Leadership can sometimes be a very complex discipline because to lead effectively you have to embrace yourself for conflicts and be candid enough even if it means creating new enemies. As a leader, you don´t expect to be liked or loved by everyone. What is important is to have integrity and a clear vision of where you want to take your followers. This applies to both political and corporate leadership. When a leader speaks, it echoes far and wide because many people can identify themselves with the speech – positively and negatively.
The rhetoric used by President Barrow during his recent visit to Turkey cannot be clearer and fortunately for the President his message was delivered to the correct address and received by the intended people. There is a proverb in the Mandinka parlance which fits in this description. “Words are like a released calf that runs straight to its mother.” Who are these recipients of President Barrow’s message? They are the people who respond to it without hesitation. Yes, they are the same people who were advocating civil disobedience against this new government. They were also behind the so-called “Occupy Westfield” and even turned their tongues of destruction to President Barrow when he was on a state visit to China. The same people are mad again, raving and ranting on the social media. They are mad at President Barrow for being blunt that he (the President) too has right to reply in a free Gambia. He simply told them, “Your crap, cheap talk hasn’t moved me an inch and it is time for Gambians to know where truth lies.” President Barrow didn´t name names in his speech yet we saw those who were on the offensive. They were nowhere to be seen when the going was tough despite being called to national duty. They declined and voted with their feet. For far too long, this President has been calling Gambia’s so-called intellectuals and academics to put their differences aside and come together to build this nation of ours. For far too long, his call has fallen on deaf ears. Instead the President got unjust, unfair and personal attacks. Yes, the era of “Na Monkey Works, Na Baboon chops is over” forever. The sooner these so-called intellectuals and academics grasp this new reality the better for them to come to terms with new Gambia. The bad old days of doing things has got us nowhere and the people of the Gambia will never turn the clock back for the selfish interest of few greedy and self-perpetuating individuals. It is time for hard work and less talk.
This country is mine and this country is yours and President Barrow will never ever resemble Yahya Jammeh or adapt Jammeh’s behavior. That argument holds no water and will never sell. It is intended to deceive the Gambian people to cheap political points. President Barrow knows well and must be aware of the repercussions if he should, in anyway, resemble dictator Yahya Jammeh either in deeds or in governance. So that assumption is nothing but silly.
It will be naïve to remind President Barrow of the heroes and heroines of the struggle to get rid of Yahya Jammeh when Barrow himself was in the forefront of that struggle. The struggle to dislodge Yahya Jammeh from power through democratic means was a very long, bloody and painful process. It was done in many various ways and President Barrow and the Gambian masses are well aware of that fact. All categories of the Gambian society contributed and took part in one way or the other to send Jammeh packing. Was everybody on board during that painful struggle? NO! Does that exclude anyone from the new Gambia? The answer is emphatically NO. Now, when that episode in our history is at least behind us you have people having trouble accepting the New Gambia. Their reasons being because in their minds they and they alone have the exclusive solutions for the Gambian people.
President Barrow was not the least happy to be sworn in at a foreign country and we all know the reason for that. He surely wasn´t happy to leave the Gambia during the impasse. That was evident. Using that terrible occasion as political point against President Barrow is sheer dishonesty, heartbreaking and shameful. When President Barrow was airlifted from the country, we were all relieved and happy because we knew what could have happen had he stayed and we would be helpless.
The fact is, no matter how you write the history of the Gambian struggle to get rid of Yahya Jammeh and his brutal regime, the UDP as a political entity cannot be neglected in that struggle. The UDP’s role in fighting Yahya Jammeh is not trivial in anyway as some enemies of the party would like to portray it.
Like it or not, the UDP is inextricable from the destiny of the Gambian people because it had played a pivotal role to free us from the Yoke of Yahya Jammeh’s callous regime.
Finally, what President Barrow said in Turkey was not said in the context of a press conference or government gathering, instead he was talking to his own political sympathizers. This could be done by any political leader hence I see no reason why all the brouhaha are from…. well you know who.
Let us walk the talk. That is the only way we can heal our economic, political and social wounds inflicted on us by Dictator. Now is not the time for us to be dragged into useless mudslinging.
Thank you all and God Bless you and The Gambia.