Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Fatoumatta: “Ah, you know, the chichi dodo is a bird. The chichi dodo hates excrement with all its soul. But the chichi dodo only feeds on maggots, and you know the maggots grow best inside the lavatory. So this is the chichi dodo.” — Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” (1968).
Chichidodo is a bird found in some parts of Ghana; the unique thing is that it hates human excrement with all its soul, but Chichidodo only feeds on maggots. The bird loves so much grows best in human feces. The bird spends most of the time next to human excrement, making faces and flapping its feathers due to the foul smell and getting the maggots from the identical waste. Ayi Kwei Armah Ghanaian, an author of the book “The Beautiful One Are Not Yet Born,” has used the behavior of this bird to draw a comparison with an upright man working for a corrupt government.
Nobel Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka sometimes makes a caricature of his critics by comparing them with the chichi dodo bird. This mythical bird hates shit yet only eats worms. He once depicted a critic as a “human incarnation of the bird chichidodo.” In the words of Professor Soyinka today, President Adama Barrow qualifies as “a modern human incarnation of the bird chichidodo.”
Fatoumatta: Chichidodo can be anyone who hates a vice with a passion, but the person gains directly or indirectly from the same sin. Corruption in the Gambia has been tolerated since the first republic as the human excrement and the maggots that grow in it as the proceeds from corruption. The real Chichi dodo in the case of corruption is the people who claim to hate corruption but will not fight it and make bribery easier. However, they would benefit from it and would not want it eliminated. President Adama Barrow, through the Janneh Commission of Inquiry that probe into the financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh, claimed to be purging the corruption, laxity, and arrogance that came with long tenure and restoring the opportunity for government service at citizenry at large through eradicating the cankerworm of corruption in the public sector. However, his haste and gullibility did much to confuse his purpose under the guise of reform.
President Barrow is running on a record that is alien to the realm of politics – Sainthood – and his government is dreaming in Utopia – painting a picture of an infallible man. This approach qualifies as the most significant political scam in modern times. Indeed, a tragic miscalculation by the government of President Barrow, even as every Gambian is now trying to portray Adama Barrow that is friendly with corruption. You cannot give what you do not have. For all we know, only GOD is infallible, and no politician that is worth it will trust their campaign on saintliness.
President Barrow is not what he claims to be. A careful study of Adama Barrow’s past and present will sincerely reveal a-chichi dodo-bird-like character – perfectly narrated in the book “The beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born.” The way and manner President Barrow has logically extricated himself from the ills of his government, tolerating corruption without the power of accountability and with impunity, preferring the achievements of infrastructural developments only, is mindboggling. It is the specific trait of Chichidodo. Let us look at other actions to confirm his Chichidodo posture further. He does not understand what corruption is all about or may be pretending. Sainthood is about transparency, honesty, accountability, and fear of God. Adama Barrow has contested the 2016 Presidential elections as a “not rich,not poor and clean man.” Still, he has never disclosed his sources of money, although a middle-class man in the real estate business. Can a poor man contest for National Assembly elections twice, no to talk of a Presidential election?
President Barrow always pretends to be interested in fighting corruption and impunity until prompted by those with a different mission in governance and politics. For example, Adama Barrow paid for all of the election campaign expenditures for his former political party, his baptized political family the United Democratic Party (UDP) candidates with millions of Gambian Dalasis for National Assembly and Local Government elections 2017. In addition, Adama Barrow also financed the coalition partners with brand new vehicles for election campaigns. He funded election campaigns and gave brand new vehicles a gift to all National Assembly members who saved PDOIS members. However, he claimed that the donation of the vehicles amounting to millions of US dollars was from a faceless donor who pays for it.
Does President Barrow understand what corruption is all about?
Can Adama Barrow heed the devil’s call to carry out a task and still claim to be free of demons. But, will this Chichidodo kind of politics last? President Barrow should have the presence of mind and the heart to apologize for his past misdeeds in old age, not fighting corruption and end impunity. However, on the other hand, he is a mere mortal and should be courageous to say no to those fronting him for a mission that is not his. President Barrow’s government appears not interested to probe past and present corrupt officials in the country as he is more focused on his reelection bid to a second term. So his anti-corruption mantra in the 2016 election promises is no longer selling.
