Sharp like a razor

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With Aisha Jallow

We need more Madi Jobartehs in The Gambia, men who are dignified and incorruptible. We need men and women who are not afraid to speak out whenever they see something that is wrong. We have enough of boot lickers, back patters and those who never hesitate to kiss someone’s behind as long as it will benefit them. Madi Jobarteh never asks for a payout, some money under the table, the right words at the right moment for the right person who will give him back the right favour. Madi would rather starve than to take anything that doesn’t rightfully belong to him, and how many of our leaders and rulers can claim the same?

It is more of a rule than an exception to first ask ”what’s in it for me” before someone does a favour or gives you the service you deserve because your tax money pays their wages. There is a saying: ”Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” , but our corrupt leaders don’t just bite your hands, they chew them up and spit them out! President Barrow sensed the sweet taste of power and does anything to cling to it as long as he can. This means that he doesn’t hesitate to collaborate with the dictator Yahya Jammeh’s sweethearts and having a relation with them. It suits the president well to keep them near. There is another saying: ”Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”. What this means is to stay close to your enemies so you will be aware of their next move. This is wise, but unfortunately I don’t think it is because of ancient wisdom President Barrow is keeping the enemies of the State close.

Wisdom is not the first word I come to think of, whenever I think of President Barrow.


If he would have been wise, he would have chosen a different approach at his speech for the Muslim elderly on the Koriteh day. The president mentioned different kinds of issues The Gambia is facing, but then he decided to point out one person – Madi Jobarteh. The president accused Madi of putting The Gambia ablaze and was clearly annoyed because of Madi’s constant criticizm of how the president, the National Assembly and other leaders are handling the affairs of the State. Yes, Madi can be annoying and I know that from the many arguments we have had, him and I, but our arguments have always been grounded in a mutual respect. Madi Jobarteh’s brain is sharp like a razor, nothing goes unseen, no stone is unturned. He is always on his toes, not because he gains anything from it, but because he just can’t remain quiet when he sees something that is wrong.

Instead of trying to diminish Madi, the president should reach out to him and humbly ask for advice. It is clear that Madi Jobarteh knows so much more about the affairs of the State than President Barrow ever will. Some days ago, I listened to a broadcast from West Coast Radio where a spokesman from the NPP, Mambanyink Njie, tried to turn himself inside out in his attempt to explain President Barrow’s statement at his speech for the Muslim elders on Koriteh day. He was very clear that the NPP wishes Madi Jobarteh no harm, the same goes for the president, and that no one should in any way harm Madi. All this is good and fair, but too late because the harm was already done!

When Mr Njie was asked if not the president should apologize to Madi Jobarteh, Mr Njie said that there was no need. Mr Njie stated that the president is also a citizen of The Gambia and therefore he has the right to speak freely and share his opinions with us on others. Well, he is right in a way, but we are speaking about a certain citizen who has a certain responsibility for what he is saying or doing. He is not only a random guy on the street, he is the president and must think before he opens his mouth. Everything the president is sharing with the members of the public, will go in public and will have consequences – one way or another.

The president can be whining in his quarters about how unfair everyone is, and especially Madi Jobarteh, but he must be active professionally as soon as he is speaking out in public. Holding such a high position as being the Head of State requires a level headed person, a person who always is able to put what is best for his country first, and himself last. President Barrow has a lot to learn from Madi and if he would have been wise, he would have asked Madi to teach at the UTG to make sure that in the future there will be no opportunities for any new leaders with dictatorial ambitions. A new generation of sharp and level-headed leaders would be raised and their first aim would always be: ”What’s in it for The Gambia?” , not as for now: ”What’s in it for me?”

The former world champion in boxing, Muhammad Ali, was once asked how he was able to become so successfull. His explanation for his style when he was boxing was as following:

”Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. He was fast, light on his feet, flexible and could read the game. When it was time, he hit and he hit hard, he stung like a bee. This is how I could explain Madi; he is reading the game, following every move and when he is ready his words sting like a bee. Knowing Madi, you know that he is a kind and caring person, but he never hesitates to speak out and it doesn’t matter if he is addressing family members, friends or enemies. Like a baobab tree he is standing firm when the wind blows hard around him. He stands tall and steady, protecting those who need him but is always requiring the best from himself as well as others.

We need more Madi Jobartehs in The Gambia, people who never fear to tell the truth no matter what. The truth hurts and that is why President Barrow and his guys are sick and tired of Madi. In my mind, I can hear them sigh and complain, with trembling voices asking why he can’t let them be. What should happen if people like Madi didn’t exist? The corruption in The Gambia would be complete! Those who gain from it would of course be happy, but they would be the only ones. As long as the public is paying one’s salary, one is a servant of the public, it is a simple as that.

The president has chosen to remain on his position, therefore he has also chosen to be scrutinized and questioned. If he can’t stand the heat, then walk away from the fire. Madi Jobarteh doesn’t ask uncomfortable questions just because he enjoys it, but what he enjoys is how uncomfortable some people become when they are questioned. This is a clear sign that those who make wrong know they are wrong but they wish to believe they are right. The famous American psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw used to say: ”When you choose your actions, you choose the consequences.” The solution is easy, Mr President and everyone in your crew: do good, do right, don’t be naughty because as long as Madi is around, he will see you and tell.