GAMBIA: A Poisoned “Nation-State” in Search of an Antidote
In a broad spectrum analysis for treatment, Gambia is not the only poisoned society in urgent need of an antidote to repair and restore the health of our society. The same poison that afflicts Gambia ravages the entire continent. And it is because of this commonality as “poisoned states” that whatever antidote is prescribed for Gambia will in all likelihood work for all of Africa.
What venomous creature inflicted this poisonous bite on Africa? The forthright answer is the neocolonial state. We must admit without compromise or fear of intimidation that, “God” has nothing to do with our poisoned society. In our quest for an antidote, we must take a courageous stance and separate “religious convictions from historical facts”. The culprit is simply the socio-political set up which gave birth to the horrifying economic conditions of misery and impoverishment. Following the examples of the European aggressors and the Arab assault, the neocolonial state embodied aggression and assault into its state machinery to suppress all our aspirations for prosperity in exchange for a permanent “beggardom”; a rabid dependence on “aid” from those who perpetuate our misery.
Colonialism was the first poison, the path upon which false independence was handed to the Jawara regime which became an additional venom and misery. But surpassing the Jawara regime in all aspects of repression and greed, the venomous Jammeh regime has succeeded in eroding integrity (Joom) and created a society of shameless sycophants and praise singers at the expense of social consciousness. Nowhere is this shamelessness and pretentious behavior more evident than at the “civil service”, where policy is implemented. Completely drained of all dignity, this thing called the “civil service” is kicked in the face and groin by Jammeh at will without any complaint, let alone a protest. The most disgusting aspect of this “sucking up to Yaya” for a “job” happens among the “pseudo-intellectuals”, the most unreliable and impotent sector of Gambian society. But equally disgusting is the muted and completely emasculated judiciary; a den of mercenary judges.
First, let’s establish with certainty the source of this poison and the antidote that eluded our consciousness for the pass centuries, subsequent to the concerted attacks from all fronts; internal and external.
THE SOCIAL POISON
In my view, all other poisoned sectors of our society – economic, political and cultural – stem from our level of social consciousness or lack thereof. In human society, everything begins at the level of social interactions, out from which the people become the real makers of history and in turn, history is the real maker of people. Consequently, it is in this process of social history that a believe system is laid as foundation upon which a society is erected, constantly reaching for higher ideals, progress and prosperity. Irrefutable historical evidence proves such societies did exist throughout Africa but were under constant attack from “Arab” and European cultures.
In SeneGambia, as recent as the generation of our grandparents, there existed a resilient society that withstood foreign invasion and domination with far more heroic bravery than the myopic “post independence” generations. The concept of “feathering one’s own nest” has been the driving force behind the Jawara and Jammeh regimes; the folly of African presidents and their “sharers of crumbs”. This common repulsive behavior was once looked upon with scorn prior to the dismemberment of our believe system. Now, greed and shamelessness reign supreme to the point of being celebrated and rewarded. The more unscrupulous the politicians, the more “respect” they command.
In our quest to restore normalcy and regenerate the paths that remain blocked from us “reconnecting with our forgotten and suppressed history”, it is extremely important for us to know what parts of our history was “snuffed out”. The sticking point question is. What is it that was snuffed out? To know what was snuffed out of our society, we must return to the source – our social history. Unless we establish a historical grounding of ourselves without compromise, we will remain forever vulnerable to exploitation and humiliating impoverishment; an insult of our intelligence from the ilk of Jammeh.
For the sake of clarity, we will focus on SeneGambia, which in no way excludes the rest of Africa. Our recent problems started when our emerging “post independence elite” deliberately and in some instances under incapacitating pressure, severed our connections to our particular social history and ultimately to our interconnections with the “Cultural unity of Black Africa”. The neocolonial state relinquished all responsibilities to elevate our social consciousness through social - history and engaged in blind religiosity with grotesque adoration of European and Arab cultures.
Once the detachment and disconnect from our history was consolidated through indoctrination, our entire social structure became susceptible to attacks, misinterpretations and caricatures “with images so repulsive” that nothing African is attractive. With the erosion of our social structures, such as our traditional learning institutions (initiations into man and womanhood) and our collective sensibilities as were expressed in our compound living structures, withered our believe system. A believe system simply determines the matrix around which societies function and are identifiable as such.
