Allow me to take this opportunity to extend first my appreciation, gratitude and admiration to the many unsung heroes to the cause of Gambia’s advancement beyond the framework of the current regime there, which instituted itself almost 20 years ago, and has since been masquerading under different disguises and touting so-called developments.
Many Gambians in the diaspora are doing great works that we don’t know about, and they neither seek attention, glory or financial rewards.
And of all our brothers and sisters on the ground in the Gambia who are opposed to the current regime are more courageous, braver and stronger than we can even imagine. So, we have nothing to tell them, but keep supporting and encouraging them. We must distinguish our brothers and sisters back home from the regime of Yaya Jammeh. True, the regime of Yaya Jammeh involves our brothers and sisters, and dislodging Yaya Jammeh we will, by default, dislodge many of our brothers and sisters as well. But such is the reality we have to face, admit and accept, in order to move forward and away from the current barbaric regime.
Having made the above preamble, and before I proceed any further, allow me first to make this disclaimer:
First and foremost, this piece is particularly addressed to our “Gambian Mandelas” in the Diaspora, not our folks on the ground, or other Gambians in the diaspora. It is addressed to just the “Gambian Mandelas” in the Diaspora.
Our folks on the ground who are opposed to the dictatorial regime there are braver than us, for at least, they are trying to survive under oppressed system that we can only imagine. And other Gambians in the diaspora are braver than others, as they are not seeking attention, rewards or favors, for they are trying to live with worry, concern and empathy for the Gambia, and their loved ones there.
Prudence, Caution and Planning should and must be exercised about all this chatter of a regime change by force in The Gambia.
Many “Gambian Mandelas” in the diaspora are teetering between forceful or peaceful change, and professing chameleon identities as to whether or not they are a “political wing” or an “armed crusade”, or a blend of both, or neither one. Sounds confusing? No, it is not. The confusion is your fault. They are experts, and as experts they explain things to us so much that they make us believe that the confusion is our fault.
And other “Jammeh Enablers” in the diaspora are just popping up as well all over the place, preaching all kinds of gospel on unity and the way forward for Gambia. And yet some among these two sets of groups do not want to take the slightest criticism leveled against them for their prior complicity, whether by choice, circumstance or JK’s whip. Their first step is to take responsibility for their prior part, express remorse and or guilt, and then, only then, the way forward can begin to be paved.
I try to understand the positions, and or counter-positions of critics who were once ardent supporters, praise singers and or benefactors of Jallow Kanilai’s regime. Their defense, or counter position is that, for whatever reasons, when they were or are in the Gambia, they were or are limited or constrained as to where, when, how or what they can or cannot say, and or do.
Without coming hard on them, and without excusing their justification as well, I would just like to respectfully submit that they can, to paraphrase the words of a real activist, either “be part of the problem, or part of the solution”. They cannot expect to be part of the problem, while at the same time, profess to be part of the solution.
They can either be part of the problem and remain mute on the solution, or be part of the solution and remain loud on the problem
What even amazes me most, listening to some of them over the past few months on the radio and reading online papers and comments, is how conveniently some of them fail to take responsibility for their prior complicity on the havoc being wrecked in the Gambia by Jallow Kanilai, whether or not they were forced into it by choice, love of country or force, or by circumstance. And even more amazing is that when critics lash at some of them for their prior complicity, instead of taking responsibility, express remorse and or guilt, they quickly tabulate all kinds of justifications, and or pretenses.
True, I respect their justifications and pretenses, but I do not admire them, and I have reservations, and that I might not readily avail myself to such justifications and or pretenses, without further scrutiny.
They cannot express allegiance and solidarity to the diaspora movement, while at the same time pay homage to JK and his regime, and also keep teetering and swaying back and forth between the cause of the diaspora and JK’s regime, depending on whatever prospect the wind blows them
True, in the interest of unity and moving forward, it will be a daunting and futile task to “cherry pick Jammeh enablers” or “Gambian Mandelas” in the diaspora. However, I would submit that the writing is on the wall for a change of regime in the Gambia; as to timing, circumstance and method, I do not know.
