The Euphoria or the overpowering sensation among Gambians over the upcoming presidential elections in December 1st, should come as no surprise to anyone because majority of Gambians are victims of Yaya Jammeh directly or become victim because of the system he has put in place for anyone and also partially attributable to new faces mere presence familiar with Gambian politics of today. Perhaps more important, the issues at stake serve as a stark reminder of the incredible impact of December 1st elections have on the citizens and the country at large. Notable among our season political leaders are new candidates aspiring to take on the dictatorship by the names of Mama Kandeh and Dr. Touray whose star power has helped elevate them to being the center of conversations.
Majority of Gambians, myself included, are more engaged in our nations affairs due to the unspeakable terror against our citizens and we see the stakes of this election as being particularly high, probability the most consequential elections in Gambian history. But to deny the bona fide impact of the new celebrities that throw their hats in the race, have giving Gambians more hope than ever is somehow naive. In fact, Yaya Jammeh generated a huge buzz after Jailing the heroes and heroines of April 14/16 and killing the two Solo’s. Gambians were so proud of UDP executives whom despite of their old age and health, projected strength and leadership in a time of political chaos to stand for Gambia. More interestingly, Gambians became very tired of dictatorship and need change.
However, Yaya Jammeh surprise the nation from Kanilai rags-to-one of Africa’s richest dictator because he was partly an unknown figure and citizens thought he shares their values because of his compelling narratives back then. Fast-forward to 2016, dictator Yaya Jammeh knows he is a big failure, his unpopularity among Gambians are all time high, his killing spree have reach unbearable burdens on the shoulders of Gambians carrying dead bodies to the grave yards and his ran away scandals have exceeded the Gambian population patience. Hence, we all know he rigs the election process but the Gambian public reaction became have more supportive of the noble course as a call of duty to challenge him by all means necessary, and victory plausible. Discontent among many Gambians abroad, perhaps most importantly those at home yearning for change of the current political landscape which is designed to favors the Dictator, have made everyone calling for a Coalition.
However, with the technology of our online radios offering us constant access to information and social media becoming the dominant form of modern communication connecting Gambians from all parts of the world, some personalities with loose tongues— Spattered throughout social media have self-appointed themselves as surrogates and are flooding the airwaves with their little opinions that are very toxic for coalition seekers. Sadly, the rise of such voices whom yesterday, were never recorded in support of the struggle against dictatorship, or presenting formable solutions to our problems but are culminating us with their opinions just to frustrate the efforts of the Gambian people struggle. The discussion is mainly centered around Mama Kandeh and Dr. Isatou Touray because there is a common thread that connects the appeal of both Gambians at home and Diasporians. With the addition of their voices connecting the hearts of Gambian people besides as being authentic, It’s no surprise that both possess followings alongside — the tremendous support that UDP pulls in, the voter education PDOIS does on the ground and the contribution of the other parties over the years. This has brought along so much of energy around people because their mutual appeals are bred out of mama Kandeh’s charismatic personality and Dr. Touray personal convictions in particularly — because she has witnessed, interacted closely and helped so with many Gambians who eventually had overcome tremendous adversity of their pains.
Putting aside their irreverence which some people are pointing to, they have been able to tapped into a deep discontent among Gambians because it is evident that Yaya Jammeh is very dangerous and distrustful to continue leading for our nation. Yaya Jammeh is connected to weapon, drug scandals, inserting himself into Cassamance issue and more importantly, killing and exiling Gambians against their choice. Yaya Jammeh does not understand as a president, anything you do is associated with Gambia’s name. That’s why the presidency cannot be run like your own home or how you ran police stations in the past. If you speak, people will associate it with Gambia’s take on issues. However, we need a coalition to take on Yaya Jammeh and give us the mature leadership we deserve. UDP and other parties have tried going it alone, but it failed to yield the results we desired to end the dictatorship. It would have seemed unfathomable if we have coalition back then during those election cycles, Gambians would have been free by now. This is why the talks of coalition have garner such momentum and audience among desperate Gambians.
Although some people had been forecasting the implosion of the coalition by attacking credibility of some candidates especially Dr. Touray with unfounded allegations and pushing for internal struggles between the warring factions within our political parties. But past statements of seasoned party officials have signaled a willingness in the past for coalition. All in all, most of the current party officials embody that view and that is what Gambians want today. Things won’t happen in the bling of an eye but after much of the debate going on, we know we have fighters among our leaders whom are undeterred by the obstacles we perceived as big deal. In our country’s current political reality, my advice to our politicians is: make us believe again in the Gambian spirit of delivering on last minute on tough decisions when our backs are pushed against the walls of dictatorship. More specifically, God created things in pairs such as: Moon/Sun , Adam/ Eve or hawa, paradise/Hell fire and we are giving choice to enslave our self with dictatorship or the choice of freedom. There is nothing in between . The question then becomes: Do we want the handful among us to cloud our minds with afterthoughts fading back into obscurity — if we fail to deliver a coalition? At this point, coalition is the catalyst for a broader change. Yes we can!
By habib ( A Concerned Gambian)