By Baba Galleh Jallow
It is a tragic irony of African history that governments fail to develop their countries simply because they fail to develop their most abundant and most precious resources – their people. Following independence, most African governments physically stifled the development potentials of their countries by failing or refusing to appreciate what was obvious to enlightened minds – that the people must always come first. In order to achieve their personal ambitions, be these relevant to the nation or not, African leaders quickly transformed themselves into all-powerful rulers. They demanded perhaps not total personal obeisance so much as total obeisance to what for them was an image of their greatness, their metaphorical relevance to the national project, and their prestige on the global scene or specific parts of it. Some claimed non-alignment even while knowing that to be a chimera in the context of global politics, especially in the context of global cold war politics after independence. In all cases, they acted like all-powerful infallible rulers, not as sincere servant leaders of their people.
Some of these leaders-turned-rulers were erudite ideologues; some were distinguished medical doctors and men of letters. Yet, almost without exception, they did nothing to change the colonial character of the local state or the social culture of colonial subjecthood. Rather than encourage the flowering of the national mind, the growth of an independent mentality and the installment of human dignity as an inviolable cultural treasure, African leaders succumbed and continue to succumb to an inexplicable taste for power. Some clung on to power in the name of some vaguely defined and often illusory ideal; others clung on for fear of what might be unearthed after they leave office. And some clung on for all of the above, in addition to lucrative enticements from abroad to keep enemy ideologies out and pursue the ideological interests of foreign countries and not their own countries. Today, certain African rulers parrot the political lyrics of oriental absolutism under the cloak of self-righteous and parochial pseudo-religious humanism. Others ceaselessly utter confused noises about non-existent neo-colonial intrigues and conspiracies merely for their oppressive justificatory potentials.
In either case, the people’s intellectual energies are stifled, worse than they were under colonial rule. One notices a diminishing pattern of Africa’s brilliant human resources in the decades following independence. Under colonial rule, nationalist leaders of all ideological persuasions could criticize and challenge the government; newspapers could loudly protest and condemn the policies of the colonial state. Those so inclined could freely form and register political parties for the express purpose of opposing the colonial state. The colonial state did not want to lose power and did not want to be opposed. But it allowed itself to kneel before the power of public opinion and grant independence. Of course, there were external extenuating circumstances, such as for instance America’s insistence on decolonization after World War Two. What is clear today is that the level of political tolerance in colonial Africa was much higher than the level of political tolerance in some independent African countries. The dreams of independence could never be realized because the African people have no time to dream. Hyper-colonial obeisance to the State is loudly insisted upon and those who dare to suggest any possible alternatives to State opinion are neutralized, one way or the other. For some of these voices of reason, exile becomes their theater of physical existence, though their spirit never leaves home. Others continue to have their say anyway, regardless of what anyone under God does. These people are never out to destroy their country as alleged by oppressive African governments. In fact, they are entirely motivated by a passionate love of country; a love so strong they could never quit the search for political beauty for their country, regardless of potential personal dangers to themselves.
That the voice of the people is the voice of God is a popular mantra in the mouths of many African leaders. Sadly, it is often just that – a popular mantra that makes it much easier to justify anything and everything you do or want to do. In colonial Africa, it was the mantra the imperial state had to listen to, in spite of itself. In post-colonial Africa, it is the mantra the independent state uses to justify its brutal oppression of critical public opinion. The independent African state fails to realize that unlike the colonial state, it is not there to rule the people but to effectively empower the people so the people can rule themselves. The African state fails to realize that the idea of building up Africa from above and as an entity separate from its builders was among the major defining protestations of imperialism, until at least, the onset of so-called developmental colonialism after 1945. Under pressure to leave Africa, European imperial powers like Britain set in motion processes designed to turn their colonies into self-governing entities. African nationalist agitation flourished in the late forties and fifties and independence bequeathed to Africa a rich crop of intellectual giants, highly motivated and nationalistic professionals, and a vibrant population ready to rise up to the challenges of independent nation-hood.
