By Ousman Jarra
History has taught us that society does not change when people sit down and do nothing but it only does when they demand their rights to be free. My reasons are numerous, from the murder of the students in April 2000, enforced disappearances, tortures, illegal detentions, repressive legislations which resulted in fewer rights. These are the effect of 21 years of APFRC/APRC rule.
Secondly, I feel that without condemnation there will be no opportunity for our people to succeed against President Jammeh’s principle of “SADISTIC PLEASURE”. Yes I call him a sadist because he references the prison system as the Five Star Hotel and his threats to deny our people development should they choose to vote for the opposition, even though, they are citizens and tax payers. This is simply dishonest and unkindly. Moreover, the systematic derailments of the little standards the PPP [People’s Progressive Party] Government created is very disturbing, where positions are rendered not base on Merit but loyalty (yes-man, bootlicker, stooge). This kind of process has secondary effect where the productivity of civil service is almost non-existence because is a “ONE MAN” show. If there is any decision to be made the Director or Minister has to get the confirmation from the President. In addition, people cannot elect their SEYFO or Alkalo anymore, since the President knows who is best suitable person for that those position, this kind of disregard of people’s right is almost compared to the SERFDOM OF THE MIDDLE AGES. The consequences of these policies are economic decay, rivalry (where nobody trust each other, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor), as a result people live in constant fear, worrying at the dark of the night that their love ones will disappear without a trace, and stagnation where the purchasing power of average citizen has dropped almost to the point of starvation and the youths embark on the journey to Europe through the back way because THE RIVER RUNS DRY; NO MORE HOPE LEFT FOR THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE.
Finally, my family are at the first hand receiving end of brutalities of the AFPRC/APRC regimes. My uncle A.A Njie and my grand uncle Mathew Yaya Baldeh both were parliamentarians of the PPP Government, the never ending arrest, humiliations, detentions resulted in their untimely death. Some of my family members have their properties confiscated after being accused of corruption and taken to kangaroo courts. In addition, Ousman Koro Ceesay was murdered in cold blood and until today nobody has been arrested for the crime and his parents went to their grave without getting justice for their son. MAY THEIR SOULS REST IN PERFECT PEACE. And most recently Amadou Sanneh was tortured beyond recognition and paraded on the National TV to humiliate him and upon the sight of the images my 89-year-old mother was crying. Furthermore, Yusupha Saidy is still in detention and never been charged with a crime or get a chance to defend himself in court. These people are my blood and their suffering is mine too and I will not relent my effort to return sanity to the country.
On the other hand, I want to see a Gambia where everybody has access to clean water, food sufficiency (where everybody can eat a balance diet everyday), have quality healthcare where every patient is approached with consideration of their physical, psychological, social, and spiritual, in the management and prevention of disease, because it is underpinned by the concept that there is a link between our physical health and our more general well being. People are dying young of diseases that are manageable such as HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE and Diabetes living behind their widowed wives with young children to raise mostly in poverty. Moreover, a Gambia where everybody moves freely in their country without being subjected to searches and can criticize their Government or the President as they deem fit. Furthermore, I want every Gambian to have equal political rights regardless of their political affiliation because without them our disabilities will be permanent. In addition, I want MERITOCRACY to govern our society, and no child’s birth place or tribe should be an impediment toward their success. You can come from Banjul, Sare Gainako , Jarumehkoto, Sutukoba, or Katchang but if you are the smartest kid around the block you should be awarded scholarship. I want a Gambia where the Government is small and vibrant private sector and deliver jobs with a living wage, transparent and accountable to its citizens. I want to set up a GROCERY CHAIN for the market women of the Serekunda Market so that they don’t have to sit under the hot sun the whole day just to sell their produce. Moreover, teach them money management skills, such as balancing a checkbook and how to maintain a healthy saving. Finally, revive the good old COOPERATIVE UNION, I remember as a young cooperative inspector in the mid 1980’s when one man will bring 150 bags of groundnut for sale and how elated he will be after receiving payment for his hard work. This is the dream I hope to live for, and see it realized, and this is dream I want to die for.
In conclusion, I am not in this struggle to be anybody’s leader or rival but in it to be everybody’s foot soldier and within that union my dignity and independence are non-negotiable. To President Jammeh, history has taught us that society does not change when people sit down and do nothing, therefore, our struggle against your regime is truly a national one based on our experience and the suffering of our people.