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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Three Years Jotna Part 2

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With Aicha

A while ago, I wrote an article about this matter, and as we have come nearer to December 16, I felt that I needed to go back to it once more.

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President Barrow stated some days ago that he will not step down just because his opponents tell him so. Stubborn as a mule, he will stay in his position as the leader of The Gambia. Many of us are asking ourselves if Barrow really is the leader, or if he is led to believe so. This is not the first time in history when we have found a man (which it is in most cases) placed in a position he is not fit for. A serious situation requires an acute solution so some men in charge take what they can get. Kings have been picked this way, presidents too, and it is often not the best candidate that has been chosen, it is the one that is easiest to lead.

A person had been picked out to be the front figure, many times persuaded by a group of men. These men convinced their candidate that they will support him, give him good advice and stay by his side all the time. The hesitations faded and a sense of being ”the chosen one” took over. This is what happened with Donald Trump in the US and this is what has happened in the Gambia. For those of you who are familiar with a theater form called puppetry know what I am speaking about. For those of you who don’t know what I am speaking about I will tell you a little. The actors in this kind of theater are puppets instead of people. To make the puppets move they have strings connected with two sticks that are crossed. A puppeteer (the one who holds the sticks) is the one who is deciding the movements of the puppet.

Some of you who have followed my writing might remember that I have referred to puppetry before when I have spoken about President Barrow. Our leader, who actually is led by others, is like a puppet on a string, others are controlling his movements but making him believe that he is in charge.

Why is it so? Well, it’s human in a way, but it is also corrupt. The make-believe leader is a weak man who gets overwhelmed by his sudden power. The puppeteers are happy as long as the show goes on, because they gain from it. They know that the leader is not qualified for his role, but the longer they can make him stay, the better for them. Being a president, a leader of a country, should come with a lot of responsibility, but that is boring, isn’t it? Communicating with people, caring about their problems, solving problems, being aware of what signals you are giving to both your own people and others abroad. Ah, can’t be bothered with that as a president when there are so much more fun things to do!
Does everyone but the president remember that he promised to stay for three years, and then let the people decide? Considering that he hasn’t done much for the Gambia I suppose he doesn’t dare to hold an election. Barrow has a sense that the outcome wouldn’t be the one he wished for. It can’t have passed him completely that people are not satisfied with him as their president. There were high hopes for this new president and many promises were made. Has any one of these promises been held? Some people claim that Barrow has done a lot for the Gambia, but why are they saying that? The loudest voices are those who have something to gain from him. Those who are close to Barrow easily can reach out to pat his back, and others who have been given money etc. It is easy to buy votes, but it’s not honest. An honest leader is the kind who people will follow because they believe in him and trust him, not the one who has bought his voters.

I do understand poor people who gladly receive gifts without a thought of the hidden agenda. These people are not used to getting anything for free, and they can’t afford to think that when something seems to be too good to be true, it often is. Gifts don’t rain down from the sky, just like that, there is always a thought behind it. The receiver has been exploited many times without knowing. The giver very well knows to use the situation for his/her purposes and that is corruption. Corruption has many ugly faces, and buying voters and young fans with expensive gifts is one of them.

Speaking about young people, so many died in the sea outside Mauritania when they tried to escape the poverty in the Gambia. So many were hoping that we should have seen an end of these tragedies, but no. These people left the Gambia in a boat, young men, women and small children. I have seen a video where a lot of the dead bodies were washed up the shores. The waves sang them a last lullaby and the bodies were rocking like in the arms of a loving mother. I cried when I watched this video, I prayed for their poor souls. I thought of the hopes and dreams that died with the victims of a life in poverty and hopelessness. I prayed for the mothers and fathers who have lost their children at sea. I prayed that God will give them strength to endure this pain that will never leave them. Oh Allah, rest the souls of the deceased and grant them a place in Jannah.