Sadly, the governments and leaders that took over from the colonial state literally laid to waste this rich indigenous intellectual potential waiting to be put to good use. Newspapers, politicians and scholars who dared to suggest that there might have been an error on a government policy or action were systematically and deliberately silenced. The political divide that characterized the colonial body politic is physically reproduced as the state now insists upon identifying, naming, shaming, and silencing political critics and opponents. Society is divided into friends of the state and enemies of the state. It did not matter whether the opinions and ideas of these brilliant minds were essential to the very survival of the nation-state. What mattered was that they were not in line with what the government, read the leader, is saying or doing at the material time. The ideas of brilliant men like Ngugi Wa Thiong’o landed him in prison and eventually exile. In Ghana, an erudite sage in the person of Dr. J. B. Danquah was allowed to languish in jail and die of heart failure under preventive detention, despite repeated personal pleas to be released on the grounds that he was being unjustly held, but also on medical, humanitarian, even religious grounds. In Guinea, Diallo Telli was imprisoned and deliberately starved to death under Sekou Toure’s “Black Diet” treatment. In Gambia, Baboucarr Gaye’s Citizen FM was silenced and confiscated because he translated the local newspapers for the national edification of the non-English reading Gambian people; and they loved it! Deyda Hydara was gunned down for advising caution in the conduct of human affairs. His voice never rose beyond a calm and emphatic iteration that it is in the supreme interest of all human beings – especially those in power – to always act justly. Much more than the colonial state, independent African governments fear the power (which is to say the nourishing beauty) of ideas and suppress their countries’ intellectual resources in the name of ever failing “development plans” and fantastic vision end the hungers.
It is no wonder that in many African countries, vision years quietly pass while the vision still hangs on the wall. The good thing is that it is never mentioned in public again as if it never existed at all. Not to worry, there is always room on the wall for more vision abundant foods. The hungry people are asked to just be loyal; the government is coming to solve all their problems if they are seen to be loyal. They must not be impatient and must not worry too much about the hunger. The government has just issued vision end the hunger and the government will make sure that they do not remain hungry beyond vision year. Vision year comes and goes, and the people are still asked to be loyal and not to worry; there are still more visions on the way. And as for that well-fed one-percent who wants to destroy the country, they will be shown that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
A study of African governments is a study in mind-boggling political circuses that often make absolutely no sense, not even to the actors themselves, not to say their circus animals – the unquestioningly loyal crowds. In these circuses, the leader is the most powerful, in some cases the only really powerful actor. A colossal giant and whip master of the political sort, he looms large over everybody else, deadly whip in hand, smashing down anyone miles around who dares to get out of step with established state practice, even if such practice is destroying the country. The giant circus master cracks his whip left, right and center, anyhow he wishes, striking down anyone who pricks his fancy, regardless of their location within the ring or whether they are in fact the prop holders of the circus tent. Even the audience is not spared frequent lashes for its natural attention to what is going on.
It is high time, to parody Dr. J. B. Danquah, that African governments submit to the selectively unpleasant reality that development is about people, not things. Development as people is unpleasant only to a state more concerned with its personal interests, than with the wider historical and cultural interests of the people. Yes, the voice of the people is the Voice of God. But what use is the voice of the people if it is never heard or never listened to? What use loud and frequent references to the Voice of God when it is never heeded by the proclaimers themselves? Suffice it to say that all Power belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds.
“The independent African state fails to realize that unlike the colonial state, it is not there to rule the people but to effectively empower the people so the people can rule themselves.”
Baba, that is precisely the work that is left to be done. You the intellectuals of our era have a lot of responsibility to reach out to the people and clarified what this article has succintly explained in simple plain terms and in the indegenous languages of Africa.
As it has been said over and over, the period of National Liberation has passed. What is left is the second phase which is the period of Democratic Revolution, to empower the citizenry to take charge of their destiny through democratic methods by making the right choices through selection.
Many socalled intellectuals are over looking this important period which must equally be fought for in the most protracted manner. For citizens of Africa “to recognise that a Sovereign republic is a community of sovereign citizens who enjoy equal rights, freedoms and are entitled to derive equal benefits from public services, irrespective of place of birth, ethno-linguistic origin, religion, physical features, philosophy, gender and other demographic characteristics; sovereign persons in whom the sovereignty of the country resides and from whom the authority to manage the affairs of the community must be derived; (PDOIS Agenda 2016) ‘is indeed a herculean task’ my emphasis.
Little did we know that the African leader must himself/herself go through such a school like everyone else if we are to expect any meaningful change in the continent.
I am glad that you have identified like few did the key missing element serving as the biggest stumbling block to the emancipation of the African mind and ultimately the socio-economic challenges that beset the country.
You are indeed spot on and i applaud you.
Yerro Ba , Baba is a brilliant and honest individual who always present his write up in honest and truthful manner . Here is the quote below from Baba’s brilliant article which suit the mindset of PDOIS and Halifa in particular,
“Hyper-colonial obeisance to the State is loudly insisted upon and those who dare to suggest any possible alternatives to State opinion are neutralized, one way or the other. For some of these voices of reason, exile becomes their theater of physical existence, though their spirit never leaves home. Others continue to have their say anyway, regardless of what anyone under God does. These people are never out to destroy their country as alleged by oppressive African governments. In fact, they are entirely motivated by a passionate love of country; a love so strong they could never quit the search for political beauty for their country, regardless of potential personal dangers to themselves”.
