The Folly of “Sosalasso Party Alliance”: A Marriage of Inconvenience: Everything Else in Coalitions is an Architectural Embellishment

Mamos Media

Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: The Gambia is a test-tube family created by the British. Sometimes test-tube babies live; sometimes they do not. Like all extra-natural creations, the Gambia presents genetic disorders, unusual conditions that confound even the genius of its creators. That the country emerged from a forced conception was made clear at the very beginning by those who did the artificial insemination. A poet would deepen his thought by equating artificial conception with forced, girded marriage. That is what I am doing here.
The Gambia is both an artificial being as well as a forced marriage. An alliance is a coalition of two or more groups entering into a pact to benefit each other in a deal of some sort. In all societies, a union is designed to satisfy the parties concerned, no ifs or buts. It is not a catalytic mix, where the catalyst only helps to accelerate the chemical bonding of others.
In a divorce (in Africa), the husband may get the wife out of the home or pack out. In an abusive marriage sustained by taboos of divorce, anything can happen misery, suffering, and even violent death of both or either of the partners. The Gambia is now a mere few weeks away from the December 4, 2021, presidential election, in which there are sure to be far more marriages of an inconvenience than ever before the country’s sobering experiences with party alliances and coalitions in following the 2016 grand coalition that removed Yahya Jammeh’s decades of kleptocratic rule.
Take marriage in bucolic African communities, like in Foni and Niumi, everyone benefits from the union of families. The two lambs, the alliance called matrimony is contracted, benefit from the extended family members. In politics, alliance takes a different dimension. Still, the principles remain the same: the parties involved go into the coalition with set agenda. Hence by definition, an alliance should not inconvenience anyone; every Party benefits from the union, even when it is a marriage of convenience. Since the 2016 grand coalition collapse and unexpected divorce, husbands, and wives separated and living together were their usual fighting elements.
According to English author Jeffrey Archer, extreme conduct is ingrained in the veins. There is honor even among thieves! Adama Barrow did emerge as a flag bearer in 2016 because he did not have the overwhelming support of his party leadership. Instead, he used his political adroitness to survive their scheming against him. You cannot catch an old fox with chaff. Discomfited and shell-shocked by the emergence of Adama Barrow, his political adversaries deployed other dirty tricks against him to ensure he was ousted at all costs because he was never chosen and preferred of his estranged Godfather.
Fatoumatta: You cannot label all the 2016 grand coalition members’ architects as corrupt and crooks without indicting yourself. However, in the first place, why should you allow a thief to throw his resources and goodwill into your success and then turn around to taunt him as corrupt? As long as politics involves compromises to attain victory, In our kind of politics, you cannot engage in hollow moral grandstanding without ridiculing yourself, especially when the memory of the 2016 grand coalition is so recent to be forgotten so soon. These two. They enjoy dominating others and detest being dominated.
It is a queer union of husband and wife; however, has talked tough on social media and mass media ever solved any problem in a troubled marriage? Whoever wants to mend the Gambia should visit any customary or Cadi courts in Kanifing where divorce suits are heard. You will see how helpless a court could be when both husband and wife claim rights, throw dirt, and trade insults: She is troublesome; promiscuous, no man can satisfy her. He is a bully, a shameless adulterer. You cannot help that marriage. The union is doomed.
Fatoumatta: You cannot force the impotent to have an erection. The Gambia as a being is invalid. As a marriage, it is progressively moving from failing to failing. Marriages that endure are those with mutually trusting and respecting partners. A partnership of an emperor and a cowering slave is a contraption doomed to pack up. The way to save the Gambia is to go back to the agreed terms of its beginning. The founding fathers did not agree to have a country of masters and slaves or landlords and tenants. It was decided to be a country of equals. That was why at independence, “Let justice guide our actions,towards the common good,and join our diverse people’s to prove man’s brotherhood” was a golden stanza in our national anthem—enjoying it only when each of them is at the top. In a relationship like theirs, tension and tears must be constant bedmates.
Fatoumatta: When a woman makes it a habit to scare her husband with regular threats of divorce, the capable husband should respond by assisting her in packing out. Using their youths as the counterforce to the indulgent youths are tired of sleeping with — male, female, young and old. Wives who threaten divorce too often are noisy, irritating. Therefore, they should pack and go back to their fathers’ homes within three months. That response sounded very familiar. Deja vu is forever in the texture of the Gambia’s political history. Pack-and-go is a cyclone faithfully keeping its tryst with the nation in the interest of the “overall progress of the Gambia.
Fatoumatta: What became of the proposals to sign the coalition or alliance agreement? What are the legal and “ideological” texts for alliance or coalition-building in The Gambia? Sadly, the ideals, as I understood them, have been severely compromised by near-zero party discipline within the rank and file, absence of functional party organ engagement for years on end, lack of ideological stand on key national issues of the day, personality cults, and public quarrels on mundane matters that could easily be solved internally. It is my humble estimation that the situation is irredeemable.
