In May 2016, a Jammeh’s soothsayer edition sub-capped, “Is the End Near?” stated, Yahya shall fall from directions he least espies…” And what was the direction Jammeh least espied? ELECTIONS! Not just Jammeh, but almost the whole world never thought Jammeh would fall through an election. That eschatological edition was a no-brainer! It was common sense! But this write-up isn’t about Jammeh. It is an admonition for those with eyes to see or minds not destitute of honesty. The etiology of Africa’s problems incubates more in our own actions than most extrinsic factors. In absolute spite of national priorities such as economic prophylaxis, the vanguard of Jammeh’s successors are trading in individualism, selfishness, egoism, etc.
When you won the Serrekunda East seat in the night of January 17th 2002, we went to the PDOIS bureau and found you in your usual dull grey shirt and pants, settled on a wooden bench, calm and measured. We interviewed you while Amie Sillah was in another room. When asked what she was doing, a PDOIS staff retorted, “She’s sleeping.” You laughed with us and wisely added, in Mandinka, “Tell her, that today isn’t a day for sleeping.” Next we proceeded to Fabakary Tombong Jatta’s house in Tallinding. He too won. More results were being announced and my crew traversed the greater Banjul area, interviewing the night’s victors.
Next, Mr. Halifa, I had to go to the National Assembly to cover the swearing-in of all the NAMs. M.B Wadda (Allaah’s mercy on his soul) was Speaker. The House bloated as many people had no place to sit. Such seatless included Jammeh’s last information minister Sheriff Bojang. He had left the Daily Observer then. He came over and I gestured other media personnel to create room for him as he thrust his pelvis in that inconvenience. Then, came further chaos as there was some constitutional missteps regarding proper procedure of the task at hand. Mr. Halifa, you brought the House’s attention to it and hell broke loose.
Then Baba Jobe (Allaah’s mercy on his soul) rose to throw in his few cents. Speaker Wadda could be heard interjecting, “Sit down. Who gave you the floor?” Dust finally settled and each NAM took turn to register an oath. As soon as Halifa pronounced after the Ghanaian Chief Justice Felix Lartey, “I Halifa Sallah,” someone in the packed house exclaimed, “Ndeyysaan!” Although I’ve always respected Halifa, it has taken me almost fourteen years to fully appraise that passionate “Ndeyysaan” to his homage. I’ve already written before how different folks in America extolled this same Halifa as soon as they figured I’m Gambian. This, Mr. Halifa, isn’t any cheerleading for you. Please don’t let it exorcise the integrity from you. Thus, if there is a way to mend your differences with Darboe, Mai Fatty, and the UDP, please kindly do so just for Gambia’s prosperity.
Darboe! Please listen to a son. In August 2001, you invited me to the YMCA talks–the first ever opposition coalition meeting of such import in our history. When I arrived, Sheriff Dibba (Allaah’s mercy on his soul) had already left. Sheriff later ushered us into his Gloucester residence to duely remonstrate. Mr. Darboe, Sheriff said it was a “backstabbing” deal that made you the coalition flag-bearer for the 2001 elections. I’m using his diction. Deyda Hydara (Allaah’s mercy on his soul) was sitting next to me as I posed questions to Sheriff Dibba. He added “Why would PPP rush to choose Darboe” as soon as the flag-bearer question was raised? Sheriff lamented, as he blamed O.J Jallow. I was caught between cross-fires. O.J used to call me “son.” S.M Dibba used to call me “son.” Later, Mr. Darboe, you invited us to your Pipeline residence for a talk.
The 2001 YMCA talks faltered and the coalition thawed due to a schism over leadership. Jammeh wasn’t too brutal then, since people could say, “Tony Daabaa Jipohh,” and he did nothing. Solo Sandeng would have survived a protest in 2001 than 2016. If I write more about your temperament, shallow minds might think I have personal scores to settle. But I write for Gambia and Africa. I’m not interested in any political office in The Gambia. It hurts me when I see iPhone 7 or Galaxy Edge while we are still stuck with Dabandingo 1 or Murubaa 1. No one is asking us to re-invent the wheel, split the atom, or send Gambians to space. The world sees us as Africans either unable to guarantee peaceful transfer of power, or yet prepare for our children a bun of some economic solvency.
Mr. Darboe, in 2001 in O.J’s Pipeline house, you came and found O.J and I in a crucial interview. You summoned O.J to his chambers and asked him to stop the interview. Out of respect, O.J did as you said. Today, your actions have chased that O.J away from you. I left Gambia less than a year later to a land where I have never met a single human celebrating neither your mind, nor its integrity. Not even Gambians. But I have met Americans that revere a Halifa Sallah. Why? Not only because of the man’s mind, but his integrity and selflessness.
Halifa was still in the coalition when he was not picked for the presidency. You wouldn’t have born an iota of integrity and humility to do the same, Mr. Darboe. You always demonstrate that pig-headed obsession with power and leadership! And now Allaah brought someone unheard of, with very little skills, or even the ability to scarcely express himself, to be your president. Like it or not. This is how Allaah works, Mr. Darboe. (Please read about the Children of Israel in the Qur’aan when they asked Allaah to appoint a king for them and he chose Saul).
Remember NADD? You ruined it, like you ruined the 2001 coalition. Is it that when ever a strong coalition was in the manufacture, all Jammeh had to do was to relax and benefit from the Ousainou Darboe factor? The answer to this rhetorical question is buoyed on your ordeal at Mile II. Needless to say you’d have destroyed the 2016 coalition too if not for incarceration, the coalition that escaped your destruction is finally destroyed once you came out. If Gambians can’t see you’ve been a serious bottle-neck to unity, I seriously have to burn my Gambian passport. Seven parties united in your absence. As soon as you came out, everything fell apart. There is an an explicit common denominator in your history, Mr. Darboe.
I and many writers did warn Jammeh years ago. He never hearkens to our simple observations. Today, Jammeh is melancholically remorseful. Your actions have emboldened remnants of the APRC leadership and I see our country on a dangerous trajectory. The slightest chance of empowering APRC or Jammeh enablers should be considered a nuclear sacrilege. However, time-pressed, I will continue to write the soothsayer series each time I see a leader as venal as egoist, Insha Allaah. I don’t write for recognition or fame–one of the reasons no one has seen my photos. I care less about those. I write because I care about Gambia!