5 Reasons Barrow Should Reschedule His Nationwide Tour


President Adama Barrow of The Gambia! Photo: wikipedia images

President Adama Barrow has announced plans to embark on a nationwide “thank you tour”. The tour according to news reports will help the president familiarize himself with the political situation in the run up to the parliamentary elections, due on 6th April 2017. Needless to say the timing of the tour isn’t ideal, it is a waste of public and therefore, unnecessary. Here are five reasons, Barrow should consider to reschedule his tour.

Too much to do! The president is barely two months into his administration and has not even completed his cabinet. There is so much to do in Banjul. And adding on the logistics of preparing and heading out for a nationwide tour at this hour is totally undesirable. In his own words, Barrow has admitted that he inherited a broken system and that he will embark on a system “overhaul”. It is thus wiser for the president to focus his energy on that system overhaul for now.

Waste of resources! A nationwide is expensive, given that the president travels with “the State House”. And if figures from Barrow’s minister of finance are anything to go by, we better spend wisely. Barrow himself during his first tour outside Africa, said that his predecessor wasted about 85 million Euros domestically (whatever that means). I do not need to lay out how much the country’s economy is in distress. We heard the finance minister detailed how GDP is deteriorating, domestic and foreign debts skyrocketing. Inflation is still high, and the prices of basic commodities is unbearable to most of the very people the president wants to go and thank. He can definitely thank people better by fixing their shared problems.

Security situation! There is still a security risk in the country. From the political impasse to the reoccurring events around the border with southern Senegalese region of Cassamance, the security situation in the country is still volatile. Now this may sound as an over generalization and I agree, it could be but trust me, security is one thing we do not want to underestimate.

Timing isn’t great! The parliamentary elections are just around the corner. There is clearly, a conflict between and among some key players in the coalition government. The president has made his stand clear and there is seemingly a compromise. But any chance to link the president to any faction of the coalition will only complicate the conflict within the government. And as parliamentary candidates canvass across the country, Barrow will undoubtedly be caught in between. And as the president endeavors to be neutral in these circumstances, he should focus more on our collective need as a nation instead of what we want. Because we may want a “thank you tour” but we clearly need a robust economy, a functional government with fiscal discipline!

Unfettered media access! The president has all the media access he needs to send the biggest and loudest thank you ever! Some will argue that even former President Jammeh did not have the level of media access that Barrow has now. From the state broadcaster to community and online radios, FM stations, social media and all the others, Barrow can reach the last person in Koina in a single day, or even within an hour. And more importantly that will definitely cost ten times less than a nationwide tour.

Former and Current Presidents

Jawara (R) and Jammeh (L) former presidents

Here is a bonus point for the president. A nationwide thank you tour sounds like something former president Yahya Jammeh will do. The Barrow administration is seen as a change, geared toward building a “New Gambia”, (I still do not know what it really means). It is political hypocrisy of the highest order to condemn Jammeh for bad governance only for you to embark on his terrible projects.


The African Union on Twitter

Across Africa, citizens using social media to battle for democracy

In 2001 the African Union (AU) was established, succeeding the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The change signaled a shift in political will for a continental unity for dealing with common challenges such as economic rebuilding, growth, democracy, social cohesion, peace and stability. Modeled on the European Union, the AU also hoped to showcase Africa as a significant player in global affairs. To date, some regions have made progress toward the democratisation process. Continue reading

The Mediterranean crisis: a global challenge?

Overloaded migrant boats. Photo: nationale.ae

Overloaded migrant boats. Photo: nationale.ae

The statistics are scary. The world is watching. The politicians and policy makers (or should I say talkers, please excuse my language) either in Addis Ababa (African Union headquarters), Brussels (European Union capital) or New York (home of the United Nations) are NOT doing enough. For most of these organisations, they only convene on an issues after the loss of lives. Continue reading

My Open Letter to Imam Abdoulie Fatty of State House

Dear Mr Fatty,

Imam Abdoulie Fatty

Imam Abdoulie Fatty

I am writing to you regarding your recent pronouncements as carried by The Standard newspaper in its Friday 31st October 2014 edition. In the news article, you are reported to have “characterised the members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in The Gambia as non-Muslims, asserting that they should be banned from propagating their faith in the territorial confines of the country”. As a concerned citizen and a former teacher at one of the Ahmadiyya schools in the country, I feel obliged to enlighten you. I will also show you how your comments are unwarranted and out of touch.

