May God Save Dear Little Gambia Part 2

SaulBy Sulayman (Saul) Saidykhan

We have five opposition candidates lined up against Yaya Jammeh: Halifa Sallah, Hamat Bah, Mama Kandeh, Adama Barrow, and Dr. Isatou Touray. I’ve listened to and read many people with divergent views on them all. I find some of the views quite perplexing to say the least. That is because while it is true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no one is entitled to their own set of facts especially if those facts are conjured up or bereft of basic logic. My late maternal grandma used to say that “anytime someone says ‘everybody is equal’, he or she has insulted someone”. I believe this with all my heart because my grandma was concerned about the danger of what we now call “false equivalence” which is so prevalent in Gambian discourse. The five opposition candidates we have are not the same by any stretch of the imagination as some want us to believe. The records and background of the candidates speak for themselves. One of the annoying – and damaging things to our national ethos that we have picked up in this Yaya Jammeh era especially is the normalization of Public Lies! We meet publicly, and smile at each other, but when it comes to discussing important issues honestly, everybody scratches their head, and murmur to those in their Comfort Circles what they truly believe, then turn around and lie to everybody else!

Halifa Sallah who is a professionally trained sociologist came into our lives formally in 1986 with the launch of PDOIS and its flagship newspaper Foroyaa. In their early years, the party rented a two-room apartment across from the incomplete mosque in Bundung. I used to stop there with some neighborhood friends to read their paper on our way to or from our GCE studies at Nusrat High School in the evenings. I do not recognize either their party or the paper from the ones I knew back then anymore, but thirty years on, Mr. Sallah continues to co-manage the various branches of PDOIS. He has a solid resume’ that qualifies him to seek the Gambian presidency in my view.

Hamat Bah heads the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) and has for the past twenty years now. However, if truth be told, Hamat Bah is more remarkable for what we don’t know about him than what we do. Twenty years in the Gambian lime light and Hamat to a large extent still remains a mystery. There is a certain opaqueness about Hamat’s operation style that emits red signals to discerning minds. In Forensic Auditing, there is a rule: an individual cannot spend more than he or she legitimately earns. This is the basic starting point used by all US government agencies – D.O.J, FBI, SEC, etc. in their fraud investigations. But mention this to Africans, and immediately some people scream tribal persecution. Even when all the tell-tale signs are there! Just look at what’s going on in Nigeria. We Africans want to develop but we’re unwilling to follow the path others took to get there. We can only hope time will take care of that. Regardless, the little we know about Hamat Bah does not qualify him in any way to be president in this day and age: some GCE Ordinary Level passes in High School, then several years as an Entertainment Manager at a Hotel does not make a resume’ that prepares one for taking on the arduous task of changing the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet. Remember “learning on the job” hasn’t worked out so well for us with our current trainee after twenty-two years on the job.

As is for Hamat Bah, we now have an even more unqualified candidate in the person of Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress traversing the Gambia wanting to replace Yaya Jammeh. Whereas we are at least familiar with Hamat, Kandeh is an almost entirely unknown quantity with even more baggage than Bah: for ten years, Kandeh was part of the group that rubber-stamped and helped concentrate in Jammeh’s hands some of the most noxious and oppressive laws that Jammeh now uses to terrorize Gambians “legally.” So it’s rather convenient for Kandeh to suddenly develop a conscience only after Yaya Jammeh had kicked him out of his party. He reportedly traveled to Germany and after years there returned home with millions of Dalasi the source of which we do NOT know. And we’re being told not to ask any questions about this. Worse, the man does not even have a High School education. Seriously! Are we Gambians so stupid or desperate that we’ll let someone like this man be our president? Exactly what does he have to offer us? I have watched and listened to every video about Mama Kandeh on YouTube and I wish I had found something inspiring. Sadly, I have to say that Mama Kandeh is NOT a compliment to Gambian politics! People need to get over their blind ethnic nationalism or sentimentalism and look at the larger good of The Gambia. Mama Kandeh speaks well in vernacular, and looks good especially compared to Yaya Jammeh. But who doesn’t? Yaya Jammeh is a brutish half baboon for goodness sakes! Otherwise, Mama is a noise-maker, an empty barrel. Anyone with an eye for details can’t miss the clues:

