Gambian Victory over Tyranny

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Nation poised to recover from almost two decades mass suffering cannot
have it two ways

thAuthor: Sarjo Bayang

Generations of people have gone by it that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Feed a person and win him. Deprive a person food and you invite trouble. Gambia is just fitting that example. People have been tested with hunger and deep cut painful life; lost all elements of principled values and genuine pride, with shattered pieces of the social fabric harder to put together.

Broken principles and swallowing pride

Economic opportunity seeking tends to override the need for collective interest. Everyone resorts to survival motive in bidding for the “daily bread” just enough for the day. “Give us this day our daily bread“, let us trespass or sin against our friends and neighbours if that puts sufficient food on the table. Rule of the game turns to you not being able to beat them, so join them.

Serious as anyone chooses to believe or not, Gambia is no longer what it used to be. Yes, some hope for the future but on account of what obtains now, everything has been broken for everyone. Where angels turn into devils, there is no surprise that we have a reading on the board that says “the end justifies the means.”

Morally principled keepers of better values will interpret that to mean as though it does not matter what means you get what you want, just end up getting it. If you think they are wrong, turn the coin round.

Shared economic burden unshared benefits

Regarding the national cake, vast majority of people in Gambia have no clue what the true size looks like. There is deliberate scheme of deception by custodians of public resources to ensure that only fewer people know how much is in stock.

Annual plans and budgets are flagged up on project milestones by ghost fingers. Neatly placed in text and publicly read during budget time, things never follow as promised.  Last time anyone hears about figures is another budget session next year round.

While the economic burden is largely endured by majority of the people, national cake and benefits are so unevenly distributed. Those who hold the knife are the ones that cut the cake. On their plates is where everything drops. Inside their deep pockets they keep for selfish use what everyone else deserves.

Even projects that are designed to attract funding never get delivered properly. Meetings are held with communities. When they visit communities on such meetings, they leave behind dust and hope. Dust from project vehicles produce enough hope for next visit. By end of the meeting, project staffs weed enough food and livestock from the communities. Goats, sheep, cocks, foodstuff are robbed from poor farmers at neck cutting money value exchange.

Those vehicles and motor cycles are part of the budget that government promises transporting development projects on wheels.  What makes the situation so bad is that those deprived the use value of public resources are never exempted from paying rates and taxes for their low standard houses, cattle, or other taxable possessions. That is what it means having to share the economic or tax burden while being denied access to benefits.

Dancing to tunes of Dollar Might

Where the supposedly noblest turn into meanest of society is no good sign to call better life. Dictatorship runs like putting everyone in one big prison camp. The strongest became lame ducks. Loud voices end up sounding like thin drums. The weaker get weaker.

Most challenging difficulty for people under dictatorship is when the control valve for cash flow is under one lock as the situation in Gambia has it. Slavery is less severe than dictatorship. At least the slave master takes responsibility for being inhumane. Dictators are normally so arrogant and proud to yield.

Decent Gambians have been subjected to settle for next available hand out with limited or no choice. Bills have to be paid and food on the table not expected to miss for long; at all cost.

Street begging is no longer reserved for the lower brackets of society. People have to hang their coats in the office with pretext they are not gone far while trampling the streets for any chance to road tax someone they may not even need to know.

Price levels are reaching fever pitch with no corresponding rise in pay scales. That is as if most Gambians have bare minimum job prospects to bank on. Farmers have two harvest seasons. One of it is when crops ripe after three months rainfall. The other harvest is when election nears and vote buying becomes another commodity with pecuniary exchange value. Both are short lived income prospects.

On the longer run, public servants and farmers join ranks as dictatorship transforms everyone into beggars. No amount of pretence tackles the situation. Even those with top public office positions in their lone moments keep on biting their tongue with nothing to chew for bare survival. They blame someone in silence while praising same person in public. Dictatorship creates such unbearable conditions for even the most supposedly decent and noble in society.

Though Gambia is far from America, it is the US Dollar that speaks as though an invisible minting plant is mounted behind someone’s backyard to keep so much fresh notes flowing in the cask track. If America is not worried about a tiny West African nation trading in Dollars, who cares? Tyranny thrives on many ways.

Someone suffers while everyone looks on

Nobody can tell who is next on the line to be picked, persecuted, executed, or detained indefinitely. It is certain that within some interval, surprised visitors knock on doors. Under Gambia dictatorship and tyranny, friends turn into foes by next minute. Everyone is a suspect waiting to be handled and bundled.