It is time to accept reality, reset the journey, and restart the quest for ideology-based political discourse in the days ahead. However, what has surprised all is the scope, extent, and speed of the disintegration. Those angling to enter into party alliances or building a coalition with a political party will most certainly inherit the Party Leader alone, but not a single member.
Fatoumatta: Suppose you are a newcomer to Gambian politics. In that case, you should be forgiven for thinking politicians are sworn enemies (and I mean the “core political opportunist and those hiding behind ethnic-chauvinism” by that, and from now on). Since the 1996 presidential electioneering, there has been no love lost between prominent Sosalasso power blocs politicians and erstwhile political allies. Agitations for Khakistocracy, which were dormant under Yahya Jammeh, have been magnificently revived. The Green youth movement and Defense of the Revolution were formed and morphed into the July 22 Youth Movement unprecedentedly developed. Although there are efforts to douse the tension, the rhetoric has only softened. The damage has been done. Politicians were partners for decades, right from the 1960s, so I am sitting here today asking myself: what went wrong? Many will trace the turning point to the 1996 presidential elections when political leaders and their parties with their allies were banned in what was termed — rightly or wrongly — an “electoral coup.”
Nevertheless, first, there was an extended electoral coup by the obnoxious Decree no. 89. The end product of the Decree had barred all the previously existing political parties, i.e., PPP, NCP, and GPP. Decree 89, however, exempted the PDOIS and the PDP from the ban. The Decree also, we will recall, barred all former government members between 1965 and 1994 from engaging in any political activities that appeared to have only briefly separated — their political romance resumed informing the mighty United Democratic Party (UDP). Things went awry, though, in the 1996 presidential electioneering, probably not helped by the opposition, Yahya Jammeh and his APRC winning 56 percent the votes of Freudian slip.
However, shifting alliances and coalitions are part of our politics. An excursion into our history will offer some illumination — and, if you will, a bit of consolation — that Gambian politicians are not mortal enemies and reconciliation should not be ruled out. If anything, the elitist hegemony and ethnic chauvinistic politicians have never managed to befriend each other politically. It is somewhat ironic that they are today locked in a political embrace after what appeared to be an eternal enmity. At the same time, elites are the outsiders, as it were. The fundamental truth is that there are no permanent friends or permanent foes in politics: it is all about interests.
Fatoumatta: Fast forward. When the 2016 grand coalition was formally formed, the alliance was not based on a morality contest. On the contrary, the coalition partners were readily and enthusiastically welcomed by the Gambian electorates; even though many of a few of those leaders’ integrity and moral rectitude have been questioned Yet, they suddenly became moral heroes for joining a gang up against the wishes of their own Party.
Therefore, when you ally with the devil or a thief with your eyes wide open to achieve the cause, you lack the moral standing to insult the so-called thief. Expediency and principles cannot coexist. A deeply principled politician would prefer to lose an election than consort with crooks for the sake of power.
What then? I have gone into this historical voyage for two reasons. First, I have noticed that many younger generation members are taking 2016 as the starting point of Gambian history, and I consider this very dangerous. Our history is filled with shifting alliances: those who play in the mainstream today could be on the margin tomorrow. The politicians aligned with the other leaders until Adama Barrow’s putrid blood ascendancy to power in 2016. Before then, both blocs could get along quite well, but others do. As things heat up today, it may be helpful to remember where paths crossed in the past. Burning the bridges should not be fanciful.
Two, Gambian needs all the stability it can buy so that development issues can take center stage. While other African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda are confronting their demons and making steady progress, some Gambians are massively obsessed with ethnic warfare as if that is what will construct the roads, equip the hospitals, reform the schools, and put food on the tables of the helpless hundreds of thousands of people. I insist that political differences are inevitable in a country with diverse ethnic groups with fiercely competing interests amid scarcity. Differences can be better managed, and no part of a political party must be deliberately isolated from power.
Fatoumatta: I am aware that many separatists believe that the Gambia cannot progress until broken up. Maybe this is true, but in the absence of compelling evidence, I am forced to stick to my suggestion that we try out development-obsessed leadership — and then see how far it can take the country. Political alliances will form and dissolve; coalitions will appear and disappear. Our political history is filled with shifts in flings and marriages. That is the nature of our politics. We should never allow that to get in the way of development, justice, and equity. Let the professional politicians politick, but the leaders must center their heart on the Gambia’s progress. Focus

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