In his 42 minutes’ video on YouTube posted in July, he said repeatedly at a rally that Jammeh only has three months left in office. Even my seven-year-old daughter knows how many months there are between July and December. So we know his arithmetic is terrible. However, his weakness goes beyond math. In the colorful flyer introducing him to Gambians as GDC leader there is a grammatical error. His supporters quickly jumped on those that pointed this out with insults because “English is not our language.” (see comments on Facebook.) That may be true, but it speaks volumes about Mama Kandeh’s level of education and judgment that he’ll print posters of himself without first editing the text or having someone with the competence to do so. At the very basic level, how hard is it to write a correct poster with less than a dozen words? But the deal-breaker for me is Mama Kandeh’s red herring touting of himself as the candidate who “doesn’t want to seek any revenge.” At first glance, this sounds innocuous and reconciliatory, but coming from someone like him, it really is patronizing and hypocritical. Here is the reality. If one looks at the present Gambian diaspora, one finds cold blooded murderers living among us – former bosom buddies of Yaya Jammeh, body guards, killers, mercenaries, concubines, sundry enablers, apologists and all manner of criminals that did horrible things to other Gambians for this brutal tyrant for selfish reasons. Yet they go about their business and mingle with Gambians unmolested. Any other people would have brought some of these shameless crooks to justice just like Obama did with his Al Qaeda enemies by now. My point is, Gambians are not into this revenge nonsense Mama Kandeh and his kind allude to. Instead, all Gambians want is to get our country back from the clutches of a crazy murderous tyrant! We don’t care for revenge. I’m so sick of this dog-whistling nonsense especially from people who until recently were bedmates with Jammeh! Mama is being clever by half. When your main selling point is that you are not interested in seeking revenge, by implication, you’re saying that someone else is or may be interested in seeking revenge. It’s bull crap dirty politics. It’s no coincidence that Mama Kandeh is being embraced by APRC members: There’s no philosophical or policy difference between Mama and them. Had Jammeh not kicked Kandeh out, he’d in all probability still be rubber-stamping laws that oppress Gambians further! Mama should be thankful that Gambians generally seem incapable of paying attention to details or remembering anything. Otherwise, he’d be a national joke by now. What he has communicated in his outing so far doesn’t pass the smell test. Does someone who fail such rudimentary test fit to be president? I think not!

Even as an ethnic candidate, how is this man a good representation of The Gambian Fulani given the choice of intellectuals in that community? I don’t get it. Are we so stupid and blind that we cannot see an impending disaster in broad daylight? By the way, like Hamat, everything we know about Kandeh is through second-hand sources because the man in all the propaganda material we see or hear about him – pamphlet or speeches hasn’t told us a thing about what qualifies him for the job he is seeking.

The UDP also unveiled Adama Barrow as their flagbearer close to two weeks ago. Thankfully, Mr. Barrow was kind enough to provide us what he brings to the table in terms of resume. Because we are a country of crazy people, someone actually called me to tout the man as a businessman. I tried to disabuse the fellow of the misconception but he thought I was just trying to give him a hard time. I do not know Mr. Barrow personally, and god knows I have nothing but utmost respect for the brother for the risk he has taken and is taking to help free Gambians. But I feel an obligation to help Gambians decipher some things because we Gambians are one utterly confused and misinformed people. In this day and age, there is a big difference between businessmen and merchants. Businessmen take loans, draw up plans to hire help, generate revenue, pay back their loan, and taxes, then devise and strategize ways of growing their business over years. Often, those Business Plans have to be approved by the lenders. Merchants on the other hand, buy from businesses to sell to small retailers or end users. From Mr. Barrow’s own testimony, he strikes me as a merchant without any real modern business credentials that could serve us valuably at the national level. Besides that, he had a High School diploma, but no formal employment history either. Overall, there’s hardly anything to write home about. The brother is clearly unqualified for the presidency. Not to recognize that is to confirm one’s marriage to sentimentalism.