For the sake of clarity and not comparison, let us reference China and India, two ancient civilizations much younger than Africa, which were also victims of colonial aggression but at all odds maintained and preserved their believe systems in tandem with Christianity (European) and Islam (Arab). The maintenance and preservation of one’s believe system facilitates an efficient group behavior which asserts unity as a focal point of progress. It is the absence of our believe system that fragment our resistance against imperial aggression and lock us into a logic of speaking with 54 different voices; therefore the concept and lofty ideal of unity remains vague in our consciousness.
RECRUITING REVOLUTIONARY IMAMS AND PRIESTS
Since society provides the “matrix for individual growth”, all sectors of our society must be organized to overturn the neocolonial mindset, grossly steeped in ignorance. Because of the role “religion” plays in deepening ignorance, we must wage relentless struggle to create and cultivate the conditions for revolutionary Imams and Priests to rise within our ranks to resolve these contradictions of religiosity. The revolutionary Imams especially, can help us expose and arrest the current trend of escapist fanaticism that many of our brothers and sisters are resorting to when they have nothing more to offer us but fear. Many of these fanatics indulged in reckless life styles prior to being struck by this blind religiosity. These doped fanatics fear Jammeh more than they “fear God”. They claim to be non political but yet would pray for the longevity of the Jammeh regime at the expense of our national happiness. Throughout this ordeal of Jammeh’s tyranny, the Priests have always maintained their integrity by not competing for APRC crumbs. In contrast, the parasitic Imams who catch the brunt of Jammeh’s insults and tantrums remain to be shameful praise singers and “sharers of crumbs” of the AFPRC-APRC gangster regime. It’s because of this dilemma that we call upon the Imams and Priests to join our ranks and become revolutionaries for a proud future Africa.
A vital part of the antidote must be to expose and demolish the shameful “marriage” between the predatory politicians and the parasitic religious leaders, the classic representation of “from the frying pan to the fire”.
THE POLITICAL POISON
As a consequence of running away from ourselves, we “drifted into disorganized, reckless and distorted living” evident in the politics of managing our misery, with no relief in sight. The politics of “climbing the slimy pole of success” has become the order of the day within the AFPRC-APRC regime. Still under the stupor of other believe systems and the misery they brought us, we also lost knowledge of the land and abandoned our “bread basket” in exchange for the sprawling “beggar – tropolis” eye sore of Sere Kunda, Bakau and Banjul. These same “eye sore” cities and towns are common in Senegal, particularly in Dakar, Kaolack and other smaller localities. With all our traditional social structures almost completely dismantled, the only likely political outcome is the current nightmare of the neocolonial state.
JAMMEH REGIME IS NOT THE ANTIDOTE
Far from being an antidote, the Jammeh regime has become the most potent venom injected into this system of rot. While fronting as the only “patriot” (a blind patriot at best) and as an advocate for “African Unity”, his narrow selfish interest supersedes the national and continental interest. But neither does the “opposition” possess any antidote properties to neutralize this venom. The fact of the matter is that the opposition is set on the same run - away track as the “incumbent ruling parties” to supervise our never – ending misery. Cite one “opposition” party whether as a coalition, single handedly or through a coup d’etat, that came to power to solve the least of our problems. The history of the “opposition” in the Gambia has been one of emasculation, evident in the 30 years stretch of the Jawara regime and his strategy of seducing many opportunist “opposition” party members to “cross carpet” into the Peoples Progressive Party (P.P.P). The “opposition” harbors the same sentiments and aspirations as the “ruling party” to accumulate ill gotten “wealth” as our lives degenerate into abject misery. The opposition is no different under the reign of Jammeh. The same elitist tendencies, the reactionary ethnic affiliations and the drooling at the mouth for “power” to supervise our misery became more apparent in 2006 NADD coalition.
To buttress the point of the “opposition” being equally poisonous as the incumbent ruling parties, let us cite an infamous example of the “opposition in power”. The closest to us is Senegal, which took a hard kick to the face after a coalition of the opposition lifted Abdoulie Wade on to the saddles of power. Less than a year into his presidency, a considerable size of the population expressed their disgust as such: “President Wade is even worse than Abdou Diouf”. And adding insult to injury, he intends to impose his son Karim Wade on the Senegalese as their next president. Worst still, he has bought and sold all the shameless “opposition leaders” into his government. Lest we forgot what the opposition did in Zambia and what is currently suffocating Kenya, Ivory Coast and even Nigeria.
From 1961-2006, a span of 45 years, at least eight elections have taken place in the Gambia. And if we have paid attention, this period of - elections- selecting the predators to supervise our never ending misery is the most violent moment in the oppressed countries; Africa in particular. The horizontal violence incited among the masses of “voters” and the vertical violence unleashed by the neocolonial state makes a mockery of this “democratic process”. If elections remain to be the driving force to raise the social consciousness of society, it will forever remain at gutter level.
