It has become common for people to ask, ‘Where were you when Jammeh was here , and why were you not criticizing?’ I think this type of position is ill-informed. Jammeh had a repressive regime and a very sinister way of silencing dissent. So, as ordinary citizens, it would have been foolhardy to take the regime head on.
Those of us who have no influence or voice [I am an ordinary classroom teacher] remained in the background doing whatever we could to survive. Well, December 2016 approached and all genuine Gambians were seized by a ‘political frenzy’. We campaigned, wrote articles and spoke to our people. The opposition did not disappoint. They came together and presented one candidate. We all went to the polls and voted for change. We were victorious and everyone was happy.
Now, there is a saying that ‘once beaten twice shy’. We all vowed never to allow one man to abrogate our rights again while we stand aside and watch. So, we therefore keep constant watch. Speak out when the need arises and criticise [constructively, I might add] anything we deem undemocratic. We all thought that there is hope for Gambia.
President Barrow has repeatedly said that there will be total freedom of the press and of expression. I told him about my activism and he said that that is good. ‘That is how we build a nation, together’.
Unfortunately, there has arisen those who would do anything to silence whoever says anything against Barrow and his regime. This is scary. I mean can’t they see the irony here? This is the same thing we accused Yahya Jammeh of, now it’s our turn. Have these people ever heard of being magnanimous in victory?
If anyone finds time to take a pen and write about the current issues, or talk about it openly, it is because he or she loves the country. We may differ with such a person in opinion but at least let us accord him/her the respect he/she deserves. We are all Gambians and no one is more Gambian than the other. We have to have a common goal. Pluralism is indispensable if we are serious about our democratisation process.
Whatever the case, asking someone why he didn’t speak out when Jammeh was here is unfair. Let us try to be objective in our criticisms. If we see an opinion, let us study it carefully before we start lambasting its author. And when we debate, let us talk about the issues rather than the personalities.
Together as one! We have a nation to build!