Who is to blame for the loss of these lives? We can blame the one who has sold the boat and not equipped it with enough fuel so the refugees could have made it all the way to the Canary Islands. We can blame the ones who have persuaded people to risk their lives at sea. We can point our fingers in different directions, but sooner or later all fingers are pointed at the State House. Who is to blame, if not the president and the government of the Gambia? You have had almost three years now to improve the living conditions of the people in the Gambia. Are you proud of what you have achieved this far? You should cover your faces in shame, I have said that before and I will continue saying it until things are changing for the better in the Gambia.

The president has been on a tour around the country, people have been gathering and cheering when they have listened to him. Can the finances of the State really afford this Grand Tour? Wouldn’t it be enough if only the president and his closest people, plus guards would be out on this tour? Is it really necessary to bring bus loads with others along? All these people need food and accommodation. I am sure that they don’t eat only once a day, as so many of our poor citizens are forced to do. No, good food, plenty of food and soft beds where their tired bodies can rest after another day of a life of idleness.

This Grand Tour hasn’t changed anything for the better, and it will not change anything either. It is just a show, a way of reminding people that there is a president in the country and that guy has loads of promises that he doesn’t intend to keep.
President Barrow is holding speeches here and there, but here’s a question: does he write his speeches himself? If that is a fact, I would advise him to let someone else write the speeches. It is not that I would call him…..eh….less smart….but he has bad luck when he is thinking.

President Barrow delivered a speech where he told the people that he could allow Yahya Jammeh to come back to the Gambia as a private citizen! He even told the people that Jammeh should be treated with the respect he deserves as the former Head of State! Isn’t your blood boiling when you read this? Where is the respect for the victims of Jammeh’s atrocities? Where is the respect for all the sad, awful, heart breaking stories told at the TRRC?
Where is the compassion for the tears shed by all mothers and fathers who have lost their children? Where is the compassion for all the widows still mourning their dead husbands, some of these women don’t even know if their husbands are dead or not? Who is helping the children who have lost their parents, children who have lost their own lives or limbs in peaceful protests? Who is trying to heal all the traumatized people? The people who remember the torture and the fear, young people who have been forced to come back to the Gambia as their escape was in vain.

Mr President, you and your government have failed the youth of the Gambia. You have committed a sin that only God can forgive you. May he show you mercy when Karma comes and bites you. All the sweet promises were only hot air; all the hopes and dreams you have managed to give the citizens of the Gambia for a while are nothing. The promises appeared to be emptier than the pockets of our poor fisher men coming home after yet another day at sea without any catch. People fled the Gambia before to save their lives, they feared the tyrant that you, Mr President, are willing to come back to the Gambia again. How is it possible to be so completely and utterly arrogant to say that in a public speech? Amazing that the sky didn’t crack and a lightning struck the podium where you were standing! Some things can be thought, but never said – that is what we try to teach our children. Didn’t you listen to your Mummy? If I was your Mum I would have washed your mouth with soap!
A public speech is not easy to write, you need to weigh every word thoroughly and practice it loudly in your Chambers first so you can hear your own words. You need to have people you trust to read the speech and give you constructive criticism. Don’t improvise if you are not hundred percent sure that you are in control of your mind and what you say. A public speech is nowadays spread like the wind thanks to the internet. Don’t for a second believe that you can say one thing here and another thing there and get away with it. Do not be a people pleaser; be honest and committed to your mission.

So what is your mission? Is it to gain as much as possible from your position? You never know how long it lasts so better take the opportunity to fill your pockets. Is that how you are thinking? Are you laughing at the people who have voted for you? Are you thinking of them as poor idiots who believe whatever you say? The Grand Tour has been a show, like a magic show where the magician is using smoke and loud sounds so the audience doesn’t hear what he is doing.

Who is your puppeteer, Mr President? Who or what is pulling your strings?
Search your mind and ask yourself how you became the man you are today. Have you always been the same, or have you changed? Why don’t you think of the Gambia as your home and the citizens as your family? It is actually very easy, but you need to search your heart deeper than your wallet. Only then can you find the right answers.

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