In the past 45 years of this futile exercise of “elections”, you who cast the votes continue to take part in maintaining the breeding ground that raise the most unscrupulous “citizens” we call “politicians”; they that count the votes. Aside from the senseless waste of resources and violence, elections play a significant role in the “illusions of progress”. Elections in and of itself and as we know it in Africa can never be an antidote. It entangles us in the erratic strategy of “multi-party” politics, the madness of having an average of 10 to 30 political parties in a country senselessly competing for political office to manage our misery at the benefit of imperialists who allow only two viable political parties in their respective countries for the past centuries. It is the elected officials who should live in fear of the voters as oppose to the voters living under the terror of elected officials.
THE ECONOMIC POISON
Under such a “loose cannon” political buffoonery, the only predictable outcome is a run-away-economy and at worst a dependent economy, in which “emperor Jammeh” is fighting to own and control everything that relates to our subsistence. He dishes out money and throws bread and other food items at spectators as testimony of his benevolence towards Gambians. Imagine Yaya of all people, severely malnourished at the time of the coup, throwing bread at the people he claims to love. What more insults does he have in store for us? All of his benevolent acts must be broadcasted on Gambia Radio and Television (GRTS), his personal propaganda media.
Jammeh donates vehicles to “his military”, dole out cash to hospitals and other government institutions with total disregard for the body of “law makers” at the national assembly and the designated financial institutions. To put it bluntly, Jammeh is the economy of the country. He sells meat, bread and other food stuff from his farms where “forced labor” is imposed upon his stooges in the civil service as a guarantee for their jobs. Where does all this money come from?
The economic ignorance and insulting behavior of Jammeh surpasses only that of those who uphold the “vibrant economy” illusions in the Gambia. The “cost of living”, since overtaken by the “cost of dying” is most appropriate to describe the economic madness of the AFPRC-APRC regime. The only thing cheap in the Gambia is the people, everything else is expensive. The staggering rate of unemployment, under employment and the seasonal employment, once associated with the tourist industry impacts worst among the youth.
It is only in a revolutionary process that the people can develop the ability to create political tactics and formula that lead to victory.
DIVIDED BY COLONIAL SLAVERY, REUNITED THROUGH REVOLUTIONARY RESISTANCE
We must look within ourselves for inspiration as oppose to looking at the wrong sources for an antidote. We don’t need to look up to America, Europe or China for inspiration. Inspiration must start from within for us to have the confidence and the moral fortitude to achieve and accomplish what we will.
Like most of you, I recall with deep admiration how united my grandparents were and how it inspired me at an early age to always struggle for principled unity. With no “formal education”, they maintained an unshakable integrity within the biological family and the community at large. But now, the more “educated” we get, the more we drift from unity within the “family” and at the national level. In fact, the more “educated” we get the more reactionary the society become. This statement by an African writer captures it best: “there are more graduates with illiterate ideas, than illiterates with a wrong sense of value”. Likewise, Kwame Nkrumah refers to it as “a nail without a head”, once driven in, it’s set to stay. Additionally, it is upon the weaknesses of “tribalism” and reactionary ethnic affiliations that the predatory politicians and the parasitic religious leaders feed on to deepen ignorance.
Cheikh Anta Diop, the great African Internationalist wrote in his classic “Civilization or barbarism” that “slavery re – tribalized Africa”. Therefore, we must have the courage to drain the “tribal pool”, from which politicians and all our enemies tap into as “fodder for ignorance”, a source of reactionary politics and backward social tendencies. “Tribalism” and its poisonous twin, reactionary ethnic affiliations have never done us any good and never will.
OVERTURNING THE NEOCOLONIAL MINDSET
Building a new society is no easy feat for “lazy intellectuals”, unscrupulous politicians or the parasitic religious leaders. We must safe ourselves by the sweat of our own brow, a task accomplishable only under the leadership of revolutionary thinkers and doers. From all the historical facts and events that litter our lives of misery in SeneGambia and Africa in general; there can be no viable antidote without a revolutionary leadership. We must cultivate a leadership without social hang-ups and complexes (tribal or ethnic), the first obstacle to principled unity. Herein lays the antidote: in a leadership with foresight, well informed by hindsight and the element of calculation for posterity. By now, the antidote to this ruinous poison should not escape any mindful African. In unity there is LIFE; disunity spells our death.
