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Sunday, July 21, 2024

The trajectory of Gambian democracy: The country, the government and the people

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By Moudou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe

I would like to get started with the Swahili saying that goes, “ukiona mwenzio ananyolewa zako tia maji”. Difficult to translate but “if you see your neighbours house on fire stand by with water to put yours out in case it spreads. While working on my address for a literary conference, I discovered an unnegligible QUESTION from a colleague West African writer, and on the letter addressed to me, she said:
“ML, why don’t you speak about Gambian politics and educate the masses with your write-up? We appreciate the way you write and do know it’s a natural gift from Allah, cherish it. ”
This was my reply to her; ” Even when God saved the people of Egypt from the mischief of a wicked ruler (Pharoah); they still went astray ; as such, The Gambia. Listening a lot and not saying anything at all, is the fastest way of becoming a very good public speaker in The Gambia nowadays. I added to her that, I always want to be the first to hear and the last to speak; the lie spread faster than the truth. Islam had condemned vain talks- and I value the tenets of my religion above anything”, I ended.

Now to do justice to the topic in hand, let’s conduct a deeply atmospheric, slow-burning examination of the effects of modern Gambia on the shoulder of democracy, and of political participation of one man’s subtle but inexorable slide into moral decadence. I’ll employ the seediness and cynicism of representative democracy to a dangerous mixture of tribalism, of simple old-fashioned values and unrestrained debauchery reads like democracy from participatory citizenship, but none of them is worst than political oversight in a country of less than 3 million people. Let me remind you that in the presidential Republic of The Gambia, the President of The Gambia serves as both the head of state and head of government of the nation. The executive wields both executive authority and legislative authority. Furthermore, the National Assembly is comprised of 53 elected members as well as five members who are appointed by the president. Gambia has a unicameral parliamentary system with only one chamber of parliament that is the National Assembly. The speaker is the leader of the National Assembly and is mandated to moderate the proceeding of parliament as well as presiding over voting by members of parliament during the passing of bills. The speaker and his deputy are selected from the appointed members of parliament and not the elected members.
Having known this, The Gambia’s December election 2016 indicated that African democracy and obedience to the law was the coming of age to shift from dictatorship to democracy. But do you all know that The Gambia was the longest continuously surviving multi-party democracy in Africa until a successful military coup in 1994, with civilian rule being restored in 1996? If democracy is actually the opposite of dictatorship, I would like to ask you what type of democracy is actually existing in The Gambia?

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Are we having a multiparty democracy,
A sociocracy,
Democratic republic,
Deliberative democracy,
Constitutional democracy,

A Liberal democracy or a defensive democracy, or that it’s an Anticipatory democracy?
My assignment will therefore be that we thoroughly study our governance, the institutions, and our society to substantiate, ascertain, measure, and thereafter, be able to actually tell what type of democracy had been existing or injected by the New Gambia. To help you in your research, let me honestly inform you that the system of education that had been existing in The Gambia from post-independence, mainly focuses on academics ( i.e, book knowledge) in my own opinion, this education has badly influenced newly self-crown, so-called journalists, motivational speakers, so-called political science students, activists of all kinds , both the learned and the ignorant, all writing trashes of dejectedly poluted, unsolicited and undeserving comments and articles on social media to represent our democracy. I’m even made to see the actual reason why God had (Himself ) chosen former President, Yahya AJJ Jammeh to at least once be a president for The Republic of The Gambia. God knew very well that despite being bad- the fact is, Jammeh had some undeniable qualities of a good leader in him to silent and deactivate his subjects at any interval. In my scholarly work and new book ( TEMPLE OF WISDOM) , I define POLITICS as intellectual deception, and therein, define DEMOCRACY as a reverse system of political bait that’s being exercised over AFRICAN societies to rape their mother’s civilization and defile its beautiful culture and norms, in the eye of pretense and material supremacy.

If we were to go into the various kinds of levels of knowledge that will take democracy out of the forbidden context of unattainable intellectualism, we shall never succeed until there is a wide scholarship competent beyond school primer and comic book level, to define us as a people. As if that will necessitate for us to form political institutions to inform and educate the present Gambian youths on the limitations, applications, and the meaning of democracy, in order to get rid of their book knowledge. That being said, it won’t be that every red monkey in our forest of education can jump on national T.V. to express their eloquence, party affiliation, or influence for cheap popularity without having an insightful known-how of our political history and society.

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Apply your political terms you’ve read or reading at the University of The Gambia (UTG) only on your exam papers, and do reference works of people when you copy from them than imitating who you’re not. The Gambian takes too much pride and thinks that his little education makes him or her know everything in this world. I would like to recommend Aunty Patience Sonko-Godwin to most of you for a political orientation and historical initiation into the knowledge of extraterrestrial scholarship of thoughts, even though; she’s a historian who can tell you it took half of her life to accurately write a history of The Gambia. This, her leniency and patience would subject you to an academic discipline in the field of political science. When elders are silent on an issue, it doesn’t mean the children who spoke are elders. An elder will always be elderly in both speech and writing. To know further, the various African citizens official/ social attitude to democracy and freedom of expression has certainly in the twenty-first-century of political struggle made state money gone into guns and in the hands of thiefs, not books or history; social discipline has been relegated to this dispensable category, thus- making The Gambia now a country of tribalism, being at the height of favoritism, co-meddled with hypocrisy and narcissism.

