‘A National Democracy’ Agenda for the Republic of citizen activists without direct/special alliances with some groups would have served our cause better. It would disentangle us from the vices of the Gambia’s undeveloped party politicking. Over time it would appeal to all citizens equally as people’s cause and not an agenda for someone/group to be propelled to power.
At an instant it may appear as the opposition parties are the natural allies of our struggle, considering the government’s role as the source of our problem. Flipping that same coin would mean whether the opposition become government they are potentially going to be the source of the same exact problems we are fighting against today.
Our problems are neither one person nor a government. We have a systemic social problem. A problem that a government will not fix and/or be able to fix! It’s a problem to be fix by informed and vigilant citizens outside of government and/or at least before they become government. Once anyone reaches the seat of power, the meaning of the problems become something entirely different from what it was when s/he was in the struggle. This is why it is a fallacy to assume that propelling Mr./Ms. X or Y to power first and then s/he will fix it never work anywhere on earth and will not work for the Gambia either. If you still reflect back to the famous military take overs of our sub-region including that of 1994 in Banjul, they all produced are worse than what they claimed to be the problem. Equally ballot box replacements including that of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal hasn’t produced anything better than the predecessor. We are just too noisy on wrong activities.
The wrong interpretation of the problems has led us to adopt wrong strategies for a fix. One such strategy was/is to work with the opposition to throw out the ruling party. The hope is the opposition party will fix the wrongs of the past when it gets into office. If that is the case Yahya replacing Jawara would have moved us to at least better than were the later left. Or do you still want to say but Yahya’s was a coup, and then take Abdoulaye Wade replacing Abdou Joof. Professor Wade wanted to corronate his son. But that’s not even the point of this writing. The point is our goal should be Gambia as a democratic republic and that goes beyond anyone person, party and/or even government. It will not only require governance restructuring/overhaul but also a massive social engineering that makes an average Gambian ‘a democratic being’. Only such a being will be capable of demanding democracy from his/her government.
Taking a side has essentially made us another politicians (one in pursuit of power and riches) in the eyes of our citizens. We essentially inherit all the wrongs/rights of Gambia’s retail politicking. In the eyes of our contemporaries who are trying to make a living in a very difficult environment we are either wanting power and/or trying to superimpose some foreign ideology that we may have learn during the journeys of our adventures. The uniqueness of the fighting to establish ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’ is over shadowed. Hence we’ve failed, at least so far to make a national case for ‘The Republic and ‘Democracy’. In fact the average Gambian sees us as those in UK/America, out of harms-way wanting to tell them what to do in the face of obvious harm and/or when they are trying to feed their families. This may or may not be true but is a perception many of our people.
Many human endeavors usually go through some learning curves. One would like to assume ours follow the same trend but for almost 50 years we tend to aggravate towards a person/group rather than ‘The Republic” and ‘Democracy’ that provides our citizens with equal opportunities they dreamt of an independent nation
- “Power of the state resides with the citizens”
Democratic ideals are:
- “A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections”
- “The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life”
- “Protection of the human rights of all citizens”
- “A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens”
The embodiment of what is/was supposed to be a national fight regardless of parties with only one side of our nations politics has cause some of the following difficulties:
- It has made us political foes of the opposing side(s). We are caricatured with the same slogans and tirades as the opposing side. For a population that hardly understand her relation and/or role in a republic can only side with who can provide a perceived protection and benefit. We are on the short end of that fight
- We are viewed at many corners inside Gambia as those who escaped the wraths of the dictator but want to ask them to die or stay hungry on our behave. I personally know people who told me to come back and say the things I dare say in America before they begin to listen to what I have to say.
- The one-sided alliance largely blindsided us from seeing/thinking through the broader and complicated problem(s). It has also made us lazy to think of alternative options. Almost everyone in the struggle will be quick to heap blame on those we support (opposition Parties) for doing and/or not doing one thing or another. In fact is so endear that we don’t see an active role for ourselves but they (the opposition should do this or that). Most see no role and/or at best passive and the rest is either Ousainou’s, Halifa’s, etc.
- It has made us failed to distinguish between a political agenda of a group and a national call for ‘The republic’ and ‘Democracy’. In fact am not too sure if many consider the two (party politics and the republic & democracy) very different in many ways.
- It made us missed many missed opportunities to educate, organize and mobilize citizens around ‘The Republic’ and ‘Democracy’.
- It has diminished our ability to rally the world of freedom to our cause, because we do not have any clearly articulated goal. Equally we couldn’t raise the needed resources and political leverage to dictate and control the change we are hoping for
- It has left us continually reshuffling and/or trying to reshuffle what is not there (some called it insanity doing the same thing repeatedly hoping a different outcome)
- Over time the processes employed at various efforts has created so much suspicions and mistrust that may be hard to overcome
Our best cause is a fight for ‘A Democratic Republic of The Gambia’ regardless who is president and/or farmer. After all this was what our nation was found to be. It’s hence a given! It’s a legitimate claim! It’s the only commonality we share as Gambians whether you support Yahya or Ousainou or Halifa or Waa Juwara, etc.!
The prerequisite of such a functioning democracy is capacitated citizenry. With such capable citizens one can count on the survival of democracy and rule of law. Until we succeed in elevating the quality of most of our citizens to that bare minimum of that ladder every president will take advantage of our ignorance in one form or another. A government, whether elected and/or acquire power through other means do not enjoy enlighten citizens because that erodes their ability to abuse.
Let us critically review our strategies and roles with a view to come up with practical and pragmatic political solution that do not outsource the task to some imaginary Gambians but you, me and everyone else. Being an operative in such political process will only be dictated by purpose and expertise and not whether you are in Banjul or London or New York.
Burama FL Jammeh
The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia
810 844 6040