Take it or leave, tribalism is institutionalized in the Gambia’s cultural, socioeconomic and political life thanks to Dictator Jammeh came. That has been his goal since the first day he stepped into Jawara’s shoes in 1994. Dictator Jammeh has been on record over and over condemning Mandinkas for their opposition to his (Jammeh’s) government. The hate-filled leader expressed his tribal vitriol against the country’s majority tribe on many occasions. This is evidenced by Dictator Jammeh’s numerous outbursts in many political meetings. His Mandinka phobia is felt every where within the government. Mandinkas’ only crime — if there exists any — is to form a majority in a country where all tribes get along well until Devil Jammeh arrived.
In 2013, president Jammeh has instructed his then Presidential Affairs Minister, Momodou Sabally to castigate Mandinkas and branded the UDP as “a Mandinka party and that UDP supporters are unpatriotic Gambians who are smearing the image of the country abroad.” It is now normal routine for the Dictator to set other tribes against the Mandinkas. Dictator Jammeh’s incitement of violence and urge of other tribes to stand up against Mandinkas has reached a level that can lead to systematic targeting and killing of Mandinkas in the Gambia.
During his country tour recently, Dictator Jammeh went further to indicate that “I will kill you like ants and no western country can do anything about it. Who are you to disrespect other tribes. The Gambia is not a Mandinka country and there will be no Mandinka government in this country again,” barked an ungrateful man who would never have been President without the help of Mandinkas.
This latest attack on Mandinka ethnicity is the most dangerous precedent Jammeh has set for future tribal conflict in the country. Such a hateful speech does not only deserve to be condemned but it should also be used as basis to remove Jammeh from power by any means necessary. Jammeh’s tribal castigation and hatred against Mandinkas is a threat to our national security and our peaceful co-existence as one people. In the course of history, we heard about leaders who used narrow tribal differences to propagate their selfish political and economic interest. This has happened in Rwanda in 1994 when an estimated eight hundred thousand or more Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by members of Hutu milia which was aided by a tribal Hutu government. Hutu were majority in the Rwanda’s military and occupied top positions in the government just like today Jolas in the Gambia occupy top positions in our security apparatus such as Gambia national army, National Intelligence Agency and the police.
It is time for all decent Gambians, irrespective of political affiliations and tribal origin, to distance themselves from Jammeh’s tribal hatred against Mandinkas and openly show their condemnation for the sake of our country’s security and peaceful co-existence as one family.
According to the recent census, Mandinkas formed about 42 percent of the population of the Gambia. Dictator Jammeh has made it an official policy to continue his tribal vitriol against half of the country population which are Mandinkas. This is demonstrated in the composition of his cabinet and senior government positions as Mandinkas represent less than ten percent of top positions in his government. Jammeh’s hatred against Mandinkas is so prevalent that he has exiled majority of Mandinka youths in the country mainly because of political persecution and outright employment discrimination against Mandinka speaking people in the country. During his tour of the country last year, Mr. Jammeh highlighted his government’s policy of not hiring Mandinka speaking citizens. He prefers to hire no Mandinkas to occupy positions and employment opportunities in the country. Today eighty-five percent of youths who took the back way to Europe are Mandinkas and even in Europe, Jammeh continues to target Mandinkas for what he called “their lies” against his government when they look for economic security and political asylum in those countries. He has sent his agents to Europe and the USA to spy on Mandinkas and also ensure they are deported to the Gambia where they continue to face daily persecution. Mandinka youths who are in the Gambia’s Armed Forces and other security apparatus continue to face daily harrassment, intimidation and false allegations of being anti-regime. Some were set up and arrested for speaking Mandinka language in their work places while others were fired because of their Mandinka origin. How long does this institutionalized discriminatory tactic and human rights violations would end is any body’s guess. One thing I know is that such a horrific and open tribal vitriol and systematic tribal hatred and discrimination will lead our country into national disintegration and political abyss if left unstopped immediately. It is time for Mandinkas to stand up against Jammeh’s tribal vitriol and claim their rights as citizens of the Gambia. Other tribes should join forces with Mandinka majority not to support and tolerate Dictator Jammeh’s tribal vitriol any more. Failure for other tribes to condemn and repudiate Jammeh’s tribal discord openly is tantamount to failure in their responsibilities as citizens in the face of destruction of the fundamental fabric of our society and peaceful co-existence of our people. Let each and every Gambian remember that, before Dictator Jammeh came to power, there existed our country which will always remain no matter how this regime wants to systematically destroy our country.
From now on, Mandinkas in the Gambia and around the world should boycott Jammeh’s businesses, his political meetings and resign from their positions in his government. Those in security services should work with patriotic citizens from other tribes to ensure that Dictator Jammeh become history in short possible time. Our jola brothers and sisters in the military must also realize that their future is not in the hands of a Dictator but their future lies in the Gambian people as collective family. Every decent Gambian must take a stand to get rid of cancer of our society.