Gambian activists today did what would have been unthinkable during the repressive rule of Fang Bili Mansa (self construct ruler) Yahya Jammeh who swore to remain in power for a billion years only to dodge or eloped into self-imposed exile. Turning the office of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) Mayor Yankuba Colley’s office into a dump site was borne out of frustration. Activists, who got pissed off with the KMC’s deliberate failure to collect waste materials in markets where they collect dues on a daily basis, decided to rally youths on a general clean up exercise. Their only motivation is to guarantee the health of a country reeling with health care challenges, resulting to many sick people being evaluated to Senegal for treatment.
A spiral of cholera outbreak resulting from poor sanitation in markets is capable of bringing the Gambia on its knees. It was for this reason that patriotic Gambian women led the market clean up exercise on Saturday. Gambians have responded to the women’s call as evidenced by their record turnout and provision of resources. But the Council that failed to carry out its responsibility was not only absent in the general cleaning but its leader Yankuba Colley had been purportedly rallying residents close to dump sites in Bakoteh and Manjai Kinda against refuse dumping. This had worked well, with residents invading dump site, resulting to a confrontation. Even the intervention of senior government officials and police could not convince anti-dumpsters blink. At this stage frustrated activists ran out of options until the idea of dumping the waste products in front of Mayor Colley’s office was generally conceived and agreed. Activists want Colley and his Council to feel the stench taxpaying market stall owners, hawkers and others are exposed.
This action reminds us about a similar story found in a book entitled Paradise of the Masses, in which a radical university lecturer advised members of the Gerinia Youth Movement to do anything to get the attention of a non-functioning government that failed to collect waste products in markets. Committees were formed across the country, a national clean up day organised and the waste materials dumped at the home of health minister. GYM members, led by a revolutionary university student Diti Oba, went into hiding while the movement’s unit for the Fabrication and Propagation of Rumour went into action peddling news that Oba and others were executed. For several weeks, the fictional country became ungovernable. GYM collaborated with an opposition newspaper to publish embarrassing classified government documents. In one instance, the Minister of Finance had his briefcase stolen during a bitter encounter with his illegitimate daughter member of GYM who had her own beef with her father for supporting a law that denied illegitimate children the right of inheritance. The Minister’s budget speech which was supposed to be read in Parliament was serialised by the newspaper in advance. In the end, the government relied on a woman to seduce Diti Oba which ultimately let the country off the hook.
Mayor Colley could have called an emergency meeting to avert this shameful act if his office had fulfilled its responsibility. Why would he waited until his office was infiltrated and acted? What he fails to comprehend is that we live in a New Gambia where police cannot exercise force on taxpayers for dumping waste in a public office. Mayor Colley has to choose one of the two options: serve the public and live in peace or continue sabotage and face embarrassment. If denying people public service is a winner time will tell.