The most refreshing aspect of Mr. Barrow’s investiture is his avowed commitment to joining forces with his colleagues to form a united front to present a single candidate against tyrant Yaya Jammeh. He should be true to his word by ensuring that he whips his troops to fall in line behind a unified opposition candidate.

If there is one thing we are absolutely certain about in Africa after sixty years of political independence, it is that not only do unqualified semi-literate persons not make good leaders, they also have a tendency to insist on clinging onto power till death! And they employ primordial sentiments to divide their countries in order to remain in office. We have countless cases all over our continent. So why are so many of us keeping quiet over this madness to promote clearly unqualified candidates? Moral cowardice? Afraid of being called tribalist? What a country! Please mark me as the number one tribalist if you will, but I’ll be darned if I’ll keep quiet and let another half-educated fool condemn me to die in exile! Anyone my age who doesn’t understand the importance of having an educated leader in our country is a darn idiot! I mean it.

For what it’s worth, if a genuine election is to hold, my vote will go to Dr. Touray for multiple reasons.

I prefer competence and record to ANY party tag or lack thereof.
She is unaffiliated with any of the existing parties and will therefore save us from the ridiculous “math problem” of the past 14 years that has ruined every attempt to form a coalition against the lunatic tyrant Yaya Jammeh. However, being unaffiliated doesn’t mean being aloof. Dr. Touray needs to reach out to all the parties and show deference especially for the sacrifices they’ve made over the years. She needs to woo the older opposition groups, not the other way around. The larger opposition parties that already have structures all over the country will prove invaluable in this endeavor. Finally, Dr. Touray needs to be wary of some of us in the diaspora. Enough said.

She is NOT a career politician and will only serve 5 years which will enable everyone to sit at the table as compatriots and hammer out a genuine constitution reflective of Gambians’ desire for a future to prevent a recurrence of the horror of the present and recent past.

This is not to question anybody’s patriotism or intention. However, the problem is, neither patriotism nor good intention in and of themselves build countries. Skills and knowledge do. If anything, true patriotism should spur ALL the opposition leaders to come together to rally around one candidate to save our country from the crazy tyrant tearing it at the seams. We can choose as a country to respect ourselves by dignifying the exalted office of president by refusing to endorse candidates who lack certain basic MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS or we can keep up the current path of desecrating the office. Regardless of the semantics one may read or hear, the simple truth is our tiny country is really messed up because we routinely let ourselves be consumed by primordial sentiments instead of being faithful to the truth or letting “justice guide our actions” as enshrined in our national anthem.



  1. Healthy argument Sulayman; our common collective destiny as a people must justify our resolve to act in unison to avert the catastrophic state of anarchy Gambia came to be plagued with for the past 22 years & counting…

    It’s been proven time & again before (that), our opposition leaders won’t swallow their prides for all to rally behind another JUST to salvage the country & our very own selves FIRST; one party leadership will throw one tantrum upon another in DENIALS, whilst their refusals to HARMONIZE, in effect, IS ALLOWING the CONTINUITY of the MURDEROUS OPPRESSIVE BARBARITIES of us all including the various leaderships & families & other nationalities; people are being kidnapped & murdered continuously at the material time which is here to stay until the country is liberated, which is a MUST one way or another; why can’t the leaders allow an independent candidate to lead to contest this election with the unification of all opposition parties behind; some of whom can choose to serve or not, in the intrem-transitional government…

    I for one believe the opposition parties can only freely sell their ideas & ideologies for development prospects in a Democratic Gambia space, which is ONLY possible OUT OF the current AUTOCRATIC CRIMINALITIES; & win elections based on which party present the best of ideas at the time for improve developments to better Gambia for prosperity for humanity…

    Unlike Senegal & other places we occasionally reference in various arguments to reasons of difference, the Gambian situation is different; while those places would’ve merger, coalitions &/ integrations to form governments to rule together, our political parties are not merging to form governments together in marriages; WE ARE JUST TEMPORARILY UNITING FOR LIBERATION ONLY; for all parties to go their separate ways &/ form coalitions if any choses to…

