I am delighted to see President Adama Barrow highlighted the hypocrisy and lack of concern of many Gambian intellectuals and so called human rights defenders who have been silenced during 22 years of military dictatorship. In his speech in Turkey, President Barrow not only talked about human rights defenders’ lack of concern about poor human rights violations in the Gambia at the time but he also highlighted the selfless sacrifices of people like Solo Krumang who most Gambian intellectuals considered as “illiterate or uneducated.” The name of Solo Krumang (unschooled blacksmith) in particular was mentioned to showcase the patriotism of few citizens and UDP political party that salvage the country from political oppression and dictatorship while people who lived next to the seat of power or stone throw from Banjul were missing in actions. That was a reminder that all those who are making noises today are not truly concerned about justice and human rights. All they care about is their selfish interest.
During the struggle, we have chastised and called on the Gambian intellectuals to join the struggle but majority were busy making money or looting from the country’s meager resources. The problem of Gambian intellectuals is that majority do not have honest and moral conscience to fight for ordinary people. They careless about the constitution and welfare of the citizenry when the country needed them most. These folks continue to look for their political and economic interests.
The Gambian intellectual community, especially those in the higher institutions of learning – Gambia College and the University of the Gambia – were silent about the atrocities committed in the country at the time. However, some of the same people can now foolishly lecture us about the constitution and human rights in this new Gambia. Where were they when we needed them most? In fact, the Gambia was a recruiting ground for Jammeh regime’s advocacy and sustenance. I thought President Barrow did a remarkable job to point out the hypocrisy and lack of genuine desire for some Gambians to wholeheartedly work and advocate for the country when the country was in deep troubles. I want to encourage President Barrow to continue to highlight the sacrifices being made by these heroes and heroines. I also encourage him to invite these unsung heroes and heroines or their family members in his next speech to the nation so that the idea of ”national services or selfless sacrifices” can be part of our national identity and culture.
It is through such public advocacy and motivation of citizens that majority of the citizens will value the idea of working for their nation for the benefit of all. In the United States, we have seen time after time that Presidents – Democrat or Republican -invite remarkable people to attend the state of union speech and these heroes are recognized and appreciated due to their positive contributions to developments of the country . The invitation of people who committed selfless sacrifices will also serve as an inspiration and motivation for citizens to do more or similar things in the future in various communities across the country.
The diaspora opposition activists should also understand that true and genuine freedom fighters are only interested in positive national developments but not to look for positions as the main reason of involvement in the liberation struggle. The Gambians in western countries have experienced democracy and freedom of expression because someone sacrificed on our behalf before we even thought about coming to these countries. So our involvement to remove dictatorship was a duty and pride for our country and her citizens.
President Barrow’s speech also reminded me of some of the so-called ”strugglers” whose main desire was job seeking. It is the job seekers who now turned into Diaspora opposition group that continues to propagate negative political rhetoric on online and instigate political negativity across our diverse population.
Intellectualism is all about having a moral conscience to make positive differences in the lives of ordinary citizens. This is why in advanced countries, intellectuals have become inventors and innovators of ideas which are geared towards economic and political development of their countries. We do not need intellectual prostitutes whose main objective is to get personal enrichment, political advancement and self gratification at the expense of our indigenous citizens. I believe that people like Solo Krumang , Lang Marong and many of our heroes who sacrificed to salvage our country care more about our people than the so-called intellectuals with paper qualifications yet they lack moral values or conscience to help ordinary citizens.
President Barrow’s speech is once again a clear indication that he recognizes the sacrificial role played by the UDP political party and its selfless heroes who made it possible for the Gambia to be liberated. The intellectual community should use the speech as a learning material to change from their idea of intellectualism based on looting meager resources and propagation of negative political rhetoric to more positive political activism and genuine desire to advocate and formulate innovative ideas or policies for the betterment of the masses.