Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: If you are given authority in near-anarchy, tell me, what would be your highest priority? Hungry, ambitious political allies are demons. J.D Brown has told us in his Daughter of Eve series that the rules for demon engagement – and slaying- are simple, and they are just three:
Never tempt a demon with a promise you cannot keep.
Never trust a demon.
Never save a demon’s life.
That hungry tiger you saved will come back to haunt you one day. Julius Caesar, a Roman dictator, General, and Statesman, did that to another Roman General, Pompeius Magnus, known as Pompey. It is funny that the dogs are out so soon to give life to the eerie omens of the immediate past. What obsesses them is that which will always dominate their thoughts and talks. The President flanks and slams his massive iron door against his old Diaspora hustlers and old political allies, forgetting that the one who slaps his mistress is immediately after a sizzling bedroom act would soon have another erection. Some weeks ago, the National People’s Party (NPP) of Adama Barrow and Fabakary Tombong Jatta’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) formed an unusual armored combo called “Political Alliance.” That should shift power and collective decision-making governance.
Fatoumatta: The curtain finally fell on its dominance. Welcome to the Gambia, a nation that once was a hot seller right now of political thrillers became the theme of political theatrics and political dramas. We have always known that lessons not learned at home would be forced in from outside, someday. Today is here so soon for the Diaspora Smart Alecs hustlers and strugglers after the lovey-dovey romance of the 2016 Presidential elections. Did President Adama Barrow miss them? That 2016 “Gambian Have Decided” victorious, the Pro-democracy army brigades of the elite do not take prisoners. They pulverize all who will not crack friends and foes. Adama and Tombong would profit from their Political marriage. In this cavernous friendship, their nose would be bloodied. You do not deal with possessed people like these without a Plan B. Adama’, and Tombong and their wise men were told this before the presidential elections. However, they were too power seeking to listen to each other. Fortunately, it does appear there was an alternative plan beyond making their bent backs available for a ride to sweet political power unbeknown to the mafia.
President Adama Barrow’s first term is all about winning a second term. Thus, he shoved his estranged Godfather in and out of bed and then back to bed to get satiated and married to a newly divorced woman but one who is fertile and can produce children. The deed is done, the second term is guaranteed here, and it is about winning the Gambia forever for himself and his’ people.’ The imperial President will not share his loot with anyone. So, last week, he left Banjul to tour the length and breadth of the Gambia on a constitutional required “political tour” with the state’s key in his breast pocket. He did not transmit any letter to the National Assembly because he is the sovereign leader and can rule Gambians anywhere. There will be fights, rough and tough in this political season, particularly on December 4 presidential polls. Friends and foes embark on a political war. They will drag stupid Gambians into their coming pig fight, and we will all be sorry for ourselves. We will not know that the struggles we will see around us would be for the politician to possess and pillage the land, not nourish it.
However, The Gambia’s Godfatherism political dynamics are reminiscent of Caesar’s Rome. It was so with former friends Caesar and Pompey. Cassius Dio paints the picture so elegantly in his ‘Roman History’: “Because of the insatiable lust for power” by these former allies, “Rome was being compelled to fight both in her own defense and against herself, so that even if victorious, she would be vanquished.” Furthermore, at the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, Caesar saw the end of Pompey, his former ally. He won and got the whole of Rome as his prize. However, did that translate to victory for Rome and its people? On the contrary, the war ultimately set the stage for a series of events cascading imperial Rome from republicanism to dictatorship, to further turmoil, and, finally, to decline and decay.
Fatoumatta: It is funny that some political animals are out so soon to give life to the eerie omens of the immediate past. What obsesses them will always dominate their thoughts and talks. Kidnappers and bandits may continue to rule and ruin villages and cities, and the power elite will not stop dreaming significant about Statehouse and tomorrow and its spoils. They are already talking about the next elections even before this year is concluded. The godson flank is slamming its massive iron door against its Godfather and his allies, forgetting that the one who slaps his mistress immediately after a sizzling bedroom act would soon have another erection.
Fast forward, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49BC and entered Roman Italy, he discovered that his ex-ally and now arch-rival, Pompey, had tactically moved to Greece. Caesar did not wait for the rival; he went for him and his men. What Caesar had for Pompey and his legions stationed in Spain was pure scorn. He derisively announced that he was “going to Spain to fight an army without a General, and then to the East to fight a General without an army.” His impression of Pompey was that of a General with “no idea of how to win a war.”
They both used to be allies. Between them, they levied wars against the senate, bought votes into consulship, set the rabble against nobles, even respected Cicero got exiled for opposing their alliance. They were united by the unstated desire to take Rome out of its prized Republican politics. Their ambition was to be the unchallenged Masters of the State. Fatoumatta: In Gambia, the best technocrats and politicians have held sensitive high offices in the Gambia. But, unfortunately, most of them left the government frustrated and unable to make a remarkable difference. The Gambia is not waiting for any individual to lead it to the promised land. No matter who you are or have achieved, people more accomplished or cerebral have tried their luck in fixing the Gambia, and the track records are there for you to judge.
There is also no short supply of a competent workforce in the Gambia, as some tend to assume. This system is deliberately left this way because it serves the interests of the politically advantaged who come to every election cycle. In 2021, most of today’s critics may find themselves in power, and I guarantee that they will not remember the ideals they once marketed aggressively. The flawed system pays, and you have to be there to understand.
We know many well-intentioned folks who had dreamt of utopian reforms if given a chance. However, most of them are in power now, over areas helmed or compromised, and more actively flipping through their various bank apps to pay for fancy cars and houses in Brusubi and Kerr Sering areas; you may think you are different, but do not be too confident until you get there.
The power to make the Gambia work depends on the unity of its citizens and that the politicians and tribal overlords undermine through their polarizing speeches and actions. Suppose we are not united in defense of our common good. Then, what is the essence of this colonial startup aside from serving as a poverty-alleviating project of short-sighted elites?
While we were torn apart by the tribal bigotry for fighting political opportunism and the consequences are being paid across the country now.
Fatoumatta: However, the Gambia will not implode. This chaos is not beyond the control of the state. The pockets of elite hegemony, hate groups, and tribalists across the country imply that progressive reforms are nowhere in sight. Every group feels marginalized, so the unity desired to assert the people’s power dies every second as local champions emerge to keep the divisions alive. So much that tragedies do not attract expected outrage. With collective decision-making and governed together in 2021 and beyond.
Alagi Yorro Jallow