    If for example the parties may think if entrusting an independent candidate for full 5 year term is “too long” to wait for, the candidate can be prepared to lead a transitional GOVERNMENT for 3 years; during which the constitution can be PURIFIED for referendum; the truth & reconciliation commissions of enquiries held & redresses, etc; & usher in the NECESSARY REMEDIAL STRUCTURES REQUIRED; to avoid manipulations this transitional leader CAN’T contest the election by end of the transition period; HOWEVER the person must be allowed to contest the next election to seek own mandates, as to the dictates of the constitution if s/he wishes to…

    We have a CHOICE to EITHER salvage the country peacefully together OR leave it to degenerate & fall in tatters apart, & CONSUME US ALL ALONG TOGETHER…

    We require a HOME where all can live in harmony & peaceful coexistence in the INNOCENT Gambia we all KNEW & MISSED & CHERISHED…???

    Long live the Gambia…

  2. Saul [Sulayman]: After carefully reading your article, this is my opinion; The most successful presidents or Entrepreneurs were under college graduates. Take an example of Geoge Washington and Abraham Lincoln and our former MP of Jarra West Alhagie Yaya Ceesay of Jarra Sankwia village.
    Personally, I don’t believe that a leadership required University degree, but it does require self-confidence, motivation, and visionaries, which our current so called a leader lacked. Most of us worries were not about who has been attended Unversity or college, but we simply want to replace Yaya Jammeh with someone else, who would be prepared for all kinds of criticisms again his/her bad policies without expecting him/her to come out and say, HEY! Because I am a woman or I am from the minority tribes that’s why she /he being treated differently. I would rather choose someone with high school level but tolerant and self-confidence than an Alcoholic with University degrees in all kind of sectors, to me, that’s just like an Ocean with full of death fishes.
    Than You.

  3. Great piece Saul , I do agree with some of your points especially regarding Ahmat and mama kandeh . Ahmat and kandeh are not qualify to be president of The Gambia by every measure and standard . mama kandeh is the worst candidate and never qualify presidential candidate. he is just a celebrity with questionable resume and backgrounds . This is why I indicated in my previous article that he cannot be trusted . Mr kandah’s fame is simply based on tribalism which is inherently rooted in our politics thanks to Yaya Jammeh who has introduced tribal politics in our country . Majority of mr kandeh’s supporters are in fact his tribe men both inside the country and in diaspora . They are also former disgruntled supporters of APRC regime . Among the chief political strategist is Retired Lt col Gano who has been showcasing mr kandeh’s credentials if you follow his postings in various media . If Gambians are not careful , we will have worst person who will replace the dictator . How can we allow people with questionable characters and background to be key players and propagandists in our national affairs . We have allowed criminals , liars , murderers , drug dealers and people with moral decadence to be forefront of our politics and government . This has lead our country to be nation of ” moral decadence ” despite our obsession with religions which we do not understand . In the process , telling lies becomes cultural acceptable phenomenon.
    Dr Touray has the best education and work experience among them but the problem is that she has been shy away from politics in the last 22 years during which she failed to speak up about horrific human rights volations.
    I think mr Barrow is qualify based on his education and also his business experience . He has a college diploma . If he didn’t have college diploma then I would say he is not qualify. Though our constitution said high school diploma as a requirement . Mr Barrow has been part of udp which has been fighting for dictatorial regime since 1996.
    Mr Halifa sallah is well qualify to be president but he lack honesty and integrity to lead the nation in my view . He is control freak and his self righteousness character will make him a good dictator. He is obsessed with leadership.
    Overall , Gambia has leadership crisis in part because we lack many decent and honest people with good education to lead the nation . The most educated ones in the country are infact key constituency which oppress the nation majority illiterates . They formulate policies and laws which oppress ordinary citizens .
    Our office of presidency is unfortunately a joke now since we have so many unqualified people seeking the job . Our problem is not only Yaya Jammeh but vast majority of people are part of the problem . These includes religious leaders , western educated intellectuals and majority professionals working in both private sector and public institutions .

