Oped: The Gambia: The CORDEG and GDAG tiff; remember, every dark cloud has a silver lining

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By Mathew K Jallow

The shocking resignation from CORDEG, of GDAG, the principal organizer of the historic Raleigh Conference, under the leadership of Alkali Conteh, followed soon by more resignations of three senior CORDEG executives; Jaineba Bah, Lamin Tunkara and Demba Dem, is significant in many ways. It is significant not so much for the existence any sense of irreconcilable differences, but because the protagonists reflect strategically and perhaps even deep philosophical differences, which CORDEG was unable or unwilling to reconcile in a timely manner. No matter how it got to this point, it is, at this juncture, unwise and totally presumptuous to speculate and ascribe any reason behind a split that has thrown the entire Raleigh effort in complete disarray, even as it demoralizes the struggle in many other ways. It is clear from listening to GDAG’s Alkali Conteh and the three former CORDEG executives, on Gainako radio, that their commitment to the struggle is undiminished by the adversarial nature in which this divorce from CORDEG has unfolded. While it may be important to dig deeper for answers into what just transpired, ours is an impatient struggle not likely to benefit from the endless squabbles of accusations and counteraccusations. By dwelling on the GDAG split beyond what we have already learnt from the primary actors, others as well as the protagonists risk running into the counterproductive effect of further inflaming and creating deeper unnecessary and divisions. One thing we can say with absolute certainty is that for an organization like GDAG, which was the host of the Raleigh Conference, and three former executives, to throw in their towels so soon, presents what is left in CORDEG an opportunity to reflect and learn from the earthshaking event.  

For now, we may or may not know the personality interplay at CORDEG before the divide that has nearly decapitated the organization and halted a significant part of the dissident effort against Yahya Jammeh. It would be hard, if not near impossible for CORDEG to now recover from this devastating blow, but for the struggle, we must reassure ourselves that it is not entirely hopeless. The struggle can seize the rationale behind this bitter and rancorous break and use it as a learning tool to make our collective effort better and more productive. Since the struggle for political change began, this is by far the most jaw-dropping split the struggle has experienced. and its shadow will continue to loom large over the entire struggle against Yahya Jammeh for s long time to come. If there is a lesson to be learnt from this political divorces, it is that it often tends to create new unlikely friendships, but also both fleeting as well as enduring enemies. The CORDEG and GDAG divorce can learn from this historical fact that we may sometimes have significant strategic differences, but the objective fact is that we all share the same broader aspirations. GDAG’s wholesale resignation from CORDEG, and that of three senior executives, paradoxically demonstrates an undisputed and unwavering commitment to the struggle, and presents a foundation for a new beginning. We will continue to take stock of what each organization is doing, more importantly still, determine that these differences often give rise to new opportunities to regroup around a singular objective. It is what Gambians expect, and we cannot afford to stand still as Yahya Jammeh’s rampage in our country continues unabated. As the famous Irish poet once W B Yeats poignantly wrote: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

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