First of all if as you suggest Ahmadis should be banned because of they are non-Muslims despite their claim to be Muslims, what about our Christian brothers and sisters? The Gambia population and housing census indicates that the country is not 100 percent Muslim and so common sense demand that if you ban a group for being non-Muslim then all other non-Muslim groups are effectively banned. Well except if we have biased and narrow minded people at the helm of affairs.

Secondly you have placed the Ahmadis outside the pale of Islam, I just wonder where have you amassed the authority to do so? Please note that your reference of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Omar Ibn Khatab (ra) is not applicable in this sense because like you noted the Holy Prophet never called Omar a non-Muslim but said that his faith is incomplete. And make no mistakes the difference between incomplete and a “nonstarter” maybe tiny to you but highly essential in this case. But let me assume (just for the sake of assumption) that your reference of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Omar Ibn Khatab is applicable here, are you claiming that you have earned the status of determining who is and who is not a Muslim in place of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)? Oh! I understand as a scholar, you are a representative of the Holy Prophet (saw) but remember there are limits in that representation. These limits include the fact that you cannot marry more than four wives at the same time even though the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did and that you cannot determine who is and who is not a Muslim. So what does the representation and leadership require of you?

Leadership and indeed responsible leadership demands that our leaders show some amount of due diligence in dealing with issues over sentiments. It does not behove a religious leader, especially a representative of the “Prince of Peace” to show seeds of discord and hatred among the followers of even say different religions. Suffice it to say that a Muslim leader cannot preach hatred against his fellow countrymen, even if they fail to believe in anything. Imam Abdoulie Fatty, after reading what you have said about Islam, it hurts me to call you “Imam”. So let me be clear, I am using the title just for the purpose of identification rather than association and please no disrespect meant. But instead of being guilty of the same thing I am condemning you for, let me cut the chase and go to the facts. Here you will find how legally, socially, politically and above all Islamically you got it all wrong.

Legally, “The Gambia is a Sovereign Secular Republic” this is on chapter one, section one and subsection one of the constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997. So lets just say that you have not read the constitution cover to cover because it is not in Arabic but this is in the very first chapter. Even if it is by chance, you should have seen it, so no excuse. And if you dig deeper, you will find out that the constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom. The constitution even further provides Gambians “freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice”. But again if you have checked the State House website, you will find that His Excellency has always preached about religious tolerance in The Gambia so please do not contradict and ruin President Jammeh’s efforts on this very important mattter.

Socially, we do not just have a strong but also an enviable social cohesion unheard of anywhere else in the world. Sadly though the implications of your statements will undermine just that. The Gambia is one of, if not the most peaceful country on planet earth – The Smiling Coast! Why on earth then trade that peace for religious bigotry? If you ban Ahmadis from propagating Islam in The Gambia today you will succeed in one thing and only one thing, that is sowing the seeds of social discord. And as a peace activist, I will definitely suggest that you should be charge with incitement of violence against the Ahmadis. Your comments constitute an absolute threat to peace and stability in the country. Furthermore, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at through all its institutions employs more non-Ahmadis than Ahmadis thanks to their believe in nondiscrimination of any kind, including but not limited to creed, gender, national origin, race, etc. Do you know how many people your plan will make go without jobs? How many responsible people? Okay look at it this way, at least 90 percent of all children enrolled in Ahmadi schools are non-Ahmadis. But is it also not funny when Dr. Zakir Naik said that people should not go to Ahmadiyya or Christian schools? No it is absolutely not funny becuase Dr. Zakir Naik has attended more than one Christian school. Oh! I get it, he did not know that it was wrong at the time? By the way the Ahmadiyya and Christian schools are among the best schools in the country. In fact some would say that they have the best schools in the country. I will not disagree with that but lets move on.