To transform an adjective ( Gambian) into an adverb of undocumented word, let me speak “Gambianly” to intentionally but intellectually abuse English in letting my readers know that the industry of knowledge, doesn’ t manufacture noisy or bragging people, but it focuses mainly on producing intellectuals in the world, whose values are known in the way they write or speak. In Africa, the difference between hard work and intelligence have not been clearly explained to some bunch of fools, who’s been settled down with a successful career– have termed themselves self-important–and tend to undermine the value of others. Experience without wisdom is like a library without books, and knowledge without wisdom and experience is like a golden necklace expensively tie onto a pig’s neck.

Do we forget that everything on earth is in pairs? What if someone has the experience but lack the documents, equating that as well to someone who got the documents but lack the experience. To interject ancient wisdom to modern speakers of newly-ancient dialect of low understanding, it’s inarguably to accept that wisdom teaches us to know those who were not even learned at all– have not received any better education compare to us, and factually, hadn’t obtained even a post-secondary certificate; were far more intelligent than people of modern times who hold PhDs , double-master’s degrees, and have attended the world’s most accredited universities – but yet, they’re just ignorant because they’ve book knowledge mixed with remnants of contaminated ethics in the Age of Technology. From creation to date, the world’s most intelligent people are mostly haphazardly educated; or- had never been to school at all. But nowadays, those who’ve been to school are those ignorant.

A person who’s been abandoned to live in a forest will surely master the language of animals and behave like them. But he who is taught by the society has ethics and a better mind to reason appropriately. What we should battle for, is not education with documents but education with wisdom and experience. With that, we can transform ideas into realities and realities into benefits. Wisdom is not bought at a market neither at a shop, nor is it the same with knowledge- but it’s a gift from God. This reminds me of the difference between “Wisdom and Knowledge”. Wisdom is an intellectual ability of an individual to do what others cannot, and it’s the unique will power to recognize what’s right from the wrong. It comes from the word “Al Hakim’, meaning The Wise, which is one of the (Ninety-Nine Names of Allah.) While knowledge simple means knowing or to know. E.g, one can obtain knowledge through learning, research, etc. But one does not directly obtain wisdom from a person or thing, but it’s rather given by God. In order to grow and develop its full potential as a postcolonial nation, The Gambia needs dedicated, trained, and ambitious intellectuals with the potential to heal from the wounds of dictatorship the country has once experienced. The country needs democratic institutions with action-oriented and well-trained personnel to reliably inform and educate its present youth on the applications, limitations, and very importantly, our exact democracy that is totally different from western theories and fitting to their societies– and just practically impossible and inapplicable in The Gambia. The education system of the country needs structuring and alteration to some extent, to introduce effective research and vocational skill education as important components of academic acceleration and development. Political relationships to youths must exist outside of the power relations from which it is trying to emerge.

In the twilight of the Barrow Administration, new unions of highly ambitious youths emerged from all corners of the country , each is now a politician, an activist, a journalist , or even a changemaker with no difference or direction. The electoral success enjoyed by the party enabled it to champion a whole raft of democratic reforms and yearning for a rapid development, has been now celebrated as a laboratory for popular and participatory forms of criticism against a government of less than three years in office. However, through analysis of the trajectory of the Gambia’s democratic experiment on my DESK OF SILENCE, the true challenge of embedding democracy inside existing structures emerges with a U-turn with high expectations but with low support from its citizens to even build a hut as a relic of history to be its first remarkable development under the Barrow Administration.

Drawing on long-term ethnographic research and intellectual honesty, I would like to provide you a critical analysis of citizen’s participation in Gambian politics , if one is not to frown at my expression and even if one does- you won’t deny the fundamental role the media and Gambian activists have played in ushering the New Gambia in 2016.

Since it was social media which in one way of the other had served as an outlet where cowardice Gambians first displayed their bravery against the Jammeh Regime, still, social media is–and has been the only avenue of hypocrisy, backbiting, witch-hunting , stereotyping, blackmailing, and demotivation of innocent and vibrant Gambians. This being said, those holding a microscope to the power relations between political appointees, public officials and local community activists all end up becoming direct advisers to the president instead of a child accepts being a child, and an elder being an elder, and to like to be seen as one.

The social media, especially Facebook reveals how different social actors think and feel about citizen’s participation away from formal assemblies, and how some citizens engage in what is a tenuous, and at times mutually distrustful, tactical and strategic relationship with political patrons. One of the ugly sides of democracy in a country that suffered dictatorship, is the inability of leaders to educate its citizens on democratic constraints, its suitability and accountability as an important factor behind the rotation of office from one government to another. In conclusion , permit me to borrow a quote from Albert Einstein who said: “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.” But to the contrary, in The Gambia those who had the privileges and thereafter know- are actually those misusing democracy. In addition, the Gambia has truly escaped dictatorship but heading to worst than dictatorship. This is evidence from the attitude of the youth who from post-Jammeh era, have no regard for the law; and have chosen and succumbed to a lifestyle that was never known in The Gambia. Alan Saporta said: ” The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.” Let me say any national problem which is not solve, is still a problem for its people. Freedom is so very nice and can even turn a mice into a goat, but let us remember a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr, which reads: ”

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup.” Let me also say now that The Gambia is totally free from Jammeh and dictatorship, from what I can see, everyone wants to drink from the cup of freedom to either lead or be a leader, or the leader. I have said in The Throne of the Ghost, and I repeat; leaders are chosen by God not people, people can only nominate, recommend, or vote for a leader.

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