  4. Brother Saul, you have spoken the HARD TRUTH, and nothing but the truth. I hope our political parties can come together to get rid of this evil satanic immortal system out . Please I’m appealing to our Politicians to unify for a better Gambia. Thanks Saul.

  5. Brother Saul it will be nice and truthful of you if you can tell us more about Dr Touray, and she has done for the country apart from FGM, that she is know about by some people, her work record on the development of Gambia since. you have say many things about Hamat, Kandeh and Barrow. What they do or have done but all you say about Dr Toruay’s qualification but not what she has done for the people of Gambia.all i know about her was the FGM which is part of our culture and even religion did not condemn it, and how sure are you of her qualification as we have know seen many Gambians in US and UK go home with false qualification and if you will not mine can you tell us which university she get her doctorate and what make you be sure she is the only one among all the others is the right one.

  6. Saul, you are spot on. You have pinpointed the very character traits of most socalled educated Gambians who would tread lies in pursuit of their personal interest.
    Max is ready to promote a College certificate holder as president just because he belongs to his party and castigate the character of Hon. Sallah for nothing but because he is not in the same camp with him. If Halifa were to be in his camp, only God knows how he Max would discribe him.
    Sidia Jatta once said at the PDOIS rally that some people can go to university but carry horns on their heads all their lives. The likes of Max are such educated university goers. For partisan interest Max said he has employed himself to assasinate the character of Halifa even though Halifa does not even know he exists.
    Look, those who know Halifa know that he is none of what Max said of him. The man is not only educated but intelligent and resourful. He engages in research before uttering anything or engages in anything which is not clear to him. He is a great listener who could not misunderstand other’s opinions. He has prepared his life for the hardest endeavor to emancipate a people from mental slavery for them to become the achitect of their own destiny.
    Saul is right, Halifa is the best candidate among the 6 opposition candidates but he is not insistent to lead. This is why he is saying that to locate the person who can serve our purpose we should consult the people in a primary.
    Listen to Max “Mr Halifa sallah is well qualified to be president but he lack honesty and integrity to lead the nation in my view . He is control freak and his self righteousness character will make him a good dictator.”
    Max who did not see wisdom in consulting the people in leadership selection and Halifa who does not want to lead without the people being consulted, who is self righteous and dictatorial? Max or Halifa?
    If Max said even though Halifa is the most qualified to become president i Max did not want him to do so because i do not belong to the same party with him and do not share the same interest with him. I would not only believe him but would respect his decision but for him to say otherwise is sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty to say the least.
    So brother Saul, do not allow a charlattan like Max whose entire commentary is meant to promote self interest at the expense of the national interest, to move you from your opinion.
    You are spot on.

    • Yorro, you are absolutely right. I won’t even try to say it any other way or attempt to add any thing other than, Max must not know what the meanings of dishonest, dictator, and integrity or lack thereof. None of what he referred to Halifa describes the man. It is alright to not like or support someone but the facts must not be tainted.

