For Those Spinning and Twisting the Truth About the Horrors of “July 22 Revolution” A(F)PRC legacy. Reflection on the Nature of the Dictatorship in the Gambia:
Never Again and Never Again
Reflection on the Nature of the Dictatorship in the Gambia:
Never Again and Never Again
Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Fatoumatta: This write-up is for those millennials who were born after July 22, 1994. Those who do not know what government legal and extra-legal repression of public criticism means. Those who did not live “dictatorship” where owning a book, speaking against the state’s ills, or even gossiping about the President in a bar was a sure way to the crime of sedition. The government of the day operated an uneducated intelligence agency in the name of the “National Intelligence Agency (NIA),” which had a fetish for crushed genitalia. On many occasions, the NIA harasses the opposition and independent journalists for supporting opposition politics. Many died in the hands of organized youth-based militia gangs, who had the full support of Yahya’s government. Many were arrested, tortured, and killed. Some went into exile to escape Yahya’s brutality.
Fatoumatta: You knew your generation is the most unfortunate. You belong to a generation born in chaos, weaned in a kakistocracy, and have never really understood the real meaning of peace. Those who arrived here between 1994 and 2016 are appropriate children of kleptomania.
The political crises that immediately ensnared the hopes of the independent Gambia and the hugely destructive twenty-two years of kleptocracy took away what should be years of take-off without turbulence for your generation. Instead, you are a generation of strugglers scavenging for survival in the graveyard of hope. You belong to a generation sacrificed to the gods of economic and political instability.
If your take-off was turbulent, the years that were to signal your cruising level were years when locusts invaded the farm at the point of fruition. During your time, newspapers and radio stations were first closed for months and years either by military decrees or by the notorious National Intelligence Agency ( NIA) extrajudicial. Your generation witnessed nocturnal arson attacks on media houses, killing an independent journalist, and exiling more than 100 journalists worldwide. Journalists work in tears, taught and trained by very hardworking editors and media consultants who were ravaged by systemic repression so much that their experience silently shooed some of them away from their fate in the ivory tower.
Fatoumatta: You left school with sighs, and for many, the turbulence that assailed the aircraft of lives has refused to temper fury with mercy. Your ships of life are still tossed about by the storms of personal discovery and fulfillment well beyond your capacity to tame.
Twenty-something years after that voyage commenced, your ships are still troubled on the high seas of life. However, for some of you, life goes on; some of you live it as it presents itself.
However, if you are a generation of sufferers and sterner strugglers, the ones that followed you are more unfortunate. For them, nothing seems to have worked or be working.
Fatoumatta: You are post-sanity generations of Gambians for whom the country is one expansive, expensive sanatorium. In your world of the deprived, the chief priest feeds fat, feigning treatment for the orphaned inmates. However, just like the village repairer of sanity, the patients are ready hands for unremunerated labor. Here, and for these generations of the afflicted, labor laws, relations and responsibilities are inverted. Here, the laborers pay the owners of the farm you work on.
Furthermore, you do not know, or maybe you do but are powerless to do anything. Alternatively, you are afraid of losing your chains and the crumbs that drop with the clanging of your fetters. Your carers are like prison warders who take prisoners to work on farms of the powerful. That is the present-day Gambia where the lords of the fleas are talking about a nationwide talk, and I ask: national conference of who and what?
Reflection on the dictatorship in the Gambia:
Fatoumatta: Under the trance of fear, a nation hid from the world. Inside its doors, hundreds of non-disabled citizens died in secret. Some were buried in prison sites, and others’ bones were dissolved in acid.
[We] did not speak. [We] hoped it would end soon.
Just like the others who had also seen, we told no one. A hundred, and then a hundred more, herded into holding houses. Picked up — taken from homes, offloaded from saloon cars, hustled from offices, stopped on their way to somewhere else—prosecuted and judged at night. Guilty, they were loaded onto the backs of lorries. Moreover, afterward, lime-sprinkled corpses were heaped in large holes dug into the grounds of appropriated farms. Washed in acid, covered with soil that became even more crimson, upon which new forests were planted.
Fatoumatta: You must never lend support to ANY government that seeks to subjugate sections of society, arbitrarily arrest its citizens, frame people for crimes they have not committed, or kill its ardent critics. If you do, the snake will come back to bite. The guns in Yundum today may be pointed in the direction of Niumi someday. I hope it does not happen in my lifetime. This historical, constant, and alternating vilification of one or another ethnic community, depending on who is in control of state power, will one day explode in ways in which we will be unable to control. President Adama Barrow does not know this pain. He comes from a background of comfort and familiar privilege who never spent a day with the notorious National Intelligence Agency.