But the sticking point question arises: how do you convince a demoralized and beaten down society that a better life is possible after 45 years of misery under the Jawara regime and the impending doom wished upon us under the Jammeh regime? With escalating uncertainty, life in the Gambia hinges on the dictates of one some Jammeh, an “erratic strategist” fronting as an advocate for “African unity” and love for Gambia.
We must change direction; we must take a new direction in life to convince our demoralized society that a better life is possible than the “life spent waiting upon death”. But taking this new direction is impossible with the “ruling party” or the “opposition”. Neither of them can lead us out of this madness because of their poisonous politics. The lengthy duration of chaos by the Jammeh regime is due to the fact that all the revolutionaries and progressives are trapped in isolation which in turn creates ample room for ignorance and the deadly opportunism rampant in the country. We must not allow Jammeh to disperse and scatter us any further. There couldn’t be a better time than this to escalate our resistance against Jammeh’s tyrannical regime. The crises in the Gambia has reached its razor-sharp point, capable of piercing through Jammeh’s “amour of invincibility” and relief Gambia of its poisoned condition. This is the time to cultivate the leadership to be tasked with reversing the impending doom of the neocolonial state.
Human society in this 21st century has gone through a drastic shift from the old imposed relationships of master and slave, exploiter and the exploited to a massive resistance by the exploited to reclaim and control their resources for their own development. But this tumultuous shift seems to elude Africa; still trapped in inertia, still allowing the looting of the continent unabated. This shift is quite evident in “Latin America” under the emerging revolutionary leadership of the likes of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, both determined to constrict the flow of resources out of their respective countries for their own genuine development.
The antidote to our poisoned “nation states” resides in the emergence of a revolutionary leadership determined to make a radical shift from the old imposed colonial relations that disconnected us from our believe system. There must be a new beginning; a new way of living to change the way we think of ourselves. For us in the Gambian front of the African revolution, the shift will begin in the founding of a new revolutionary political party with no allegiance to the neocolonial state and “opposition politics”. A suggestion is to name the organization: The ALTERNATIVE PARTY for “dual and contending power”. All evidence shows that neither the Jammeh regime nor the opposition possesses the ability to get us out of these miserable conditions; instead they are designed to manage our misery.
There is no future with the neocolonial state whether under Jammeh or the impotent “opposition”. The fact of the matter is that, the neocolonial state nor the opposition have the present in their hands more over having a future to pass on to generations to come. You cannot pass on what you don’t have in your possession.
To all the sons and daughters of the Gambian front of the African revolution who are genuinely fed up with our miserable conditions of living and equally determined to create a new society; here is your opportunity to cast your lot with The ALTERNATIVE PARTY FOR “DUAL AND CONTENDING POWER”.
When we took part in the founding of NDAM – National Democratic Action Movement – many of you applauded it but with reservations, the main criticism being against Lamin Waa Juwara. As the saying goes; “when a king puts a poet in his payroll, he cuts off the tongue of the poet”. Whether Waa’s tongue is cut off or still in his mouth, he obviously does not champion the voices of the suffering Gambian masses; instead he praises “emperor Jammeh”.
To us, the failure of NDAM to have been the vehicle for our genuine liberation from the claws of the monstrous Jammeh regime is only a mere setback. And as we understand it, a setback is nothing but a setup for a comeback. One clarion call for our liberation is never enough. There will be many more calls for our liberation; a “historically determined necessity”. We make this call for the ALTERNATIVE PARTY from the mountain top, in view of a proud-future Gambia where we will run to for solace as oppose to running away from it because of tyranny.
This is the comeback! No excuses and spectators allowed this time around. We cannot accomplish any of our aspirations for liberation from the position of powerlessness. Our struggle is to control state power; power in our hands to overturn the neocolonial state and the mentality of beggarly- dependence it perpetuates.
The AFPRC-APRC is poised for the “rule or ruin” of our beloved Gambia evident in the continuous intimidating threats of “heads will roll”, the den of mercenary judges in their courts, indefinite detentions, disappearances, and mysterious deaths of “soldiers” and civilians. In a span of 15 years, the AFPRC-APRC regime has embittered every sector of Gambian society without any meaningful protest. Beneath the surface, the entire country is boiling with disgust for the Jammeh regime but on the surface there exists a pretentious atmosphere of happiness.
The question is, what are we poised for? With the ALTERNATIVE PARTY, we are poised for the final offensive against the Jammeh regime. Jammeh and his “tin soldiers” claimed to have been dissatisfied with the Jawara regime and “lay their lives on the line”, we in turned are beyond disgust of the AFPRC-APRC and are willing to lay our lives on the line for our liberation.