The TRRC Raises Important Moral Questions Regarding Governance

By Dr Alhagi Manta Drammeh (PGCerTHE, FHEA, FRSA, UK) Associate Professor, Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, UK

Mafuge Sonko the witness today the 1th March 2019 is a classical testament to those lapses that occurred during that period of evil dictatorship. Mahfouj has shown dignity, composure and humility. Without those qualities, he might have had serious psychological problem. Without being formally educated, he remembered in detail the events that led to some of the atrocious acts he witnessed-the brutal summary executions of officers and unbefitting burials. Thanks to God! He is still alive. May Allah give him long life, happiness and prosperity. Madam Duputy Chairperson made interesting compliments about Sonko in terms of his composure, humanity and dignity. Above all, he was able to present his testimony with drama and a high sense of humour. He made us both cry and laugh. He said he has forgiven all implicated in his torture, incarceration and employment for many years. It must have taken him a considerable amount of courage and inner spiritual strength. His words are reconciliatory and will go well so far as national reconciliation is concerned. Hope in Allah kept Sonko going. That spiritual ethical dimension can never be neglected in our society. Morality is in fact the bedrock of any society. When we examine human historical evolution, we shall find that morality or its lack has been largely responsible for the rise and fall of nations and civilizations, there are many moral lessons to learn from the testimonies of the witnesses before the TRRC Commission. Some of these lessons are:

  1. The centrality of morality to development of any nation and community. This will teach us civility, values, traditions and norms of the society

  2. The significance of national dialogue, conversation and communication to promote social cohesion

  3. Justice must be overriding and thus Ibn al-Qayyim (a great Muslim scholar) equated it with shari’ah

  4. The New Gambia needs honest and sincere people to move the country forward

  5. The undeniable fact that tribalism will kill the Gambia. Therefore, inculcation of patriotic values in our children

  6. Exploration of how our curricular should be revisited that they reflect the national character of the country, its needs, values and aspirations. The colonial curricular are long over due

The Coalition has succeeded in changing the regime of dictatorship and terror. This was a great achievement by the different political parties and independent. In fact, it was the greatest political achievement since Independence in 1965. It was a historical moment. Indeed, it was a miracle that Gambians hardly believed. The Most brutal dictator was removed without any bloodshed. However, this monumental accomplishment is yet to make headways in bringing about an institutional or system change. Understandably, change of a system does not happen overnight; it does take a long time. We are hopeful that the Government is taking necessary steps and measures to make that transition. It requires boldness, courage and above all wisdom. As we talk about transitional justice, I think the concluding remarks by the Deputy Chairperson today of the TRRC are encouraging in terms of reparations and confronting impunity. Talking of system change in my view includes primarily the rebuilding of the human that has been seriously damaged. Surely, it includes building strong institutions and not necessarily strong leaders! Witness after Witness, we have become more aware of institutional lapses during the period of terror in the Gambia that need to be fixed as soon as possible. It is not about lip service. It is about ideas and capabilities that will take our dear country forward. We hope that Mafuge and others will be taken care of by the State. Their rights were deprived of them, but their humanity remained in tact with them.


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