By Momodou Ndow
I don’t think I need to remind anyone of you what happened after the fall of Goloh. Some of you know it better than I do paski yenanga won sa digi yeffya, but we all felt it the same. The clouds of hope and freedom quickly formed and started pouring heavily. It washed away the fear and darkness that had permanently resided in Gambia for 22 bad years. Hope and freedom flooded the country, but it was a good flood. Although our drainage systems are poor, this was the type of flood we were all waiting for to gladly wade through, with or without boots. The good flood!
On Independence/Inauguration day, Gambians filled the stadium beyond capacity to witness the celebration of freedom and democracy, after many years of oppression; they could breathe again. Nothing like oxygen! Gambians in the diaspora too descended like eagles, to join in and feast on the new found freedom and help celebrate. The smiling coast turned frowning coast – was now smiling again. It was like the heavens had opened, and Gambia was now rising. Gambians united and decided to turn a new leaf of freedom and democracy, and the entire world was behind the country. President Barrow’s speech was inspiring and uplifting.
It didn’t take long before money came rolling in; Goloh had emptied the piggy bank and headed south. The country was virtually bankrupt! The EU pledged a €225m rescue package for Gambia, of which they delivered €75m in immediate funding and the remaining €150 is for long term help. Other major funding ceame in since then too. The coalition government had their agenda and we were all excited. The excitement was palpable! The youths were drunk with hope because a portion of the delivered €75m was earmarked for job and skills training for them. Their frustration had created the “backway” phenomenon, and this was a message of hope for them. To them, thing were now about to change and get better economically, and they could see it in the horizon. I guess perception is reality. Almost every Gambian had their own “priority wish list” of issues they wanted the government to tackle first; virtually everyone was fully engaged, as should be. The pending release of a blueprint announced and celebrated, and a Think Tank launched and celebrated too, and that was the last we heard.
And here we are now, eight months later, with very little tangible progress. There is still no VP appointed, the youths are wondering when will their pain ease, electricity is still sporadic, hospitals lack basic necessities, the economy is not gaining traction, and the bad floods are now here; trapping cars on the road and limiting mobility. It’s the rainy season again. Lavish contracts have been signed, but the people don’t know what they are getting for their money. The clouds of hope that rolled in after the fall of Goloh are now fading away, being erased by a dangerously intense partisan politics. Gambia survived the cancer of dictatorship, and is now being threatened by another new cancerous tumor – toxic partisanship. So far, beside freedom, Gambia has gained little to none.
We are also now being told that the MOU that the coalition government was based on was not signed by any of the parties. This seriously calls into question the coalition’s agenda, no doubt. Meanwhile, those in office have upgraded their entire wardrobes, and are gaining weight fast!