By Yaya Dampha (Sweden)
I see it as a civic duty to respond to the unpleasant and ungentlemanly remarks by a veteran 72-year-old politician in the person of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the opposition United Democratic Party. Mr. Darboe’s statement that “President Barrow did not inherit anything from his father” symbolises bad taste, which depicts the character of a man full of anger, rage and hot temper. This is the man who had throughout preached against politics of mudslinging, character assassination or insult during the Jammeh dictatorship. I used to admire Darboe’s cool and collected approach to dealing with looming political conflicts. That is why his new line of politics has worried me, to call spade a spade and not a rake.
It is worthy to note that political parties that are devoid of ideological grounds or basis will have nothing to offer to the masses. Members of such political parties resort to talking about their opponents’ personal and private lives. Even the parents of their opponents are not allowed to live in peace. Instead of championing issue-based politics or politics of development, these parties will campaign along tribal lines, with its members touting sentiments like ‘ali Kari fasa’, ‘ali Kari la julo jo’ (delo len jugal) or ‘Kari batata bankola kula‘.
Instead of selling his party’s programmes and policies or what he intends to do for them if he is given the responsibility to manage our meagre tax revenue, the doyen Lawyer politician chose to blow his own trumpet. Maverick politicians are like gifted salespeople who must master the art of sales pitching. Wise politicians allow others to tell their story, especially with regard to their sacrifices. Statements like “I suffered and sacrificed a lot during the Jammeh era” is simply laughable. Who hasn’t suffered? Even unborn innocent babies and their mothers are not spared by a regime whose leader sacrificed babies for rituals. Every Gambian tasted their own bitter pills or played their own part and sacrificed without expecting any personal rewards or benefits. All they care about was to free their once Sweet Country from a Mad Dog. Any attempt to defeat Mr. Jammeh was tantamount to solemn national duty.
Truth be told loudly and clearly, President Adama Barrow’s father (Mamudou Barrow) was not a politician. Mamudou’s name only came to the public limelight when his son defeated Yahya Jammeh. He was not under any obligation to give his inheritance to Adama Barrow to develop The Gambia. Where has that happened in the world? Mr. Darboe’s remarks corroborate the fact that he endorses the insults and arrogance being peddled by the UDP supporters. How can insult be a crime in a village where elders okay the use of vulgar language? I have now believed that use of vulgar language is an accepted standard of normalcy within the UDP.
If you see a child insulting and abusing others in the streets one should know that child learns that behaviour from home.
After more than half a century of self-rule, one might believe that politics of insult, violence, castigation and tribalism should have no place in our modern day Gambian politics. A 72-year-old man should have been a good Role Model for the younger generations and not the other way around.
It is true that Lawyer Darboe used to get under the skin of former President Jammeh, although in a more responsible manner many a time. But what Darboe needs to understand is that President Barrow is not Yahya Jammeh who can easily be provoked to arrest or suppress his political adversaries. Such tactics are relics of the bygone era.
Democracy requires politics of issues and not of personal attacks. It elevates arguments and instils principle of mutual respect and tolerance. It is not the state or the governing party alone that should uphold principles and dictates of democracy. The opposition parties vying for power should also respect the same very principles of democracy.
Lawyer Darboe has failed the principle of fair play, mutual respect and upholding sacrosanct traditional values of limiting one’s remarks to one’s opponent and not to their parents or relatives. It would have been an explosive affair if such unpleasant remarks were uttered by President Barrow. Our lousy media would have drummed it up and labelled it a threat, yet a clear provocation and punch below the belt is instigated by a veteran politician and the outrage is minimal, which in itself is alarming.
Distasteful political remarks or innuendos are not what the world expects of Gambians to practice in a post-dictatorship era. We cannot build a Better Gambia in the absence of restraiing our utterances and allow our democracy to flourish. In essence, let us police ourselves and live in Peace rather than in pieces.