It is rather amazing that lessons are taught but learning does not take good effect. Dictators in their tyranny play one person against the next person. Tyrants have regular interest and no lasting friendships.

Sadly, as more people take their turn in getting the hard whip from Gambia’s tyranny, everyone looks on as though none of their concern. What happens to bitter enemies one late evening may become the fate of close friends next morning. Tyranny is sustained by dividing society based on selfish line of thinking.

Resistance on the ground

All may not seem going well for Gambian tyranny. People on the ground are keeping mute with hardened hearts and thick skins. Resistance does not always take violent nature. Refusing to accept tyranny takes a process. When patient levels pull beyond point of elasticity nothing stops people from rising to defend their rights.

All tyrants take momentary comfort with false sense of security. When you visit a city with lot of police present on every street no need to ask about crime levels.

Under tyranny, uniform personnel are visibly present in ways depicting typical police state. Citizens have no right of lawful association except for those that serve the tyrant in suppressing others.

From July 1994 to year 2013 is no short spell of time to teach old dogs new tricks. Everyone is aware of what’s going on. It is clear to everyone that only the tyrant has his interest defended. For rest of the population it is a matter of time bomb ticking on.

To ensure that they inflict lasting pain on the majority, tyrants have to get backing from elites and petit bourgeois elements. These are people who pretend to be working in public positions while in reality all they do is dance to tunes played by the dictator.

Tyrants even advance into privacy of their victims and take good swipe at those seen to be serving under them. Those who experienced under Gambian dictatorship broke with stories of personal insults including profanity directed at their parents. That is how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

After years of tongue biting grumbles most people in Gambia have come to terms that tyranny will end with collective resistance.

Stakes for Gambians abroad

Baffled by the fact of staying away from home in countries where personal freedom is upheld, most Gambians abroad thought it was normal keeping mute for fear of persecution during periodic personal visits.

Start talking or writing and next someone who may not even care about your welfare warns about risk of harmful encounter. You are told to mind your business and look after your immediate family.

General assumption has been that some careless adventurers will risk their life and tackle the tyrant by direct locking of horns. Then those who cunningly kept mute all the years will enjoy soft cushion effects of adventurers unseating the tyrant.

Over long periods since July 1994 experience of harmful encounters and people deprived off their genuine possessions has gone on the increase. Those who took false comfort abroad got to realise that by the tyrant mismanaging the national economy and financial system, even remittance they commit in helping families back home become indirect sources of revenue to keep the system running. Facts and figures from international finance capital bureaus confirmed how much remittance abroad contributes to national cake of tyrant nations.

One bitter truth for everyone abroad is that the dream home and personal comfort that your hard work is meant to give no longer holds. Every hard currency that is remitted back home is handled by a financial system under control of the tyrant. How naïve will anyone abroad continue believing that all is well to keep quiet while your hard income is feeding a tyrant and his key players? When all Gambians abroad decide taking collective decision in momentary stop to remittances, a loud noise will awake the sleeping giants back home.

Economic failure eats up rich and poor alike

Bottom line of the whole quagmire that Gambia slumped into since July 1994 coup is deep biting economic hardship and trying financial challenges suffered by rich and poor alike.

Business is no longer going as usual. Some curiously observant entrepreneurs going by trends decided switching business lines or total relocation to prospectively better places. Others have succumbed to harsh conditions leaving the challenge to more striving persons.

It does not do anyone good when financial pillars of the economy fall apart. In the short run, temporary gains might have little inducements to keep hopes alive. Over the longer run, when the economic engine is unable to propel nobody tells the next person about part of the shoe the nail is pinching.

The price of permitting a tyrant with bad heart and destructive free hand to cause damage is paid by everyone in one way or another. Silence in pain is no viable option.

Figures are not always speaking facts

Balancing the books of account with neatly presented high figures is no solution. The truth is that anyone’s crafty ability in book keeping is nothing near enough to the reality when dealing raw cash management. The best accountants are not necessarily the most prudent allocators of resources in handling public finances.

Next generation rollover

Take a moment to reflect on everyone’s contribution by extension of today’s mismanaged resources and how that impacts on next generation including the young and unborn. By failing to tackle tyranny and mismanagement of public resources in this generation, the damage transcends your very life time. True victory over tyranny for Gambia is not a gift by angels from high. Someone’s contributory negligence regarding the present can have severely damaging effect that impact on everyone.

With increased awareness of stakes at hand Gambians in all social brackets are bracing up for undoing the very environment that permitted tyranny and unseating the tyrant.

Next most challenging task is to ensure that in generations what led to the present predicament never happens any more.

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