No Retreat, No Surrender
By Baba Galleh Jallow
We the people of The Gambia are determined not to allow Yahya Jammeh to strangle our beautiful new Gambian renaissance. For 22 years, Yahya Jammeh has treated The Gambia as if it was his personal property and Gambians as if they were nothing but his personal slaves with no right to disagree with anything he said or did. For 22 years he inflicted untold suffering on innumerable numbers of families and communities, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers and innocent children. We have even seen a six-week-old baby locked up in jail under Yahya Jammeh’s heartless tyranny. He has brutally devastated Gambian families and caused untold misery to innumerable numbers of Gambians by killing their loved ones and often sole breadwinners, or throwing them into jail without any charges or through blatantly trumped up charges and kangaroo courts presided over by foreign mercenary judges who are only after their own selfish interests. He has turned spineless sections of the Gambian population into unconscionable spies, liars and brutal torturers of their fellow Gambian citizens. Those days are over. We are taking back our country and if Jammeh does not like it, he can have a taste of his own medicine: he can go to hell where he rightfully belongs. We are calling Yahya Jammeh’s bluff and we must continue calling his bluff with all our might.
In his pathetic delusion, Yahya Jammeh thinks that he can continue lording it over Gambians against their will. A couple of days ago, he had the audacity to summon a crowd of religious leaders to State House because, he said to them, “the people listen to you.” Well, if Yahya Jammeh will not listen to the people, how comes he expects the people to listen to him or any religious leader? He absolutely has no right to tell anyone to listen to anyone else. And if any religious leaders were foolhardy enough to try telling Gambians to listen to Yahya Jammeh, they will be asked to go to hell. In his meeting with the religious leader, Yahya Jammeh declared that he wanted peace and unity and forgiveness in The Gambia. No, he does not. The peace, unity and forgiveness he speaks of is of the hostile, divisive and vindictive kind he has inflicted upon us for the past 22 years and we totally reject it out of hand. Let Yahya Jammeh not preach to us about peace and unity because he is the one who has threatened the peace and unity of the Gambian people for the past 22 years. Let Yahya Jammeh not preach to us about the evils of tribalism because he is the one who has been callously trying to fan the flames of tribal discord in The Gambia. The Coalition which the Gambian people supported was not formed on the basis of tribalism and both its leadership and its supporters see themselves as Gambians, not members of individual tribes of the sort infesting Jammeh’s sick mind. On December 1st the Gambian people totally rejected Yahya Jammeh’s tribal bigotry; so he should shove his hypocritical rant about peace, unity, forgiveness and tribalism up where it belongs.
Since his arrogant and insulting rejection of the Word of God and the will of a significant majority of the Gambian people, Gambians have asserted their power by telling him in no uncertain terms that he cannot and will not be allowed to hold us and our country hostage beyond January 18, 2017. The pressure must be kept up and increased in the days ahead. We must shout louder and insist more strongly and stubbornly that Gambia belongs to all Gambians, not just to Yahya Jammeh and we are not Yahya Jammeh’s powerless and voiceless slaves to be treated with total disrespect and oppressed with total impunity. We must insist that power belongs to we the people and that any Gambian government must henceforth be a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We must continue to uncompromisingly insist that Yahya Jammeh step downs and allows the new Gambian renaissance to blossom into the kind of peaceful, democratic and loving society we want for our country. We must refuse to allow Yahya Jammeh to deprive us of our God-given rights as natural and sovereign citizens of The Gambia. We must show Yahya Jammeh that true power belongs to we the people and that we the Gambian people are the true custodians of national sovereignty in The Gambia. We must show Yahya Jammeh that there will be no retreat and no surrender to his hideous design to deprive us of our well-earned, well-deserved and long overdue reprieve from his brutal dictatorship and his mindless regime of brutal oppression.
As of today, December 17 2016, a large number of Gambian groups and organizations have issued statements condemning Yahya Jammeh’s obnoxious plan to continue enslaving us and our country. Among the many Gambian groups and organizations on the ground that have boldly come forward and told Yahya Jammeh to his face that enough is enough are the Pact of Influential Lecturers at the University of The Gambia, the Gambia Labor Congress, the Gambia Bar Association, the Gambia Teacher’s Union, the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Gambia Medical and Dental Association, the National Association of Gambia Nurses and Midwives, the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association, the University of The Gambia Student body, the Gambia Press Union, the Sarahule Youth Development Organization, and the Gambia National Youth Parliament. As a peace-loving, truth-loving and justice-loving community of deeply religious people, hundreds of thousands of Gambians, no doubt including some who voted for Jammeh on December 1st are adamant that he must do what is right and step down. And he must step down. There should be no retreat, no surrender.
Gambians know that we have the full support of all honest and well-meaning members of the international community. The Senegalese government and people are unequivocal in their position that Jammeh must go. ECOWAS just officially took a position that Jammeh must go, following their meeting in Abuja today, Saturday, December 17, 2016. According to some reliable sources, if Jammeh insists on staying, ECOWAS will send a military intervention force led by Senegal to make sure that he goes. The same sources suggest that all ECOWAS heads of state have agreed to attend Barrow’s inauguration on Thursday, January 19 in a show of solidarity with the Gambian people. The United Nations also insists that Jammeh must go and has already fired a warning shot by cancelling General Ousman Badjie’s visa to visit Gambian peace keeping troops in Darfur, Sudan. The United States and all Western European countries are behind us. Even the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference has issued a statement asking Yahya Jammeh to respect the will of the Gambian people. If Yahya Jammeh does not heed all these voices of the international community, we must force him to hear our voices through the sheer force of our words and actions.
In order to show Yahya Jammeh that power truly belongs to we, the people, all Gambian organizations that have issued statements asking Yahya Jammeh to step down must follow their statements with practical action. Those that have threatened to stay away from work must make sure their threats are credible by following through with them. It is time to show Jammeh in no uncertain terms that there can be no government without the people, that the government is a servant of the people, that it is we the people who pay the salaries of the president, the military and all Gambia government officers. Flexing our muscles through nonviolent civil disobedience will ultimately make Gambia ungovernable and perhaps make ECOWAS military intervention unnecessary.
We can start by actively responding to the Gambia Diaspora Consultative Council’s call for all Gambians to observe a stay at home day this Tuesday, December 20. Let us #ShutItDown and #ShutJammehDown once and for all. There should be #NoRetreatNoSurrender.
Author’s Note: Please share as widely as possible. We must protect and nurture this beautiful renaissance in little Gambia. #JammehMustGo!