Recently, your leader, Halifa called Diaspora Warmongers but he failed to understand that Diaspora’s love for the country is the main reason for their continue efforts to change the status quo which pdois has been legitimizing for the past 21 years. Therefore , Baba’s statement above clearly described the mindset of Halifa and PDOIS who are antagonistic to diaspora. Diaspora is not the enemy of the Gambia as suggested by Jammeh and Halifa Sallah , Diaspora is providing better alternative to change the status quo because they have live and experience the most democratic values in many civilized countries and our efforts is motivated by a passionate love of country as Baba indicated. Therefore Halifa has falsely and malicious stated the position of Diaspora and He would be no different from jammeh when he is in power based on his statement. .
Here is another quote which directly talked about the character , temperament and nature of your leader , Halifa Sallah who always show self-righteousness, confused noises and lack of open-mind in his politics as well as his pseudo-opposition leader status designed to justify oppressive forces in the form of military dictatorship . Please read this brilliant quote from Baba as stated below, it clearly described both Jammeh and Halifa Sallah in our current political predicament.
“Today, certain African rulers parrot the political lyrics of oriental absolutism under the cloak of self-righteous and parochial pseudo-religious humanism. Others ceaselessly utter confused noises about non-existent neo-colonial intrigues and conspiracies merely for their oppressive justificatory potentials”.
The above quote effectively described Jammeh who always used “parochial pseudo-religious humanism” which justify his oppressive laws and potentials as suggested in Baba’s article while Halifa of all people continue to show or “parrot political lyrics of oriental absolutism under the cloak of self-righteousness”. This is the diagnoses of Gambia’s current predicament and political oppression . I hope you read this respond with an open-mind but not with the mindset of people like Halifa who considered Diaspora as enemies of the country.
Max, we have to appreciate Baba for who he is. A voice of conscience and reason who steadfastly stands for what he believes, and refuse to compromise himself.
Don’t hide behind Baba because Baba is not speaking for you. Baba is speaking to the issues, the contemporary political issues, that challenge Africa’s quest to consolidate its democratic aspirations. He is a scholar. He speaks truth to power.
Baba is our Professor Lumumba. He tells it like it is. Don’t draw him into your partisan political bickering.
He has manage to stay away from our diaspora politics and issues. And I am sure he would like to keep it that way.
As usual, Baba, thank you for another great piece.
Kamalo, I can see your hypocrisy in this argument because Yero Ba has stated his view on the areas he think that support pdois , you have no problems about that and i have stated my views on areas which are in line with pdois antagonistic and legitimizing attitude for dictatorship,you are have a problem with that view and you are angry . Baba is a brilliant writer who I respect and always consider a hero . His write up is a brilliant diagnose of our current government and pdois in my view . This is why I took my analysis from his article and showcased the manner it has accurately diagnosed Jammeh’s regime and Halifa sallah in particular. You cannot deny that Halifa see diaspora as an enemy of The Gambia and diaspora is the warmongers.
Stop your hypocrisy. Baba has been writing for a long time to educate Gambians about the regime human rights violations, constitutional violations and impunity in our country and Africa in general. For you to lie that Baba ” has manage to stay away from our diaspora politics and issues ” is dishonesty and disingenuous. You can’t lie about people in the broad day light . You and pdois disciples have this character of lying to suit your selfish and dirty ends . Baba is doing very good job to educate Gambians and he has always stand for freedom , rule of law and democracy. His expertise and experience is what we need to diagnose our political predicament so that we can rescue our country from military dictatorship. Don’t your little and dishonest mind know that Baba too was a victim of this regime . The issue here under discussion is not about Baba as an individual but the messages or his write up which is why I pointed out segment of his article that clearly defined Halifa sallah and pdois. You should have centered your discussion on the substance of his write up but not the writer himself . I am sure Baba will appreciate that but a political hypocrite and indocrinated individual cannot distinguish between the national issue and individual . This is why you continue to foolishly and ignorantly defend Halifa sallah . Please take Baba’s as a person out of your narrow partisan defensive propaganda but focus on his article or writing which I talked about . I hope you distinguish the two . The essence of having a brilliant mind is to learn from it and this is why I made reference to Baba’s article but for you to say that I shouldn’t make reference to such a brilliant mind is hypocrisy and dishonesty .
Thank you Baba for your brilliant write up . Keep writing.
