By Habib Drammeh
Although the cocktail of discontent is different in every country, but the pattern of political earthquakes across the western world has continued in West Africa and uprooted the repressive regime of Dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Yahya Jammeh and his gang of elves who ruled Gambia with an iron fist of repression and over the years got away with anything found themselves on December 1st in an unexpected dotage. The suddenness with which the regime fell, became evident half way into the night of the elections after prolong paused in releasing the rest of the constituency results. On the surface, the answer was clear that they lost after the pattern — the results were released from previous elections changed.
In the fortnight following the Dec. 1 election, Yahya Jammeh showered the IEC with all kind of laws favorable to his victory. With their vow to win the election no matter what the world thinks about the results, other looming midnight-regulations and executive actions include schemes to seize the internet and shut down power to block the world away from happenings in the Gambia followed. He went as far as printing victory celebrations T-Shirts.
The newly emboldened Gambian people in a rare stand got united to kiss his agenda of 2017 death upon arrival. Sure, our confidence on the IEC was all time low — but maintaining the status quo’ with its own intolerable costs baked into each Gambian’s future — was not an option to live with. The force of that logic in our minds and the heroic fight of all Gambians, couple with the defiance of the IEC chairman to deliver nothing but true verdict, gave us victory non-to history.
Phew! let take a step back and touch a little on the conspiracy theories and events that gave our hopes a severe “Black eye”. I received a message from someone that the old men at IEC, earlier on painted his gate green color and his son either penned an article or released a Face book Video —predicting victory for Yahya Jammeh.
The fall-out from his piece made international headlines around online media and gave our hopes a black eye. In so doing, he eventually later apologized in another lengthy piece I saw on some online newspapers. Many began having mixed feelings but Gambians on the ground very confident of victory. They started making homemade signs “IEC BE FAIR” campaign. Then the state media GRTS TV broadcast the arrival of 400 Mauritanians— who claimed to be Gambians, but where speaking in Cassamance accent and housed around green tents. And celebrities’ especially powerful Nigerian Nollywood actors were all supporting the dictator at tax payers expense. Others began downsizing their optimism and started changing their slogan to “Plan B”. Idealists, myself included, wrote many pieces encouraging people to go vote for change.
However, public reactions became more supportive and victory plausible because all the online radio presenters came together to raise funds for GDF. The intense campaign online radio and social media appealing to voter discontent and projecting strength and leadership in a time of political chaos —including rolling electricity and internet blackouts by the dictator’s enablers, in many ways, give people more hope to carry on the fight. It was Gambian politics gone wild with red carders, and it has proven effective. However, most importantly, a packed, colorful and disjointed slate of candidates from seven parties to form the Coalition, helped in unifying Gambians a great deal. But there was also GDC party— whose leader was very skilled at using his celebrity status to attract voters from APRC regime.
However, they sometimes used outlandish statements occasionally that frustrated many. Metaphorically speaking, they politically married all the APRC single voters with far more compelling political narrative Yahya Jammeh’s political strategist couldn’t share with their disfranchised voters.
Then came the faithful day of December 1st. Gambians waited in lines to cast their ballots. Frustrations ran high as more conspiracy theories and propaganda. However, the young Gambians turnout appeared consistent with heavy in-person crowds reported by elections officials at polling sites and young coalition poll watchers. Social media and WhatsAPP messages were being recorded constantly to encourage Gambians to go vote and debunking regimes propaganda machinations. People were determined and excited enough to vote for change. Euphoria among some voters over IEC itself as an organization, come as no surprise but people’s last silver lining of hope rested in the hands of IEC chairman.
In fact, many Gambians who knew him undoubtedly feel the same sensation of an honest man who will call the elections results truthfully. More interestingly, though, the IEC chairman delivered in the face of severe inter-mediation from dictator Yahya Jammeh. Boom shakala! Gambians gave the dictator the shellacking he needed to fall from power to disgrace.
Metaphorically speaking, the unattractive tag team of Gambia’s repression is now breathing their last gasps of fresh smiling coast air before they get shoveled out the doors of Gambia. As we patiently wait for the transition period to end for the regime to pack off Gambia, but the current political landscape sure feels like déjà vu again because Yahya Jammeh is still in charge.
More importantly, they turned to Social media – making fake profiles to create so much confusion of coalition position, trying to worsen polarization they started in the country and attacking groups of people to divide Gambians, which is odd because Yahya Jammeh and his regime unanimously accepted defeat. It is now an undeniable fact that they created a fake profile of President elect and another fake profile to stir tribalism sentiments. It’s just baffling that people whom have such an uneven record of throwing empty expressions and a knack for disastrous decision-making could, ascend to such political heights today and be regarded so highly at a national stage as the good guys. But, they are busy foot chasing every statement on social media with their snap shot camera, ready to cut and paste “anything” to make a point about tribalism, Instead of working together on ideas to build our country.
Worst still, his men continue indulging political brinkmanship in dangerous ways, instead of focusing to how they can best address society’s myriad problems their regime created. The fall of the dictator created a shocking resonance that immediately cuts of every scheme, poured cold water over large lumps of coal fire they ignite and put an end to all their shady business deals. The regime’s last holdouts die-hard miscreants have been blowing things out of proportions and throwing avalanche of tribalism statements on social media to distract people. The same pictures from fake profiles have been circulating around the web. Unfortunately, it’s working to distract Gambians. Conversely, what’s also worst is the people unknowingly helping these people spread their messages.
Chances are, Gambians should get used to encountering so many wired false accusations on social media on daily basis. It is sad that Cheerleaders for Dictator Jammeh’s imperial presidency are still seeking ways of preserving their own dictatorship ideological bubble. Yet in reality, their colleagues whom the dictator illegally detained are being released by the winds change effect. Conversely, what’s the worst thing they could do again apart from what they are known for twenty two years? The problem we have is —dictatorship ideology has locked many Gambians mind into a gated community. No one wants to think outside the box and we easily fall for any trap. The footprints are typical of Jammeh loyalist. Twenty two years it’s – “Coup”, ” tribalism “, “Mandinka” , “bad citizens diaspora ” and embarrassing our elders. Why are we surprised then if they repeat the same things?