The End of an era and the Dawn of a new era

Associate Professor of Islamic Theology and Philosophy, The Muslim College London and Head of Interfaith, London Central Mosque and London Islamic Cultural Centre
Associate Professor of Islamic Theology and Philosophy, The Muslim College London and Head of Interfaith, London Central Mosque and London Islamic Cultural Centre

By: Dr Alhagi Manta Drammeh

We are reminded by the Qur’an as in the following verses: “Say, O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honour whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent” (Al Imran 3:26). The sura in its opening verse says: “Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence” (Al-Imran 3:2). The verses and similar ones teach that all power lies in the hand of the Almighty God and that He is the Sustainer, the One Who gives and takes. We as His servants are custodians. The most telling in the above Qur’anic message is the fact that leadership is a responsibility and trust that rulers will be held accountable for how they have governed their people.

The Gambia has made history in its political transformation and desire for democratisation and good governance. It started with a convention in which almost all the Gambian opposition parties elected a flag bearer for the 1st December presentation election. The convention occurred in a very civilised and mature manner in that the aspirants outlined their ideas regarding transitioning Gambia for a three-year period and then call for a general election where all parties can compete freely and fairly. The elected coalition Leader is Mr Adam Barrow. However, the coalition team includes political luminaries, activists and intellectuals of the Gambian society. The way the convention took place was highly commended, professional, dignified and matched international standards. Of course, this history making  in the Gambia all started when Solo Sandeng was reported to have died under torture following his detention by the notorious NIA in April 2016. His death under state custody led to international condemnation and solidarity from the Gambia opposition parties with UDP. Following the death of Solo, The UDP leader Lawyer Darboe gave a moving speech asking his Party Executive to march peacefully and demand the release of Solo alive or dead. Instead of allowing the peaceful protest to take its course, it was crushed and the UDP Leader and his Executive were detained. The death of Solo and the detention of Lawyer Darboe and others galvanised a new political environment in the Gambia ending the fear factor Gambians have been subject to for many years. This new political climate probably contributed to the idea of political fraternisation and solidarity between the opposition parties. The political giants like OJ, Hamat Bah, Gomez,  Madam Fatoumata Jallow-Tanmbajang,  Seedia Jatta, Dr Bojang, Dr Touray and  Mai Fatty, among others, played a crucial role in the election of Adam Barrow. The 1st December was indeed a historic moment in the political history of the Gambia and I believe historians to come will give it a kind assessment. The whole Gambia was glued to internet radios, social media and internet and satellite televisions to make sense of what was transpiring in the Gambia. Manny were positive that change was inevitable in the Gambia while others were sceptical. On Friday 2nd December, the exit polls indicated that Borrow was winning as later confirmed and certified by Alieu Momarr Njie Chairman of IEC. Despite the criticisms  levelled against him, Mr Njie stood with the people. I believe his name will go well in the history books of the Gambia. The victory is one step and many steps need to be taken in consolidating democratic culture and  ethos. I am impressed with the team around Barrow to move the country forward from developing and reviewing our educational system at all levels to making the army, the police and the security forces professional to developing our economic, social and political infrastructure. There is an urgent need to remap our foreign policy by normalising our relations with Senegal, the neighbouring countries, the sub-region our traditional allies and the entire lovers of peace, the rule of law and good governance. I here salute the people in the struggle at home and in the diaspora for their great efforts and sacrifices. I particularly salute the online radio presenters for enlightening the Gambians and the entire world about the plight of the Gambia. This stage is both crucial and delicate. It requires prudence, wisdom and great healing of a broken society.

In the end, I reiterate the Qur’anic verses above that real power belongs to Allah. If one is entrusted with it, they should exercise utmost care not to abuse it. Rather, they should make all efforts to entrench values of justice, equity and respect for human rights and human dignity. Finally, I am reminded by the saying of a fourteenth century Muslim scholar that wherever you have justice, you have the sharia.

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