By Abdou Jarju
Professor Kishore Mahbubani, in his book “The great Convergence Asia, The west, and the Logic of one World”, page 8, reported the address of the former USA. President Bill Clinton, delivered on the occasion of a lecture at Yale University in 2003, as the latter warned the Americans in these terms: “If you believe that maintaining power and control and absolute freedom of movement and sovereignty is important to your country´s future, there´s nothing inconsistent in that the US continuing to behaving unilaterally. The US is the biggest, most powerful country in the world now. We´ve got the juice and we´re going to use it. … But if you believe we should be trying to create a world with rules and partnerships and habits of behaviour that we would like to live in when we´re no longer the military political economic superpower in the world, then you wouldn´t do that. It just depends on what you believe.”
Another great man, the French General Charles De Gaulle, also said that: “To overcome a present difficulty, should not allow you to act, or behave or legislate in a manner to mortgage the future”. These two great states men of historical different times warned their people to change their behaviour in politics. I now ask my readers´ indulgence to allow me to paraphrase the above quotations, in a bid to contextualize them in our Foni present situation. If Foninkas believe that the fact of pertaining in a particular region of Gambia and belonging to one ethnic group or yet believe that they no longer have any future aspiration, if these facts allow them to practice a politics of egocentrism and indecency towards other groups, they can do whatever they want. But if they believe that one day, one of theirs may need power, they must create a democratic environment in the region where any political party legally registered may go around and expose its agenda. The Foninkas should not behave in a way, as General De Gaulle said, to mortgage the future of their children.
The same General De Gaulle, reported in his memories that he received an overwhelming reception in Guinéa Conakry, in 1957, a warm welcoming he’d never seen in any of the former French colonies, nonetheless Conakry said they wanted the total independence, a slap on the face of De Gaulle, and it was on the same occasion that the famous sentence of Sekou Touré, the first president of Guiné Conakry was pronounced “Nous préferons la pauvreté dans la dignité que l´opulence dans l´esclavature”. (we prefer poverty in dignity, than prosperity in slavery). Why Foninkas cannot give President Barrow an overwhelming welcome in their region and have an opportunity to express their anger? Receiving President Barrow overwhelmingly does not mean that you are his ally but it demonstrates your political maturity and shows your understanding of the concept of democracy. It also shows to the world your grandeur d´esprit and your well-known hospitality. It is unfortunate that in our Gambian society people judge the concept of democracy which, as at now, is proven to be the best system of governance worldwide. This concept means in present days, good governance, transparency in the management of public affairs, the rule of law, equity in the distribution of the country´s wealth, etc. Who doesn´t want that for their country? Instead of judging the so-called democrats we judge the democratic concept, which we do not even understand what it is. Gambia lacks democrats.
I am not for the alliance of APRC/NPP, and will be the last person to be part of it, for reasons repeatedly mentioned in my previous articles. My “no” to alliance is for reasons of principles, ideology and political coherence. My “no” is about the many questions I have in mind which none of the pro Alliance was able to give me a satisfactory answer. Among them are, our relationship with Senegal? The occupation forces? Corruption? Good governance? Transparency in attribution of government contracts? As I said it in my article in 2018 that Barrow will win the coming election and I even went further to say that even if President Barrow declines for a second term, he will be forced to stay by Senegal and his internal allies but what will be our future? To lose our remaining monetary sovereignty? But with all these in mind, I cannot condone politics of indecency, regionalism, neither tribalism for being a democrat and par excellence, a Victorian democrat. I strongly believe in visionary leadership and vision is based on knowledge which produces development plan possible to be costed and subsequently founded in a way to turn development plan into a reality. I do not believe in rhetoric because it never developed a country neither associate myself with people who do not value education neither believe in democracy nor comport themselves in a descent manner to create an environment of peaceful co-existence where all is possible.
Politics cannot be conducted by sentiments or emotions, it is a game but a scientific game for the betterment of the city. That being the case, how can our politicians, who claim to be educated and civilized engage themselves in insulting each other, castigating each other day and night, without telling us about their programs and how they are going to improve our city to be a better place for every Gambian? It is a combat of ideas and programs as well as of policies not of insult. Foninkas should continue to learn and understand politics. Charles Maurice Talleyrand, the first French Prime Minister and former diplomat said that: “En politique la trahison est une question de date. On a trahi hier, on trahi aujourd´hui et on trahira demain” (in politics betrayal is a question of date, there has been betrayal yesterday, today and there will be tomorrow). In another hand, history has also demonstrated that politics is the graveyard of friendship but with all these lessons in mind we the Foninkas have to be able to observe our former colonial master´s value of gentlemanship. Let us respect each other´s views and camps and continue moving forward. We are all working for the betterment of Foni in particular and the Gambia in its entirety. “Tehya, Feemeu, ehpakey nou Nyehsalehm” (let us run, or lie down, the goal being looked for, is to be safe), a Jola saying.
I have been feeling a profound pain, since the beginning of the pre-campaign to see the children of Foni, castigating, insulting each other because of the difference of political views or pertaining to different political camps. How can an outstanding public figure like General Lang Tombong Tamba, go to a combat of castigating each other with a highly listened gentleman like Baitullah, when both of them know that they carry on their shoulders the traditional brotherhood link, Tamba/Sanneh and by the end both will face the tribunal of history for breaking that sacred union? The bonds am referring to are the same that link Jarju/Fula; Serer/Jola; Nyumi/Foni, and so on and so forth. These are established peaceful coexistence means by our ancestors, why because of politics we have to destroy them?
In many of my previous writings, I emphasized the fact that Foni, and particularly my Jola community, has presently enough intellectuals capable of analysing and understanding issues and cannot afford to allow to be used or instrumentalized by any outsider. The “complex of inferiority” of those days has gone and Foninkas should now be capable of thinking and taking decision by their own. They have among them highly educated individuals and education is the great equalizer of any society.
To conclude this piece of my reflection, let me urge Foninkas to stop insulting each other. To deeply think and question themselves, how to they imagine former president Jammeh back to Gambia will feel, on his way to Kanilai find the foreign troops check point in Bwiam? What will Gambia look like after the poll of 2021? Time is the best judge as used to say by the great philosopher Sartre. All of us will face the tribunal of history.
Former Ambassador of the Gambia
To Guinea-Bissau, Rep. of Guiné and Cape Verde
Lecturer at University Colinas de Boé and jean Piaget both in Bissau