Monday, November 17, 2014

Testing the limits of Senegalese 'Teranga'

The case involving Gambian businessman Amadou Samba at the Radisson Bleu Hotel is still pending, according to recent reports.

The full details of the case are yet to be revealed in a court of law before another incident in the Senegalese border town of Karang with a potential of further straining an already strained relations between Gambian exile/dissident community and its Senegalese host government.

Recent incidents involving Gambian dissident groups in Senegal should be a cause for concern for those who value the maintenance of the diplomatic balance between two sister countries.

These two incidences, coupled with uninformed utterances of some highly visible members of the Gambia exile community in Dakar against the Macky Sall's government in general and Senegal's Interior Ministry personnel dealing with refugee matters in particular, underscore the need for a somber reflection on the tactics employed by members of the Struggle with a view to assessing the potential negative impact on the attitude of the Senegalese government on the one hand, and that of the Senegalese people on the other - two separate and distinct entities and both reacting differently to public opinion with the former reacting more expeditiously than the latter

These acts of defiance and protestations against the regime of Yaya Jammeh while within the confines of Senegalese law and of absolute necessity, they also tend to open themselves to the accusation of grandstanding, however unfair it might seem.  These skirmishes are distractions that serve to focus attention away from the real, and what should be the only target : Yaya Jammeh.

The distribution of T-shirts in plain sight of the Gambian border town of Amdalaye unnecessarily exposes the vulnerabilities of the Gambian protesters to a very nervous Gambian security apparatus of the dictatorship that has been on permanent full alert since the incidents.  Therefore, in the future, incidents of this sort should be avoided because they tend to be full of symbolism but lacking, unfortunately, in strategic substance.  

The dissident community in Dakar is now in the hundreds, if not thousands, sufficient to mount a formidable Gambian-led protest against the tyranny in the Gambia but it appears that the community is not organized. The formation of a DUGA-like umbrella organizing structure should be a top priority of the dissident/refugee community in Dakar.    

Recent events have compounded an already strained relations between the government of Macky Sall and the refugee community in Dakar thus putting to the test the limits of Senegalese "Teranga" - a test that Senegal probably has never experienced before in its long history of welcoming refugees fleeing African dictators from all corners of the continent.

The host, Senegal, has displayed maturity and grace toward its treatment of Gambian refugees in the face of innuendos and unsavory claims - bordering on personal attacks - against President Macky Sall and members of his government which have been appropriately ignored, showing the maturity of Senegalese democracy and the decency of the accused.  

Senegal has been a gracious in the face of adversities, both real and manufactured.  It is time for Gambians to reciprocate by behaving less adversarially towards their Senegalese host.   The enemy is not President Macky Sall or his government.  The enemy is Yaya Jammeh and his repressive, corrupt and inept government.