  7. You have said that Hamat is not qualified so is Cande, Halifa , Camara is not qualified because he is a businessman and you even went so far to say the difference between trader and businessman well brother you may be right, but all I am asking and am sure many Gambian will like you to tell us about Dr toruay what did she do, and what makes you think she is the right one. Also if you can tell us what you know about her where she has work, you say we know little about Hamat bah, but if you ask me Gambians know more about Hamat Bah than Dr touray and if there is election between the two of them I am sure that Hamat Bah will win her every part of Gambia, that is for sure.
    The you say Cande was in APRC until he was chick out and that makes him dishonest and disqualified, know let us see who are the followers of Dr touray if I am right the last meeting the opposition make Dr touray was represented by Ramsi diab, who was a former MP of APRC, if that is sure then I don’t think Dr touray is right for us too, as Ramsi was chick out like Cande was and then know joined Turay.
    Let us go back to Africa can you tell me which African countries has and educated president who has given freedom to his people education, I can tell you that most of them destroy their countries enrich them shelf and their children the good ones have bean killed. But I want to you go back again to Poland one of the poorest country in Europe was led by a trade union leader, the country became more prosper until today when the so call educated one came to power and the country is gone back word know. Also Brisiel Lula was a trad union leader he changes that county but look at what is happening there when the so call educated groups of American British graduate’s take power by force you can see what is happening there.
    The same so call educated groups are the cause of the problem Gambia is facing today during Jawaras time they all come home with certificates we don’t know how they get it and destroyed the country misled Jawara and this is the outcome of their greed, I wonder where was Dr touray then.
    If she really wants the freedom of Gambians she could have joined one of the parties not to wait until 4 months to election and people like you want other parties that has been working suffering for the past 20 years to joined her and she lead them. In which countries on this earth have you seen such, you know if we want to be honest to ourselves let us tell her the truth that what she is doing is not right. But I forget the so call educated Gambians are the worst people in our country’s history, greedy dishonest and selfish.

    • I haven’t missed bro Saul’s well articulate article but obvious that i missed a mess here @Arsenal fan is competent enough to maul into its right place with his right choice of words.

      It is amasing the way you are chatting and running duddi out your mouth @modou. You have failed to realise there are very educated Gambians citizens to note whose honesties and integrities need to be put to test by Gambians, if only you are listening keenly to what your fellow citizens are talking about. That is the way people do it all over the world. Honesty and self integrity are not a word to be writen on your face to show me @modou got them. Ask questions to see more light. Illiteracy in the 21st. century is like a vacuum spot of space in your heart and mine that can only help wreck the Gambia. Illiteracy in contrast to literacy bornes and breed bad thinking in both public space and our family lifes. You talk like a stumbling block who needs to be fork lifted out of progress’ way.

    • Kairo, I have responded to this kind of a Modou and whatever happened to that reaction……..Maybe my whole name didn’t got a space……

      I said this Modou talks like a stumbling block that needs to be forklifted away from progress’s way and I have tried to explain in that reaction why. He thinks education is a curse to African leadership….! I don’t take this kind of views lightly because I know people like @Modou needs help to understand that education and one’s self intergrity have nothing to do with each other. Illiteracy breed and borne bad thinking, ugly streets and households, dirty roads and jealousy towards any progress anywhere without,i.e., your name; @Modou, to be hailed for achieving that progress. I said in that reaction that, illiteracy is like a big spot of vacuum in your heart and mine and every other Gambian who is in this 21st century.

  8. Thank you my brother Jack, if I say anything that hurts you, and I will say sorry to you and Sulayman too, I was taught not to insult others first no matter what their age is, but asking question about others, I don’t think is an insult. If we really want changes in our country, we should have right to ask about every one who want to lead the country: there educational back ground, where they are educated, how they get it and so on. Also what they have done for the country before. My brother talk about Hamat Bah, Mama Kandeh, Halifa and Adama about every thing he knows about them but I ask him simple question if he can tell us what he knows about Dr toruay, I don’t think that need or warranted all that things he reply insulting, and so on then you Jack jump on, bean in Europe or America and having computer in your house and write what ever you like insulting other is not what will bring changes in Gambia, we have to accept each other as brothers and sister, when I was growing up in the 60s I never know that wolof ,jola, fula and mandinka was an issue in Gambia; all my friends were wolofs and jola, and we have respect for each other. That was the Gambia I was born and was the Gambia I wanted to die, writing big words and say what ever you like is not right let us all put this in our mine that you may be writing to some one online insulting him or her could be a close friend or have special relation with one of your family member so let us our head and mine also our words and if you think you know better then others used you knowledge in a better then causing other. i learn more from my children then all the teacher that thought me in school. once again chose a word that will not offend other tomorrow is something we all should think of as yesterday has pass we in today but who knows what tomorrow will bring a simple word can cause damage that will be difficult to repair. I wish you all the best and am sorry.