“Kamalo, I can see your hypocrisy in this argument because Yero Ba has stated his view on the areas he think that support pdois , you have no problems about that and i have stated my views on areas which are in line with pdois antagonistic and legitimizing attitude for dictatorship,you are have a problem with that view and you are angry .”
Max, but the problem is this is not about PDOIS. And how does the quote you cited bear any resemblance to PDOIS or its politics? The inference is at best disingenuous and at worst malicious.
The contents of the quote is far removed from anything that you want to associate with PDOIS. It does not suit the mindset of either PDOIS or Halifa. You are just
making it up.
“Baba is a brilliant writer who I respect and always consider a hero . His write up is a brilliant diagnose of our current government and pdois in my view .”
Your view about PDOIS is wrong. What is there in the quote that uphold your view that PDOIS has an antagonistic and legitimizing attitude for the dictatorship? There is none. You are just making it up.
“This is why I took my analysis from his article and showcased the manner it has accurately diagnosed Jammeh’s regime and Halifa sallah in particular.”
Well, so much for an analysis. It that is what you call an analysis, I wonder what would be called a subjective tendency and inclination.
” You cannot deny that Halifa see diaspora as an enemy of The Gambia and diaspora is the warmongers.”
I deny that Halifa see diaspora as an enemy of the Gambia. There is no justification for him to see the diaspora in that way.
I deny also that Halifa see the diaspora as a warmonger, but I can fathom him seeing you as a warmonger. There is ample justification from your statements here if he should make that inference.
” Stop your hypocrisy. Baba has been writing for a long time to educate Gambians about the regime human rights violations, constitutional violations and impunity in our country and Africa in general.”
Where do I dispute that Baba has been writing for a long time to educate Gambian….. In fact, I attest to this fact. That he is a scholar.
” For you to lie that Baba ” has manage to stay away from our diaspora politics and issues ” is dishonesty and disingenuous.”
No, it is not. Unless, as always, you misconstrued “diaspora politics and issues” and the context in which I make the statement.
Yes, the diaspora has their own politics and issues. What else do you think we are doing? You are writing your nonsense and we are responding to make sense out of the nonsense.
You are making all kinds of allegations and insinuations, and we are writing to debunk those allegations and insinuations.
You have your issues clothed with political dishonesty. And we are responding to those issues to cloth them with political honesty.
Baba writes his contributions on any given subject and issue. It is always scholarly and to the point. And he leaves it at that.
For the many years that I have known Baba on the discussion forums, I haven’t noticed him participating in an exchange like the one we are having. Or any other exchange that speak to our “diaspora politics and issues.”.
You have personalize the issues by bringing Halifa into it at every given moment. And you have made the issues partisan by deliberately trying to discredit PDOIS.
“You can’t lie about people in the broad day light . You and pdois disciples have this character of lying to suit your selfish and dirty ends .”
Now that you understand the context in which I used the phrase “diaspora politics and issues”, I hope you will retract your accusation that I am lying about other people.
” Baba is doing very good job to educate Gambians and he has always stand for freedom , rule of law and democracy. His expertise and experience is what we need to diagnose our political predicament so that we can rescue our country from military dictatorship”
I have no problem with your summation.
“Don’t your little and dishonest mind know that Baba too was a victim of this regime .”
Did I say anything to the contrary? I do not think so.
“The issue here under discussion is not about Baba as an individual but the messages or his write up which is why I pointed out segment of his article that clearly defined Halifa sallah and pdois.”
The issue here under discussion is not about Baba as an individual, but you managed to make it about Halifa as an individual.
And the message or his write up you have managed to associate with Halifa and PDOIS. And you do not see a problem with any of that. And you are calling me a hypocrite?
The rest of your stuff is just what it is. Classical Max, that we are all now familiar with.
Kamalo , the message in this write up was what suit Halifa . It best described his character, temperament and political behavior which was why I made reference about the segment of the article. Halifa is a political leader aspiring to be president of The Gambia thus the issue is about him because his judgement, character , integrity and temperament matters as long as the office of presidency is concerned. It was this reason that his determination that diaspora are warmongers is indeed a serious concern and it even disqualify him to be leader of our country . This is because he has antagonistic attitude towards diaspora who are playing a significant role in our national development. As I said before , Halifa will not be different from Jammeh who categorized diaspora in the same position. This article present a series of diagnoses for our current problems which Halifa is part and parcel of.
You are acting like Hitler’s propaganda chief: Repeat a LIE so often and it will become the “truth”.
Unfortunately, you live in the wrong era to success in turning your repeated lies to the truth…No matter how much you repeat this line, you will never succeed in changing what Mr Sallah stated about the warmongers in the diaspora.
