Re: Independence Revisited

JawaraBy Dodou Jawneh

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.


One Comment

  1. Revisiting historical hallmarks like our independence, is also about learning from our shortcomings.
    Mr. Jawara’s administration is interconnected with the Gambia ‘s contemporary history. As a result, its shortcomings are intermittently connected with the shortcomings of the country.
    An increasing number of people are looking for the root causes of our predicament today. The colonial power has its own fair share of the blame. But since we can’t afford to permanently look for blame elsewhere, we are forced to do a self reflection. That is why I appreciate the initiative of Mr. Baba Galleh Jallow and others, to layout a historical thesis without prior bias, upon which we can reflect upon.
    For me the most formative shortcomings of the first Republic, with far reaching consequences for our land, are the following:
    –》Perpetuity of President: Mr. Jawara was long time at the helm of the state. Even if he was a model president at the time, the mere longevity inevitably leads to lacklustre attitude. The president lost identification touch with the people and many serving under him have tended to fend for themselves.
    –》Administering instead of designing a concept how the country need to be: The ideals of independence was not followed up to include an encompassing economic, social and political reawakening, where the sovereign people are engaged to the core and encouraged to take the destiny of our country into our hand. That each and every one is obliged to contribute and protect the Republic. The power preservation became the preoccupation. This was the defining characteristics of ppp after the 1981 coup.
    –》 1981 coup: instead of looking at the root causes that led to that infamous bloodshed, the gov’t continued to act in business as usual. Confederation with Senegal was abruptly implemented without a referendum -for the first time since iindependece. Legitimate voices of dissatisfaction were ignored and the failure to recognise public discontent led Jawara to retract his vow to resign in 1992.
    Going forward, while we acknowledge the civility, relative economic prosperity and the delicate hand with which Kairaba steared the affairs of our country, we must continue to hold the shortcomings of the first Republic as they are in any civilised country. I.e as references for guidelines while we hatch out a new Gambia.
    Thanks Jawneh for the RE.