“Rebrandingis a marketing strategyin which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brandwith the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders.”

 

Two days ago, the Gambia government announced on the state broadcaster(GRTS) that President Adama Barrow had donated Eleven Million, Two Hundred and Fifty ThousandDalasis (D11,250,000 or $245,000)to Muslims performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. This announcement came barely 2 weeks after videos showing the deplorable state of our hospitals – no blood bags at the hospitals, nurses issued 3 pairs of gloves to use for an entire shift, no x-ray machines etc emerged. The response from Gambians was widespread outrage. The government took issue with the outrage. They claimed GRTS wrongly reported the story and promised to clarify. Up stepped Ebrima Sankareh, Gambia’s new government spokesperson. His job was to rebrandthe story to make it more palatable to the world.
The government’s statementreinforces something we’ve noticed in all of President Barrow’s speeches – that while their actions show that they they’re doing everything they can to be exactly like Dictator Jammeh, they’re also extremely focused on convincing Gambians that they’re different from him. To anyone paying attention, it seems like Barrow and Jammeh share more than a birth year.

Personally, I’m not a fan of comparing anything to Jammeh. I think we should set the bar higher and not use such a horrible person/system as our yardstick. However, since this branding seems to be more important to the current administration than working on actual change, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some of our marketing/brandingexpertsthat have emerged since we entered this illusion we call New Gambia.

 

First up for congratulations is  Ebrima G. Scaramucci…i mean, Sankareh aka “The Mooch”. After much thinking and deliberation, the best argument the government spokesperson could come up with was this cock and bull fairytale, basically arguing that the cash was donated by “An Anonymous Donor”, and not by President Barrow. I congratulate The Gambian “Mooch” for lasting longer in his job than US President Trump’s former White House Communications Director. Since his appointment, this is Sankareh’s third statement and his third consecutive screw up! He deserves congratulations for lasting longer than the 11 days the real Mooch lasted at the White House. With a 100% record of screw-ups, this man should thank his lucky stars that Barrow can’t read (yes, I went there) or he would have been fired after the first statement he issued.

 

The man went to great lengths to spin this long-winded tale about how the D11 M was from an “Anonymous Donor” instead of President Barrow … as if that matters. Allow me to digress a bit here. The fact that this is the best story they could come up with is evidence of how clueless these people are. It does not matter whether the money is from Allah’s Bank, Anonymous Donor or whether it’s Manna From Heaven. The President, a public official, accepting gifts from Anonymous Donors is CORRUPTION, a problem. Failure to disclose the source of the funds is a problem. Giving such a huge amount to pilgrims while ignoring important national priorities like the deplorable conditions at our hospitals and failing schools is a problem. The image of the President favoring one religion while paying no attention to all other religions and groups is a problem. The President and his team not even recognizing what the problem is, is a problem. The President and his team coming up with this ridiculous, unconvincing lie that is an insult to the intelligence of Gambians is a problem.

 

Next, I would like to congratulate “Allah” for rebranding his bank from “Allah’s Bank” to “Anonymous Donor.” He “chose” Jammeh to lead, gave him a mission of “we have a job to finish” and gave him a blank check to use as he pleases. Now he has “chosen” Moses Barrow to be our savior, gave him the same mandate of “we have a job to finish”, and gave him a blank check and credit card to an “Anonymous Donor” to use as he pleases. Well, let me clarify that our “Chosen Ones” are allowed to use these unlimited funds, except on important national priorities like health care, education, water and electricity, debt financing etc. Gifts, mosques, cars, parties and other misplaced priorities are of course totally cool.

My final congratulations go out to our esteemed Vice President, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. Someone get the Honorable a “musoor” and “kaala”(head tie and scarf), slap on some mascara/eye pencil, and get him to practice saying “indeed.” Oh, and don’t forget to feed him some “oggey” (porridge) to fatten those cheeks…and tadaa…. I challenge you to tell him apart from former VP Isatou Njie-Saidy! Anyone who (rightly) blamed former VP Njie Saidy for being an enabler/accomplice to Jammeh, but is unable to see or call out how complicit Darboe is to Barrow’s incompetence/mismanagement, needs to have their moral compass examined! The only difference is that Jammeh never called Njie Saidy his mentor. Barrow tells us Darboe is his political father/mentor. We’re often reminded of how much Barrow respects Darboe, and Darboe was the first one to threaten to sue anyone calling for Barrow to honor the coalition agreement to serve only for 3 instead of 5 years. Add all that to the fact that Darboe is the Vice President of this administration and it’s impossible to excuse him from any and all statements and actions carried out by this government. “Indeed,” Lawyer Darboe is Adama Barrow’s rebranded Isatou Njie-Saidy.

And while we busy ourselves with partisan words, arguments, spinning and other distractions, International Donors and other development partners are watching our government’s actions on good governance. Perhaps our rebranding will work on them too.