Seeing the multitude of Gambians that thronged the streets; old and young, men and women, all visibly elated at the return of President Adama Barrow’s from Senegal is further testament to the relief the Gambians felt at seeing Yahya Jammeh’s back. Just as it obtained during the campaign season leading up the elections of December 1st2016; Barrow out and about sees the largest convergence of Gambians for one cause. At first it was HOPE, now it is hope laced with CERTAINTY; certainty that they will finally live in peace and have the peace of mind that two decades of tyranny denied them. The welcoming crowd was arguably the largest ever recorded in recent Gambian political history. Onlookers and reporters alike were amazed at how much Adama Barrow means for The Gambia. The degree of love, hope, and expectations directed at him can only be matched by the love and support shown him by the average man, woman, and child. Watching from afar, one cannot help but be emotional and wish to have been there to be witness to history.
Adama Barrow; the unity candidate indeed has the support of a unified nation behind him. A nation, that up to his ascendance was divided and was growing further apart through the schemes of Yahya Jammeh.
Yahya’s politics has always been divisive on every front imaginable; political ideology, region, faith/religion, and most devastatingly; ethnic. Yahya drove a wedge between some hardliners in his Jola ethnic group especially and the rest of the Gambia, but more so between those blind tribal loyalists and the Mandinka that he openly branded as his enemies and enemies on to the other tribes as well. In fact his politics was everyone against the Mandinka ethnic group; a group that constitute over 40% of the Gambian population. Every opponent of substance that Yahya faced emerged from the Mandinka tribe, beyond that, Yahya dabbled in the oracle and strongly believes in ancient African religions. It is claimed that the oracle prophesized that his successor would be from the Mandinka tribe and understandably so since they are the largest constituency in the country and are active in politics and seeking political office.
The Gambian people never attached so much importance to their ethnic groupings or tribe that they’d shun others. The relationships have always been cordial and mutually respectful. In fact, between the tribes of the Gambia, there exist joking relations, akin to the Dozens where sentiments expressed are taken jokingly to promote social cohesion. Inter-marriage was prevalent and as a result, every single Gambian has some familial relationship to at least one other tribe. But to Yahya, there was too much political capital to let pass, and for a novice like him in politics, anything goes since force will not always work. He has effectively driven a wedge between sections of his native Jola and the Mandinka especially just for personal gains.
But the Gambian people are better than that and they rose above it overwhelmingly, even his kinsmen rejected his stance. Fear of reprisals kept some at his side and unfortunately, he convinced others among his kinsmen that it’s them against everyone else.
Every major security outfit has a Jola as its head or second in command. The army, the Republican Guards, National Intelligence Agency, the Prison Services, and a host of other government departments and parastatals are all headed by his kinsmen. Qualified and competent individuals are sidelined, especially if they are Mandinka. With such divisiveness being strengthened, especially in public where he, as a sitting president verbally attacks and threatens the Mandinka with extermination, the nation rose in unity and repelled such poisonous utterances and alien philosophy. What emerged was a true representation of Gambian diversity, a prove of Gambian brotherhood as attested to in the national anthem; … And Join Our Diverse People To Prove Man’s Brotherhood… Born to a Fula mother, a Mandinka father, with Sarahule ancestry and Wolof upbringing, Adama Barrow is the convergence of The Gambia in one man and he will deliver The Gambia from the oppressive and divisive rule of Yahya Jammeh.
When Adama Barrow emerged on the political scene by stepping into the leadership fold of the United Democratic Party (UDP) after Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and the rest of the executive were jailed, Yahya knew that he faces a challenge that he has never faced in his two decades of tyranny. So close to the election, so unexpected, and with so much angst about recent events; he was at a loss as to how to contain this new threat. Adama Barrow was hardly known outside of the executive circle of the UDP and he was a man Yahya never saw coming. With his emergence, ordinary citizens and politicians alike saw an opportunity to, in a way, return the favor to Lawyer Ousainou Darboe for his years of sacrifice and to declare Solo Sandeng, without any ambiguity; a martyr for The Gambian cause whose death would not be in vain. It would never be business as usual for Yahya and the APRC. And so it was that a revolution was born. Here is a movement that will send a tyrant scampering and frantically looking for life lines to no avail; a movement that in the end sent him into exile to live under another dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea.
Gambians reclaimed their country for good. The sub-region, the continent of Africa, and the world stand with the Gambians to see their mandate upheld. With Adama Barrow and the coalition, A NEW GAMBIA IS BORN.
A democratic Gambia;
A unified Gambia;
A Gambia of sovereign citizens;
A politically aware Gambia, and with its birth, the emergence on the political scene of a generation of young, energetic, determined, fearless, ambitious and informed youth who will not be silenced, EVER AGAIN.
FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER.
God speed, and may the Divine guide you and your team to a more prosperous and tolerant Gambia.
Welcome home Mr. President.