Africa’s Smallest State Getting Ready for Crucial Polls


                        A Political Report by a Ex-Refugee Part Two

Despite weeks of efforts, inquiries and consultations, it was almost impossible to get GDC party leader, Mr. Mamma Kandeh on the phone, much less for an interview. The young leader of the newest political party appears to me to be more resident in Dakar than in Banjul. One of my interpreters insinuated that Mr. Kandeh had to fulfil the obligatory rotational stay with a third wife in Dakar but others suspect it was more because of the Macky Sall connection rather than marital obligations.

An informant in Dakar who however looks quite unreliable to me, said that the young Gambian politician, Mr. Kandeh, fell into personal friendship with Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, while he, Kandeh, was an AU parliamentarian the then Ghanaian opposition politician was interested in the case of the extra-judicial murder of about 49 Ghanaian migrants by the Gambian tyrant. And that the Ghanaian leader had later introduced Kandeh to Senegalese president Macky Sall as someone worth supporting as replacement to the incumbent Gambian leader who both has scores to settle with and who both consider a disgrace to the West African sub-region.

Unfortunately, I missed the chance of asking Mr. Kandeh  himself  before leaving Dakar after my weeks stay in the area because I was never able to meet and interview him.

Anyway two days before my departure someone slipped into my hands a copy of what was supposed to be the GDC manifesto, a thin sheaf of A-4 papers with stack dark imprints that showed it had probably just been printed from some bubble jet printer. The paper was jumbled up in its layout, inconsequent in its sequence and even in its page numeration, not to speak of its logical sequence. The ideas were disjointed, without any clue of what it was embarked upon and nearly illiterate in its presentation.

The problem was not only a matter of form but much more of content. The GDC so called manifesto wrote: ¨ The GDC Government shall strive to boost the national economy through increasing the harnessing of the economic resources within the nation as well as abroad. In this regard, the economy shall be greater diversified to include industrialization, trade expansion as GDC (may be meaning GDP) well as increasing the capacities of the national workforce among others.¨

After failing to make sense of this above paragraph, I decided to try another, running thus: ¨ In the bid to maximize the development of the economy sector, as the human resource base of the nation through the provision of more education, training and the creation of more employment opportunities, broadening national taxation rather than increasing and diversifying the productive and productivity sector such as agriculture, trade, industry among others, maximizing  the business and enterprise sectors.¨

My frustration with the so called manifesto’s authorship, formulation and the general confusion of what seemed only to increase as I read on. I began to doubt that the sheaf of papers given to me was an authentic document of the Gambia Democratic Congress. A look at another paragraph, showed: ¨GDC Government shall endeavor to advance the national economic status through diversification of the economic resource base, providing the enabling opportunities for all stakeholders in the economic development among others for all enterprise sectors.¨

¨GDC Government shall endeavor to advance the national economic status through diversification of the economic resource base, providing the enabling opportunities for all stakeholders in the economic development among others for the common good.¨

The manifesto was also filled with amateurish, or shall I say illiterate, errors that I really started to wonder if Mr. Kandeh had indeed been vetted by the two West African heads of state as my informant had claimed. Over two decades of being under the yoke of a crude, near-illiterate autocracy of a mad tyrant can really suffocate any nation but I never realized it could be this much. The Gambia is small yes, but in Nairobi, Juba and Arusha  I got to know so many smart Gambians, in general, handling so many sophisticated international appointments, I am sure Gambians can do better. I hope they can surmount all odds, unite and do better for themselves and for the rest of us Africans all over the continent.

In fact Gambians need little prodding from us outside. He who feels it knows it. The country produces less totals of goods and services than it did fifteen years ago, though it has more than a three quarter more people to feed, house, school and hospitalize.

Talking to a Gambian friend and colleague  who said to me ‘All five cornerstones of the country’s national economy are deeply in shambles. Agriculture, that is to say peanut production for export and millet cultivation for subsistence have  both in ruins for almost seventeen years.  Farmers have now forgotten what the season of groundnut trading used to be like. A mad president who regularly threatens live on official television to cut the throats of visiting homosexuals has succeeded in cutting tourist arrivals by more than half and foreign aid by about three quarters. To make matters worse, by 2005, the new authorities had ran down the re-export trade into a standstill.  So many foreign investors have been scared away since July 1994 that unemployment is more than 75% for over a decade now and the issue is not being addressed. There has not been even a single state initiated employment program for over twenty years to address growing unemployment among the young or anybody.’He continue to say that..

‘There is no group of Gambians, much less class of Gambians, who have won anything from the coming into power of the Jammeh dictatorship. All Gambians consider themselves losers of the Second Republic under the Jammeh autocracy and for the more enlightened and concerned citizens what threatens to come in the near future is even more apocalyptic than what has been seen or is now been seen.  Jammeh and his gang of coup-makers came into power in July 1994, three months after the April 1994 massacres of an estimated one million Hutu-speaking Tutsis and moderate Hutu-speaking Hutus in a civil war in Rwanda. A year following the coup in Banjul, in 1995, Jammeh and his AFPRC junta, sent film-showing teams to show video shows of the macabre Rwandan inter-ethnic massacres.

Now in 2016, it is clear to all that the purpose of sponsoring those video shows by the junta was nothing other than terrorizing the populace, cowing it into accepting whatever atrocities Jammeh’s AFPRC junta may care to come out with those resisting or opposing them.Now in 2016, Gambians are well aware of what the fratricidal intentions of the autocracy is and the need to steer clear out of it .’ he concluded.


I first came to The Gambia as a refugee from with my parents in 1986. I was just ten when I came to that country, went to primary and high school in that country until a US Govt. resettlement program brought me to the U.S. Now that I am in the U.S. I know, feel and dream that there was a better place, a paradise on earth that was not here in America. It was not even my birth place in Kono, but in  Bundung, Serrekunda, in The Gambia, where you feel, however hard, you were in a community of humans, among people who all wish you, and all others, well. I all of a sudden felt, when I visited Freetown during the last Easter that I realized I was now more Gambian than Sierra Leonean because of the quality of human warmth and companionship i had experienced in the little, West African country. It is one that I have failed to find in both my native Sierra Leone when I visited in 2013 and 2014 and in the world’s greatest country, the United States of America.  Gambians  do not look like a people who i had once discovered, in the 1990s, the best way humans can live together, they must just have stumbled into it and now, with twenty-two years of the Jammeh-autocracy, they look unable to reinvent it. Gambians politicians don’t seems be aware of the divine gift they had earlier stumbled into and what they have lost to over twenty-two years of dictatorship even now as they are going into the 2016 presidential elections.

( To Be Continued)



  1. An old wine in a new bottle can never make the wine new or fresh. Sadly most Gambians are either blinded by parochial interests or are suffering from the our common disease – hypocrisy – to see the GDC and its leadership for what they are.

  2. You right @Ex refugee! I agree with you that the Gambia has been and still is on the retrogression in every aspect of their lifes from 22 july1994.