Letter to Yahya Jammeh, No. 2
This regards your temper tantrums and related matters. Anytime you open your mouth, you are railing and ranting against someone. You’ve been angry at the Jolas and the Mandinkas. You’ve been angry at The Gambian men and youths. You’ve been angry at the civil service and the military. You’ve been angry at the journalists and the opposition. You’ve been angry at the religious figures and businesspeople. You’ve been angry at your own ministers and supporters. You’ve been angry at Senegal, the United States and the European Union. You’re, in short, a breathing Icelandic volcano, whose vindictive animosity toward all and sundry reverberates with self-righteous piety.
Who you lash out at on any given day depends on the state of your vituperative mood. We don’t even have to ask anymore why you are throwing one of your never-ending hissy fits or who are the targets at any particular moment. Your temperamental outburst is a madness with a method to it. You’re displeased with the Jolas for not comporting themselves to your satisfaction, and you consider the Mandinkas tribalist out to get you. You berate the men and youths of the nation as lazy and irresponsible. You go after the civil servants and the military whenever you suspect them of slacking in their fulsome loyalty to you. You spit venom at the journalists and the opposition as unpatriotic. You blast the religious leaders for disobeying your commandments and lambaste the businesspeople, especially the money changers, every so often the hard times get harder. You dress down your ministers and supporters just for the heck of it. You excoriate Senegal for providing sanctuary to your enemies, and denounce foreign diplomats for criticizing your gross human rights violations.
I almost forgot about the women. You promised to relieve them of the deadbeats they are married to, and find for them proper and responsible husbands. Since you’ve disqualified Gambian men as suitable for marital duties, have you placed your order of chivalrous men from other countries yet? When the shipment of these uxorious men arrived, I suggest you start the matching making by hooking up Zeinab first. Her husband is the most horrible and terrible man in the entire country. You must know that he is corrupt, contemptible, delusional, maniacal, abusive, and always angry. Her man needs serious help, and it will be an immense favor for her to get her a new man who has what it takes to be a gentleman. And while we’re on the subject of women, it was very cringing watching you on television compare urban and rural women. Especially when you demanded urban women to stand next to rural women to show that you’ve eliminated all distinctions of beauty and class between the two groups. That was one really, stupefying spectacle. Somewhere, Idi Amin must be blushing that you’ve outdone him once again in sheer idiocy.
My favorite day of the week is when you give the West a piece of your mind. It’s hilarious to hear you raise the scepter of history to declaim against colonialism and imperialism for all the problems of Africa. And your hobbyhorse for blame, the British, always come in for a special rebuke. You call them every name in the book for colonizing and exploiting The Gambia for “four hundred years.” Though your high school comprehension of history needs real burnishing, that’s beside the point at the moment. Despots like you all over Africa have taken from us the moral high ground. Your brutish and bizarre conducts undercut our legitimate charges against the colonial and neocolonial world order. And your raging against the West in general and Britain in particular about the problems in the country is nothing but an exercise in projection.
As a lifelong Pan-African, I’m no apologist for the West or one to pine for the imperial past. But when it comes to The Gambia, put down that history flag, please. You’re worse than the British had been. You haven’t repealed one single repressive law the British had handed down. On the contrary, you’ve doubled down by increasing the fines and prison terms of those odious laws. Should I mention that you’ve also enacted so many draconian laws that the British even call you out for being excessively oppressive? The British built the Mile Two Prison, and, instead of you demolishing it as a colonial institution, you love it so much that you’ve taken to calling it your five-star hotel for Gambians you don’t like. Let’s compare the “four hundred years” of British rule and your twenty years in power. You’ve arrested more Gambians that the British ever had. You’ve imprisoned more Gambians than the British had. You’ve tortured more Gambians than the British had. You’ve been responsible for the death of more Gambians than the British had been.
You can break our eardrums with your griping protestations about the British (and the West at large) as our mortal enemy, but the facts testify against you. David Cameron isn’t raiding our treasury for his personal use, you are. The British Parliament isn’t passing laws to restrict our freedoms and the rights, your National Assembly is. The Metropolitan Police isn’t arresting us on frivolous and spurious allegations, your Gambia Police Force is. The British Security Service (MI5) isn’t abducting and torturing us, your National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is. And for all your foaming and frothing at the mouth against the British, we’re fleeing the hardship of your despotism every God’s day for Elizabeth’s land.
How ironic it all turns out. We fought for our independence for Queen Liz to leave us alone. Now, we can’t run fast enough away from you into her arms. So do us a favor, will you? Next time you need to blow off some steam at someone, find a mirror. That malcontent and malevolent face that stares back at you is the one to be blamed for all your anger issues.