|Jammeh with Information Minister Sheriff Bojang|
Public admission from the regime that there has been an attempt by Jammeh to reconfigure, not only the political terrain but the social and cultural makeup of the Gambia to the desirable mold ans liking of Yaya Jammeh.
The admission was in response to Jammeh's executive order ordering all female civil servants to cover their hair with head tie. While the Minister was genuinely defending his boss, his boss was backpedaling in the face of a blistering opposition and outcry from friends and foe alike.
We do agree with the Minister that Jammeh is engaged in social re-engineering as evidenced by his numerous policy initiatives and political moves. We have, for instance, expressed concern about the promotion of tribalism as a deliberate but covert, if not downright overt, public policy.
Jammeh has, on several occasions, stated publicly that no member of the Mandinka tribe will ever occupy the presidency again.[Jammeh deposed a Mandinka in his 1994 coup] Shortly thereafter, he dispatched a former Secretary General. Minister of Presidential Affairs who was also doubling up as Secretary General of Jammeh's political party to denounce the majority tribe in the Gambia by spewing anti-Mandinka rhetoric. Strangely enough, the former Minister belongs to the tribe that the dictator instructed him to disparage on government-controlled television.
Authoritarian regimes like Jammeh's tend to manipulate the population, using numerous techniques that render them totally dependent on government for survival. He has used state media and public resources to ensure that every weekend or so, there is music jamborees, "cultural" festivals and sex and drug parties in his home village of Kanilai where the young are inducted into the cult-like, zombie atmosphere where your ability to think independently diminishes and acting on command takes root.
This weekend, a batch of army ("militia" is a more appropriate word) is being entertained by Jammeh in his home village of Kanilai. These young men and women, the majority of whom are from Jammeh's own tribe, will be swearing their allegiance not to the state but to Jammeh. He will then feed them, provide them with plenty of sex and drugs as a way of winning their loyalty. No wonder most of them act more as thugs than soldiers out to defend the territorial integrity of The Gambia.
Unemployment of young people is high, especially in the rural areas where as many as 11,300 young men have escaped the drudgery of rural life in 2014 alone for a second chance at life in Europe because the regime of Jammeh has failed them. In fact, there are signs that the regime has a hand in the illegal movement of persons across international border - human trafficking - as both a source of illicit money and a way of easing the social tension that youth unemployment tend to generate. This could be seen as socially engineering the rural area where the majority Mandinka tribe live in order to reduce their numbers and lessen their potential political power.
Since it is all about number and statistics, The Gambia Bureau of Statistics has been politicized by the regime to ensure the numbers generated are consistent with the narrative that Jammeh wants the public to believe. He appointed a Director General from his tribe while sidestepping more qualified and far more experienced candidates. The fact that the final and official 2013 Census has been delayed for almost three years is a telltale sign that either the numbers do not add up - I have been assured that the numbers are okay which I accept - or the interpretation ( cum spin) put on the numbers may explain the delay. This is the first time that the Final Census of Population has been delayed for this long.
As we have said on numerous occasions, Gambians will not allow Jammeh or anyone else with similar ideas to succeed in their sinister attempt to sow the seeds of discord. We have been quite aware of Jammeh's social engineering crusade. But we can assure him that he will fail.