Happy Independence Week!

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By Saihou Camara

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Former president Yahya Jammeh’s leadership has demonstrated how cruel man can be towards man when our conscience are not guided by righteousness, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate how man can rise from the ashes of evil to the epitome of glory, love, dignity, and rule of law.

Our people are not strangers to adversities. We were once enslaved and passed through some of the greatest dehumanization towards humanity, but we overcome. We were once colonized and held in bondage, worst than what the Pharaoh puts through God’s people in Egypt, but we overcome. Our independence was undermined by neocolonial propagandas motivated by racism and hatred, but we over come. We shall also overcome the Yahya Jammeh trauma, God speed.

For 22 years the world watched us suffered under former president Jammeh. For 22 years they watched the families of Koro Ceesay, Deda Hydara, April 10/11 massacres suffered in isolation, for 22 years they have watched the families of Chief Manneh, and many others cried for help to no veil. Peace loving Gambians who believed in the rule of law and democracy often tried to seek refuge from our men and women in uniform were often kidnapped, jailed, torture, raped, and sometimes murdered in cold blood by the same people who had sworn to serve and protect. For 22 years not even we Gambians did that which is right and we allowed Yahya Jammeh stained blood on our conscience by remaining silent. We all fell short of the glory of God and that of mankind. Today we are equipped with a unique opportunity to redeem our freedom.

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The long term peace and stability of our country do not only requires but it also demands that we reconcile our differences, forgive where we can, punish heftily where necessary, and be just towards all and sundry.

I must remind us that justice is not monolithic. I do not have the moral and political mandate to ask the families of the victims of Yahya Jammeh to forgive. But if we choose forgiveness as a nation in the presence of man and the divinity of God, we must never forget. Let us learn from the Liberians and Rwandans, where perpetrators faced their victims, look at them in their eyes, shook their hands, and asked for forgiveness. Let us not share the ill fate of the Ugandans and allow history to repeat itself. Let us never allow ourselves to walk this evil path again. We must forgive, reconcile, punish (if necessary), and rehabilitate from our past, but I’ll also encourage us to remain internally vigilant and never forget what we passed through.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the people of the Gambia. Let us reflect on our past as we prepare for the future of our nation. Happy independence celebration to all, we have a country to build. May God bless the Gambia and her people!

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