Nonetheless, my only reservation is about those “Jammeh enablers” or “Gambian Mandelas in the diaspora who are now masquerading as “freedom fighters”. What are their agendas, objectives, plans and missions?
True, we all need to join hands now in unity and move Gambia forward, but “Jammeh enablers” or “Gambian Mandelas” in the diaspora need to recognize first their role, accept their prior complicity,
express remorse and or guilt, and make clear and unequivocal their allegiance, solidarity and loyalty, and then, only then, we can begin to move forward.
If I may speak for many of us, we do not seek, demand and or ask for apology from “Jammeh enablers” in the diaspora. On the contrary, we however ask, demand and want unwavering allegiance, loyalty and solidarity. I submit that there are very few, I mean, very, very few, people who can help lead us down towards this path of unity and way forward.
I noticed, of late, there are so many “experts” in all things Gambian I am beginning to wonder how we separate the “genuine” ones from the ones with “crowded designs”.
I have sensed and detected that there are some in this diaspora movement who would castigate others so bad that would make serial murderers like JK and Ted Bundy look like saints.
Genuine leaders are the ones Gambia truly needs, not some I have seen and heard of and about of late. Yes, they may have their qualifications in their own rights to be in the forefront, but they need to acknowledge and make room for others who genuinely have the plight of Gambia at heart.
“Gambian Mandelas” in the diaspora go around touting impressive qualifications, and experience, which is all good and well, and doing so to help the plight of the Gambia is good, but doing so for personal aggrandizations and self-centered interests is little bit a disservice to the Gambia and its people.
We just hope and pray the process of regime change in the Gambia turns out peaceful, smooth and without fear or favor.
And finally, create a new government in absentia in The Gambia outside The Gambia, and focus equally just little more energy in developing the country. Majority of Gambians are suffering and living in abject poverty, and other vices, while a select few, both within and outside the barbaric regime, live lavishly.
And once this “legitimate government” in the Gambia but outside is created or formed, and has international and national support and recognition, then this body will decide the fate or path of Gambia, and us all, the troops, will take orders from this “legitimate body of government”. And Pray to God that this body does not give orders for forceful regime change, but if it does, God Help Us All. The creation of this absentia government of the Gambia outside the Gambia is a process; it could take several months
And all these factions all over the place competing for attention are, in some respect, bringing attention to the plight of Gambians, but they are, in other regards, doing a disservice to The Gambia. We must unite in our struggle in the diaspora, and then we can fight in all the ways we can, both peaceful and force, if and when force is called for and warranted. Why can’t all these factions in the diaspora come together, under one umbrella? Egos and self-interest must be subject to the interests of the Gambia.
We owe the Gambia to our future generations. The Gambia was not given to us by our ancestors. No, it was not. It is borrowed to us by our future generations.
In the meantime, little more energy should equally be focused on developing The Gambia. There is too much poverty, sickness, and all ravaging that country as we speak. The gap between the rich and poor in the Gambia is too wide, and it is pretty gruesome, horrible and severe.
FINALLY: Why, WHY, WHY, can’t all these factions, or entities in the diaspora set aside egos, ambitions and self-centered interests and come together to fight that Monster in any and all ways and means for the good of the country?
Are the egos, ambitions and self-aggrandizations of Gambian Mandelas in the diaspora more important than the interests of the Gambia?
And don’t tell me it is good and healthy that we have all these entities and factions in the diaspora. No, it is not healthy, nor good or conducive for conducting business.
We can have all these factions and entities back home in the name of democracy, but not here, in the diaspora, at a time when we have a shared and common enemy.
The Gambia is bigger than any one group and or entity.
BY Abdul Savage. Retired, US Army
Member, Military Order of the Purple Heart
Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars
MR ABDUL SAVAGE IS A RETIRED UNITED STATES ARMY. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE HIS OWN AND MAY NOT REFLECT THOSE OF NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS AND ITS PARENT COMPANY THE GLOBAL INTERNATIONAL AND ITS AFFLIATES.