Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: There exist three kinds of politicians: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what is happening. Of course, our current crop of “tangal cheeb politicians” might not like this constant reminder. Gambian politics have fallen into a dog-eat-dog cycle where we are either biting or being bitten. Usually, a political smear campaign involves intentional, premeditated efforts to undermine an individual or a group’s reputation and credibility. Still, it does not take away the fact that the current game plan of politics of character assassination and reputational politics, blackmailing, deception and populism, politics of telling the big lie, personal branding, and PR stunt blackmailing in public space and the public sphere has gone up in smoke. The purpose of such campaigns is to discourage or weaken the support base of the target. But, unfortunately, most humans are far needier. As confident as many of us are in our views, many need people to scratch us behind the ears and affirm our opinions. If we only stop there.
Fatoumatta: Too often, we try to dominate dissenting perspectives by bearing our teeth and growling. After decades of abuse from political leaders, our reaction is not too different from that of terribly frightening dogs. In Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece “Things Fall Apart,” Ogbuefi Indigo offers this view of the palm-wine tapper Obiako who suddenly gives up his (lucrative) trade:
“There must be something behind it…. there must be a reason for it. A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing”. (p20). Such is the case with the recent politics of smear campaign, personal branding, PR stunt, media interviews, and utterances (warning shots across the bow of.
The fight has already started, we are told. Today politicians are allegedly blasting each other for smear campaigns, blackmailing character assassination, and telling the BIG lies. Some of them are pretty quiet as saying, “Some people when you pinch them like this (touching their arm), they will run to another party. When the going was tough, I stayed on… but you accept them into your house and give them your Guest Room. Next, they take the Master’s Bedroom; next, they drive you out of your house. We must not allow this.”
It is possible that these “tangal cheeb politicians” said no such thing. It is possible that fake news disseminators made it all up. However, ask yourself if the quote mentioned above does not accurately describe the serial carpet crossers, our so-called leaders?
Fortunately, Gambians are getting increasingly sophisticated. No politician can hoodwink them any longer and think that they have succeeded. As I noted earlier on social media today, emissaries sent to various parts of the country to drum up support for President Adama Barrow’s reelection on December 4. Presidential polls. However, politicians and political hacks are busy forming alliances, masterminding defection, and creating coalitions from other periphery political parties. They returned to base with positive and negative reports, mainly from the breakaway faction of the APRC, GDC, and UDP Parties! Gambians are not buying second-hand cars from these deceitful salesmen!
Fatoumatta: Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) Deputy Party LeaderMr. Ousman Rambo Jatto Jatta has been embroiled in disorder by one of his colleagues. An influential party operative of the same party (APRC), Alagie Sanyang, alleged that Mr. Ousman Rambia Jatta had bribed him with a colossal sum of money to help him destroy someone’s reputation with a full-scale character assassination of a political opponent for political expediency. Mr. Jatta dismissed the allegation as “utter rubbish” and has since filed a complaint with the police.
Fatoumatta: This is no allegory or satire about the outsourcing of our survival, the Gambia as a nation to strange politicians who speak with a million tongues. A case of politicians speaking out from both sides of the mouth and judicial doublespeak. There is no need to talk about that one. We have been told to surrender and expect more challenging times moving forward. Life will teach the laid-back how to live it. This is rather about us thinking that because the water is calm, there are no crocodiles there. As a people, we see little alarm in being eaten by alien vultures and losing our chickens to familiar hawks. So, we pay handsomely for poison – thinking it is tonic for our weary or lazybones.
Politics is a dirty sport (or should I say game?) It is actually a big fight. That is why you do not put your trust in politicians. They are slimy, ugly, and dirty. They will always betray you. Betrayal, to them, is normal, just as pigs do not consider their ways dirty. You have heard lately from politicians how pigs can fight and throw feces and be happy that they mess up everybody, everywhere. Pigs are never aware of their dirtiness. They are like madmen: the day the mad is mindful of his madness, he is cured.
