I have earlier entertained the notion that had Jawara left power and handed it over to someone else the coup might not have taken place. This view has changed somewhat over the years, and I am now coming to terms more and more that subversive elements/Africa’s military juntas would always devise justifications for their dastardly actions. Kukoi cited the need to institute a Marxist Leninist polity in the Gambia. Jammeh blaming the ‘rampant’ corruption that he was unable to substantiate beyond reasonable doubt, and worse still failed to curb as he actively partakes in it.
Undoubtedly, the Jawara regime did not meet all our expectations. The common grievance being his longevity in power, a phenomenon symptomatic of the wider region; the two-term limit formula only coming into currency in the mid to late 1990s.
Crucially, we should never pretend that our governments, the past, present or future regimes, can meet all expectations. Therefore those who abrogate our fundamental laws and denied us our fundamental rights should be made to take that responsibility for themselves rather than apportion blame. However, if we agree that the former regime’s performance inevitably leads to that of the next, then analyst should prioritise highlighting the democratic values that we have had (recognised at the time as novelty in the region) and lament the failure of the successor regime to consolidate those values. It is also my view that the Gambian movements for governance reform since 1994 have made the strategic error, almost a fatal one, by concentrating too much attention recalling the ills of the past to explain the rationale for the decadent rule of the present. The impact is, first and foremost, an inadvertent endorsement of the traitor’s narrative.
Secondly a significant proportion of the population, particularly the younger generation, are left with the notion that the present is an improvement on the past, when the reverse is the case. It may have also contributed to the making of a more polarised movement that needed unity to succeed. In total, this is perhaps instrumental in enhancing the dictator’s grip on power and thereby making the Gambia lag behind other countries in the region on account of democratic governance.
Irrespective of my strongly held views, Dr Jallow’s arguments on this subject are clear and concise as always, and has given me new and useful ideas just as in the old days.