not be any institution.
So what is the role of the agents in this? As humans, we are made up of two levels of thinking that coordinates our behavior: the conscious mind and the subconscious. Thus our behaviours are either of or a combination of the results of the motor work from the aforementioned. The showcase of this fear, and its triggering is only possible due to the agents’ fear of freedom. But one may wonder how comes, people who have fought tyranny and turned victorious so recently can be renegade, and even deny us enjoying the fruits of our labour. To answer this, we need to ask how did they join the liberation struggle in the first place and why.
Yes, there are new faces in the structures, as in the police and courts and the presidency, but there are old faces as well. During the first wave of the liberation struggle, when there was a spontaneous, sporadic and mild resistance, former ministers, secretaries, deputies, and ex servicemen joined the liberation struggle because they either saw a more privileged or sustained role in a new gambia than the former regime guaranteed or they were already displaced and shunned from their former enclave which had a habit of displacing and replacing members of the inner circle. There are few who resigned before they were overthrown or relieved by the Leviathan State. By then they had been indoctrinated to fear freedom, the masses and progress. Their existence was only possible in a state of fear and conservatism. But having become unaccepted in the powerful arm, loosing his privileges and master status, he joined the people whom he had disowned, bullied and fought against.
But because of his networks in the system, his resources, hard or soft, he is welcomed, and he helped in directing the liberation efforts, intensifying the sabotage, served as a leading player, setting organizations and taking leadership roles. He became a fierce and well known fighter. Therefore, when the 1st wave of the liberation struggle has ended, he or she is rewarded by the self proclaimed reformer(s) for his role in dislodging the Magistrate of the Leviathan State.
It is not because that these men are not trustworthy, or that they should not have been welcomed in the new flanks of the liberation groups, we do welcome their coming to the people, after a reflection which enabled them realised that they were doomed with the oppressor and after being remorseful about their role. We only state this because we are aware that it takes so long for the human to cast off his unconscious being or more preferably his subconscious being. For the agents of the structure, who had built this system of inequality, this system of oppression, this Leviathan State, to do away with it in a short period may be a far fetched dream. They are cultured into fearing freedom and maintaining the old ways. And that explains the use of obnoxious laws, the citing of unfounded threats to abrogate freedoms.
Unfortunately, there is another group who had never played a part to hasten the liberation efforts. They were the pillars who maintained the Leviathan state, but after their fall, they were reintegrated into the structures to serve as the face of the new nation. Their culture of fear and conservatism is superb.
This is why when the men in suits and grand khaftans speak with their conscious mind, trying to readjust to the ideal, the home the progressives fought for and now yearn for, we applaud them, but when their subconscious element acts or speaks we are perplexed.
Yes, the former oppressor whether grand or mini, may change affiliation, depending on the circumstances and some predetermined causes, yet that does not change his super culture especially if the institutional culture had not yet changed. He remains a conservative.
I have not stereotyped oppression and conservatism here, I’ve been bold enough to say that most oppressors in this land have been males. He comes with his culture of the past which he integrates in his new status. What else can we expect? By putting conservatives, Freedom phobic, built by the Jawara and Jammeh state, any reform of the institutions will at best conform to PPP’s art of governing and at worst to Jammeh’s. They can only take us to the past or maintain the present. The future isn’t within their reach. By delivering the future, they will be taking their last breath. Are they that progressive? Reform isn’t change.
Yet there are others who were never part of the Leviathan State, they had always been true liberators in the liberation struggle but today their actions are in semblance with the groups earlier defined. Now they act as the monsters used to. How comes such people who did fought for freedom in their entire lives can go so low? As a Madibian, I will invoke his dictum that even the most revolutionary men have often fallen to the temptations of power and greed for materialism so much that they turned arms against their comrades; so much that they became advocates of the leviathan state they were built to terminate. Having tasted the good life that comes with sitting at the “Closed House”, they become the protectors of the Leviathan state they had vowed to terminate.
While there are men in the government who are constantly asking for reforms, there are many who having tasted power, enjoying fruits of their labour will do everything possible to maintain the state in its original fashion-The Leviathan state. Here, the rescinding of the vehicle policy announced by Barrow comes to mind, the constant display of flamboyant life of the then Humbled and/or Wretched Men, the “orders from above” the building of mansions and the quick transformation of a hamlet into a presidential villa by the liberators is enough to show that the revolutionary men have been defeated by the temptations of power.
How do we explain the 5-3 years defence and counter defence by prominent members of the liberation struggle?
With the fear that the people are against them, their statuses, they have become the defenders of the status quo. Instead of pressing the termination buttons and turning off the life machine of the system, they plead for the slow transformation of the state. They want to enjoy their tenure as the former did, in luxury and abundance while the many wallow in abject poverty. They want reforms to take place but when they leave office. By then they would have used the old ways to harass and intimidate, squander resources and lived as retired monsters. They have joined the ranks of conservatives and freedom phobics. And they nourish the very fear they vowed to fought against.
Now patriotic men and women who fought with them without accepting any privileged role, without being matriculated in the art of plundering, are labelled as the enemies of the state. Their every move is followed and they are being threatened in the ways of the old. The conservatives are afraid of freedom. This is the greatest danger and impediment to the change we desire. But this is just one facet.