Fatoumatta: You can never put anything past them. During my time with the Independent newspaper as an editor, I was once confronted with a false publication and document prepared in my name and the Independent newspaper by one dishonest politician desperate to stop his political opponent from getting nominated as their party’s candidate. The false publication printed that the said politician had directed me to convey to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Inspector General of Police that a particular legislator had been indicted in a corruption probe case. As such should be sanctioned accordingly by having the parliamentary committee he was leading dissolved. The document was not only fake; the so-called probe itself was pure fiction. However, of course, the purportedly indicted man knew those who did it and understood why. I did not know and so reported to the Parliamentarian who saw the document and was speechless. The lawmaker was as shocked as I was, not just because politicians (of the same party) could be that lethal in their schemes, but that they could laugh it off and plead for understanding when they landed in the police net. They were old political friends of their prey. They did not want him to get the ticket he was sure of getting.
There was another instance of a popular local government chairmanship election, one particular candidate whose name was used by his opponents (ahead of his victory) to write newspaper articles attacking President Yahya Jammeh. The poor man was not a newspaper reader and so was not aware of the shenanigans. His opponents used the compiled articles to convince the authorities not to swear him in when he won. He waited long before he got sworn into office.
Fatoumatta: Across the country, there have been shocking verbal shelling of friends and allies by elements you would bet were friends and supporters: Political blackmailing and sextortion turn out to be remarkably common. A great many sextortion cases have taken place, each involving an attacker who effectively invades the privacy of large numbers of political victims and media celebrities. So you could be lost when you profile elements showing their faces today as mortal enemies. However, these were the same people who, just last elections and even months in, mounted the rostrum every day, everywhere with songs of unity, hope, and promise of good governance. So, were they just play-acting, or what could have gone wrong so soon?
I have not seen a battle of pigs before, but being “farmer-born, peasant-bred,” I have watched several animals and birds going rough with one another over whatever. Furthermore, each time I see bickering politicians, I remember these beasts. In other words, politics is a jungle fight. It is tough, rough, dirty, deadly. However, when politicians fight, betray one another, and seek to bring down the other person, does it ever occur that such a fight could be mutually fatal to all concerned? Ask the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Reconstruction (APRC), the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Gambia Democratic Party (GDC), and all who elbowed others before and after the last election to remain relevant with the party’s and in President Adama Barrow’s administration. Senior executive members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) served in Barrow’s government are all out of the gates of the Statehouse. Today, their phones are silent. The National People’s Party? Too early to talk about it now.
Fatoumatta: A video clip of a Lion and a buffalo in a deadly fight is viral on the Internet. Suppose you are of men (especially politicians) who worship the lion as the unchallengeable king of the jungle. In that case, you need to watch the video. The setting was a park in South Africa early this year. A UK newspaper reported the fight this way: “Cast out by. His pride, this starving lion, was forced to take on a fully-grown buffalo in his desperate bid to survive. What ensued was a brutal hour-long battle leaving both animals bloodied, exhausted, and with fatal wounds. Dramatic images capture the lion savagely biting and clawing at the buffalo’s mouth, the big cat’s face smeared with blood from where he has been gored by his heavier and larger opponent’s horns.
“After around ten minutes of our arrival, the buffalo managed to shake the lion off itself but instead of trying to escape, just stood there.
“Both animals stared at each other, both too exhausted to move.
“After a few minutes of rest, the lion then went for the buffalo, and another ten-minute battle ensued. Again the buffalo managed to shake itself free. Finally, the lion digs his claws into the buffalo’s face as he attempts to pull the animal downwards to deliver a killer bite.
“The same process continued for about an hour until both animals were utterly spent.
“The rest of the herd, who had come to the water to drink, were watching from a distance while the fight carried on. Then, as it looked like fortune was favoring the exhausted, but the ravenous lion, a member of the buffalo’s herd, came to its aid and delivered a deadly blow.
“The safari guide added: ‘That seemed to give the cow (buffalo) the opportunity it needed to escape and along with the rest of the herd moved off.” After this, the lion managed to drag himself under a bush to lick his wounds. Both animals were covered in blood by the end. Two days later, the lion succumbed to his injuries. At the same time, the buffalo’s carcass was found two weeks later, having failed to fight off infection.”
I wish all lions and buffaloes in our politics could watch that video and be wise. They ought to know that a jungle war between or among gladiators (especially former friends) always leaves both or all parties bloodied. It benefits no one – apart from the spectators and lurking enemies.
Fatoumatta: To be clear, we need emotion and moral quality to our political activities every bit as much as reason and pragmatism. Aristotle correctly described humans as political animals. I will always be a dog person, but these days I would not mind having a few more cool cats in Gambian politics. Then we can break out the laser pointers and have some fun.
Alagi Yorro Jallow