Fatoumatta: The Gambia’s corruption is threatening through something unprecedented in the country without anti-corruption mechanisms and the political will to end corruption and impunity. The recent missing millions at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) reported in the national media. Social media reached a record level with confessions and resignations of senior council members. If unpleasant things are written in the media, there is the probability of a good reason for it, but where there is smoke, there is fire.
We wholeheartedly welcome the dissolution of the current Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and the suspension of Mayor Ahmed Bensouda and his executive until a full investigation is conducted by the Local government Minister or by the office of the Auditor-General. However, the Mayor cannot reasonably hold on to his office. At the same time, his weighty allegations of missing millions are forensically uncovered hidden financial frauds. Indeed, not only did the suspension comes too late, but it should also have been one of an outright indictment. I am one of the strident critics of President Barrow for being too tardy in taking crucial decisions on critical matters that affect the nation. This is one such tardy decision, coming too late.
While conceding that Mayor Bensouda did a great job sanitizing and deodorizing the Kanifing Municipal Council, leading to the emergence of a more vital Council, he has not fared well in calm conduct, sober carriage, and the magisterial disposition expected of his office. Instead, he has conducted himself more like a proud, full of oneself, and boastful politician, an unrepentant politician and even of his Council policies, aside from the finances of the Council that he gleefully tears to shreds and tatters.
Therefore, it is my respectful submission that President Barrow does what is right, legally, morally, and constitutionally, to have dissolved the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and remove the Mayor and his entire executive for further investigation into the alleged corruption scandal. However, not to have done so would have been equivalent to creating a sacred cow or a Frankenstein Monster out of a non-conforming public officer with an over-bloated ego and who fights his government with éclat and Joy. What a contradiction! What a paradox.
Can anyone argue that the copious infractions of the Law and the Local Government Act do not constitute serious misconduct? Are we going to allow a tyrannical majority or a vociferous minority that controls the media to becloud our true sense of justice or even humanity?
Fatoumatta: Gambians in the 2016 election season campaigned against public sector corruption. There were public intellectuals who talked passionately against corruption. They wrote articles with brilliant ideas on how corruption can be eradicated and even gave public forums about it. However, former the Attorney General and Minister of Justice tabled the Anti-corruption commission bill being considered in the National Assembly. The story has changed in the way they suggested. It appears the Ant-Corruption law of 2012 enacted into Law by the predecessor government of President Yahya Jammeh is under desuetude. They are pouring cold water to the whole exercise of combating public sector corruption with lame excuses, and any action, for now, the purge will only be described as partisan and politically motivated. These public intellectuals, including the so-called activists, are like the chichi dodo bird. They hate corruption, but they still need it. They hate corruption because they are not befitting.
Some people did brilliant posts exposing corruption in social media, and we all joined in giving our minor contributions. However, today, these same people do not want to hear anything about the purge of corruption. The mere thought that President Barrow can even think of fighting corruption gives them migraines, and they would like him to prosecute his brother and mother if he wants to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, if they were sincere and stopped beating about the bush, they would tell President Adama Barrow to cease the purge.
Fatoumatta: We are unsure whether we have chichi dodo in social media since very few maggots come this way. However, maybe the maggots come in the form of content. Corruption gives them the scope to write juicy posts, which provides them with relevance and keeps the story going on. However, maybe they are all chichi dodo, they eat maggots from the shit, and they would not want to get rid of the maggots’ source of the maggots.
Are we living in a society where people say one thing, but their actions mean differently? Are we all Chichidodo.? Every day, we awaken to the sheer audacity to siphon millions of public funds for personal gain. Every day, we demand justice for these atrocities. Every day, we celebrate these same people who have betrayed the public trust.
Fatoumatta: We must depart from a state of moral ambivalence. Our responsibility is to ensure that the society we live in maintains a high ethical and moral standard. Of course, no one has the right to denigrate the moral fabric of our society. However, first, as a citizen, we owe it as a duty to protect the integrity of our country, as parents, we owe it to our children, to safeguard the moral values we were brought up with, as individuals, we owe it to God and ourselves, to maintain a high moral standard.