The truth that you will never be able to change is that Mr Sallah’s statement DID NOT refer to the entire diaspora…But keep trying…
Bax , the chief propagandists here are you, disciples. Yero Ba has inserted the pdois agenda 2016 to make a case that seem to put Baba’s article in line with pdois agenda . That is the biggest propaganda. Why did he not simply quote from the article and make his case but he has to dishonestly quoted pdois agenda and inserted it to suit his selfish political end . that is dishonesty you ought to be talking about . It was Halifa who called diaspora warmongers and he has considered diaspora as the enemy of the country . That is the fact you cannot deny . We love our country and that is why we are fighting to change the status quo for the benefits of all. Are you implying that we hate our country?
Why are you objecting to Yero Ba’s quotation…? How many times have you provided links to Foroyaa to make your points…? Should you also be considered selfish…?
You are lying again. Halifa has never called anyone an “enemy” of the country, as far as I know, nor did he call the entire diaspora, “warmongers” but you (Max) are certainly among the war mongers, as far as I am concerned, and a cowardly one, for that matter..
Where did I even give the slightest impression that you hate your country, never mind imply so…? Please, behave yourself..!!!
Thank you Yerro. Your feedback is very much appreciated. Identifying some of the key obstacles to our progress is certainly important. It is a first step, a prelude o thinking out how to remove those obstacles.
Brilliant piece that lays to bare the root causes of Africa’s seemingly, insurmountable problems, but logically defeatable challenges, within a reasonably short period, with the right leadership.
@Kamalo, do you really appreciate Baba’s reference of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o; his incarceration and his subsequent forced exile by despotism similar to the one present in the Gambia?
What of his mention of Deyda Hydra’s gunning down and the motives behind it; it got me interest in seeing Foroyaa’s report of that horrible killing.
Aren’t you Pdois the freaky free politicians in the Gambia whose liberty can never be tampered with……….or you are saying it a way I the layman won’t easily understand?
“Kamalo , the message in this write up was what suit Halifa . It best described his character, temperament and political behavior which was why I made reference about the segment of the article.”
That is not true. This write has nothing to do with Halifa. No matter how hard you try to make it as such you always come across as vindictive, and as someone who is intentionally an deliberately trying to malign Hlifa’s character. You wear this malicious intent and your garment of malice shows everywhere in this medium.
“Halifa is a political leader aspiring to be president of The Gambia thus the issue is about him because his judgement, character , integrity and temperament matters as long as the office of presidency is concerned.”
This does not give you the right to say untruthful things about him. You have not hidden your desire to do just that. And trust me, it is not taking you and it will not take you anywhere. You can form your opinion about Halifa. It is not tempered with sincerity and your cloak of insincerity becomes apparent like a coat of many colors.
“It was this reason that his determination that diaspora are warmongers is indeed a serious concern and it even disqualify him to be leader of our country. ”
That is not true. The determination is that people like you in the diaspora are warmongers. And you have vindicated him by your constant warmongering. Those who ring the bells of war wear the armor of warmongers. And you wearing that armor.
You are in your own kind of war. Your war does not affect Hlafa’s qualification to be a leader of our country.
“This is because he has antagonistic attitude towards diaspora who are playing a significant role in our national development.”
This is blatantly untrue as it is untruly blatant. I cannot even see it as an opinion. It is intentionally malicious.
“As I said before , Halifa will not be different from Jammeh who categorized diaspora in the same position. This article present a series of diagnoses for our current problems which Halifa is part and parcel of.”
Stop being disingenuous. The diaspora is not a monolithic group. You are one of the warmongers. You have been beating here the drums of war. You are the one who is not different from the warmongers.
Please read the editorial below. Halifa will never be president of The Gambia.
Max, there is this common understanding among most Gambians that the incumbent cannot be defeated in an election. This is so because there are all the outward manifestations of invincibility. He cannot be defeated.
The system and the process favors him, and he has an undue advantage over all the other competitors. This is what we see.
However, there are some imperceptible changes that may go on. We cannot discern and neither could we see these changes. An accumulation of these quantitative changes can lead to a qualitative change. A change of the status quo.
How surprise will Gambians be, that on December 1st the incumbent is not declared as the winner. This is an impossibility. It cannot happen. Yet it can happen.
The point is we should not underestimate the change process. Or how change can happen. Beyond December 1st no one knows what can happen or could happen.
Regardless, there are these imperceptible changes. There can be a leap. A change from one political reality to be replaced by another political reality.
When? And how? I do not know.
Halifa is a presidential candidate. Everyone is free to form their opinion about him.
What we have objected to, and responded to, is the tendency for people to lie about him.