Back in 2009 at the launching of the Q-Cell head office on Kairaba, sitting in the audience I can still clearly recall getting angry and barely being able to contain that anger when I heard Yaya say something along these line;
“When I say that the sky is the limit for the Gambians, I mean it. I must add that if you get to within a few meters of the sky, wait for me to get there first since I am your president.”
“This is a beautiful building; I challenge Muhammed Jah to build a similar one in Medina (Niumi). Come to Kanilai next year, there will be an even taller building.” These statements of course are paraphrased, meaning the words did not flow in that exact sequence but the meaning has not been lost even after all these years.
I was not at the launch of Q-City but I bet similar sentiments were not expressed in that the president did not see himself as being in competition with industrious citizens whose entrepreneurial skills have paid off.
Why am I making this frame of reference? Having seen very recent pictures and videos on social media presenting Banjul and the sorry state it is in; another aspect of Yaya’s vengeful nature is exposed yet again. Yaya is typifies the classic egomaniac, but more than that he has been consumed by hate and jealousy for most if not all of his life. Here was a man whose ultimate goal for seizing power was to unleash misery and suffering on innocent people because he blamed society at large for his humble beginnings and the misfortunes that such a life wrought. Remember his attitude towards former officials of the PPP government; the continuous reference to their “flamboyant lifestyle” and how they beat their chest accompanied by “do you know who I am” scenarios he referenced? That was the hate in him speaking and henceforth his mission was; I go show them peppeh! Sadly, “them” became every Gambian he viewed as a threat to his primitive mode of consumption. “When they were practicing their dirimo-cracy you benefitted and now you want to challenge ME?” That right there embodies Yaya’s whole outlook on opposition and dissent. To the Banjulians he said “now it is time for you to taste what the rest of us have been enduring our entire lives.”
This attitude also, in part explains the neglect of Banjul. You see, Yaya may be primitive, but he is shrewd. Yaya knew very well that Banjul, or at least Banjulians benefitted the most under Sir Dawda; remember he was close to that seat of power and was very abreast with the comings and goings within the corridors of power. He will sweet talk the capital into aligning with him but in his mind he was plotting to take everything away from them, unless some direct benefit was in it for him. We dare even go a little further and claim that the roads he built were partly a political bait but partly because he needed to travel on them. That may be a stretch but by now we have wizened up to know that we should never put anything past him as being incapable of. Look at the Arch, a monument he dedicated to himself and only he drove under it for the longest time.
An egotist like Yaya likes to bask in his own perceived grandeur; just take a closer look at his lifestyle and choices of material objects. I bet he drives on those roads, have those street lights shone on him and thinks to himself, “wow I definitely made it.” Those items all served as reminders to him, who he was before July 22, 1994 and who he became. “Dekka bi maako morm” sums it all up for us. When he inaugurated those street lights he claimed them to be his and categorically stated that any driver who accidentally veers into one of them will pay for it. Even his investments in Kanilai were just for him, he enjoyed having people grovel at this feet and having the power to either give them or turn them away. Yaya’s whole attitude was to thump his chest and say “I am the guy.” And since no one else can claim such or be seen to be of similar status as him, his colleague council members had to be eliminated, humiliated, or rendered irrelevant, all hail Yaya the mighty Babilimansa!
So those claiming that “this is how Yaya started and became a dictator”; in reference to President Barrow, take a closer look and you will see that from the get go, Yaya was never well meaning or well intent. Yaya was a vengeful egomaniacal tyrant. Ask those who knew him from childhood and through his adult life and you’ll see a man full of himself. Even in the Gendarmerie, his mates will tell you he took pleasure in “punishing” arrestees which included beatings; the man likes to exert authority and likes being on top.
Seeing folks trying to paint a saintly picture of benevolence go to show how misunderstood Yaya the man was, he is a case study for psychologists. Or are such attempts at drawing similitudes with President Barrow out of insincerity and selfishness? I am not saying President Barrow is perfect, incorruptible or beyond reproach, but going so far as saying there is no difference between him and Yaya is a manifestation of ignorance as to who Yaya really was, or that one does know who Yaya was but out of some personal motive tries to make comparisons where none exists.
With an independent city council about to emerge, the Mayoress will have all of the tax money collected in Banjul used to give a face lift to the city and hopefully with a generous augmentation from the central government.
This was just a simple reminder, a dedication lest we forget! We will NEVER forget.