Friday, December 12, 2014

Gambia : A battered and demoralized nation

The Gambia is like a battered wife.  Anytime the abusive husband enters the room, she instinctively takes on a defensive posture to protect her face and body from the vicious blows that are likely to follow.  Yaya Jammeh has so habitually abused and humiliated Gambians that anytime he shows his ugly face, an entire nation is on edge, wondering when the next blow will throw and where it will land in an already battered body.

The dire nature of Gambia's predicament always reminds me of Yaya Jammeh's uncle's  horrifying warnings to an inattentive nation that the junta's enemies defined as residents of Pipeline, that they will be force-feed chloroquine, if necessary - as punishment, I presume - for being born into privileged families of civil servants.  These unfortunate souls were also guilty of "enjoying" under Sir Dawda's administration while the mother of Yaya Jammeh and both parents of the Singhatey brothers lived in unfinished structures by night while barely eking a living by day in I civil servant's "mansions" as maids.  Little did Gambians know that John P. Bojang, who died recently, meant every word of it.

When I became Foreign Minister in November 2004 - March 2005,I visited Taipei and was received by him in his capacity of Gambia's Ambassador to Taiwan.  Every gesture and utterances of Mr. Bojang, at the time, suggested regret that those words will haunt him to his grave.  I brought it up only to watch him squirm Those were hurtful and vindictive words that became the hallmark of what has morphed from a kleptocratic military "soldiers with a difference" regime of 1994 to the full-blown repressive "Futampaf" dictatorship we have today.

This brings me to the elders of Banjul who, like the in-laws or the good neighbor, are expected to step in on the side of the abused wife or child.  Unfortunately, they have shirked their collective responsibilities toward society in exchange for raw cash, titles and other amenities denied the more deserving and better qualified in exchange for occasional trips to GRTS to sign praise to the dictator and to chastise and admonish good and decent citizens like Imam Baba Leigh or Ba Kawsu Fofana who dare challenge the authority and policies of Yaya Jammeh.

One can see how Yaya Jammeh, a functional illiterate, managed to cling to power by murdering, maiming, torturing, executing women and the mentally-challenged extra-judiciarilly, raping, stealing from the public treasury, raiding the Central Bank and forcing educated Gambians into exile.  Instead of fighting back, we elected to throw away our moral compasses, checked out consciences at the door together with our common decency in exchange for some worldly paraphernalia.  Just watch members of the Supreme Islamic Council seated behind a mountain of chase representing nothing but bribe money without an iota of guilt or embarrassment.  These are the same men moralizing about gay and lesbianism when the entire economy and our livelihoods are going to hell in an hand basket. What a shameless bunch of Banjul Mullahs.

Gambia has been emptied of a majority of its good and decent citizens.  Most of those left behind have either succumb to the repressive forces like the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) or risk being made to disappear or sent to Mile II prisons. Compliance with the obnoxious laws is no guarantee of one's safety because all it takes is the word of an APRC supporter against an innocent person to face the wrath of Jammeh's age. Husbands have turned against wives, sisters against brothers and friends against friends. No more family visitations for fear that you will be set up by your own or friend.

Regrettably, North Koreans enjoy more personal freedoms than Gambians. Who would have predicted this even a decade ago without being laughed off stage.  Today, it is no laughing matter.  Everyone in The Gambia is as scared as the battered wife or the abused child.  The good neighbor is nowhere to be found, his silence bought by Jammeh with cash and patronage.

National salvation lies in our hands - the Dispora Gambians.  It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.   We on longer can sit on the sidelines and pretend that somehow the abusive husband will come to his senses and stop the abuse., especially when he's a proven drug addict.

The economy has been so terribly managed that jobs are being lost instead of being created, forcing our young men and daring young women into taking the "Back Way" at great personal risk.

Despite the that fact that the dictatorship has failed the youth, Jammeh has managed, until very recently, lying to them about creating a conducive environment for them to prosper by advancing their education thus increasing their chances of being gainfully employment.  It's all phony baloney as Karamba Touray is fond of saying.

The chickens have finally come home to roost.  Jammeh's own Finance Minister, faced with disturbingly huge deficit numbers had to face his colleagues last week to admit that "2015 is not going to be an easy year" which is still considered by many, including yours truly, to be an understatement.  Things are going to get extremely dire for many Gambians when many of them, exactly 33% of the population cannot afford three square meals a day, and many more facing hunger and malnutrition.  As I pen this blog, children in the CRR are already dying of hunger and malnutrition - a crisis that the regime is concealing from you and me.