Politically, you are entitled to your opinions and I am glad that you believe that President Jammeh has built enough schools and hospitals which will adequately serve people without the Ahmadis. I cannot speak for the Ahmadis but I do know that the Ahmadis are not competing with His Excellency but they are simply complementing government’s efforts in service delivery. But since we hold no political offices, I am of the opinion that you and I cannot make sweeping political declarations like this. It makes us sound like a political clowns. My little knowledge of politics tells me that in party politics, numbers matter. And in genuine national development genuine partners do matter as well. So in both cases, the Ahmadis are important constituents. Whether or not you are doing this to score some political points from His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Alhagie Doctor Yahya AJJ Jammeh, I do not know. But please note that there is no country on planet earth that can be single-handedly developed by one individual. And am sure His Excellency the President knows this very well and that is why he is always trying to woo investors and genuine partners into the Smiling Coast. Unfortunately though your religious “gerrymandering” tactic in this context is not ideal at all. In the games of politics it is always a win or a loss. And since this is not just a lost but a big lost for you, I pray that you are not shown the red card. Unless you apologise for your ranting, you constitute a political liability for His Excellency.

In conclusion, Islam literally means peace and submission to the will of Allah the Almighty. This is enough reason for all men of understanding to keep to a personal struggle for salvation from Allah the Almighty in peace and harmony. Notwithstanding, the holy Qur’an, which is most reliable point of reference for all Muslims is full of exhortation for peace. The holy Qur’an tells us that we should make peace even if it is an inclination from our enemies and then put our trust in Allah. We read in chapter eight, (Surah Al-Anfal): “And if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

So in the name of peace and harmony, security and stability of our dear motherland I implore you to shun your hatred for the Ahmadis. The Gambia is bigger than all of us and we cannot afford to place our personal interests in religious bigotry above superior national interest in peace and stability. If anything, the Ahmadis and I mean all the Ahmadis that I know are law-abiding and very peaceful.

May we live and leave behind a better and more peaceful Gambia! Ameen!

Yours sincerely,

Demba Kandeh

5 Reasons Why Jammeh Should Not Celebrate 22nd July

22nd July is seen by many as the most important date on the calendar of Gambians. It is almost a household name in the country thanks to the “remarkable efforts” of the AFPRC and now APRC and its allies. On that fateful day, two decades ago, former President, Dawda Kairaba Jawara was deposed in what has been described as a “bloodless coup”. Jawara’s overthrow was masterminded by a group of soldiers led by then Lieutenant Yahya AJJ Jammeh. They identified themselves as the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) and Jammeh, 29 then, was the chairman of the AFPRC. As usual for putsches, the constitution was suspended, the borders sealed and a curfew implemented. While Jammeh’s new government justified the coup by decrying corruption and lack of democracy under the Jawara regime, army personnel had also been dissatisfied with their salaries, living conditions and prospects for promotion. The coup did not receive much resistance from home but attracted international condemnation. But twenty years on, Demba Kandeh tells us why the coup should not be celebrated. Continue reading

22nd July: Celebrating Coups and Extolling Democracy – Any Discrepancies?

As celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the military takeover by then Lieutenant Jammeh is underway, I wish to revisit a post I wrote two years ago.

The Global Guide

Image Jammeh and former Libyan leader (Gadhafi)

July 22nd is almost a household name in the Gambia. On that fateful day, eighteen years ago, former President, Dawda Kairaba Jawara was deposed in what has been described as a ‘bloodless coup’. Jawara’s overthrow was masterminded by a group of young soldiers led by then Lieutenant Yahya AJJ Jammeh. The putsches identified themselves as the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) and Jammeh, 29 at the time, was the chairman of the AFPRC. The AFPRC then suspended the constitution, sealed the borders and implemented a curfew. While Jammeh’s new government justified the coup by decrying corruption and lack of democracy under the Jawara regime, army personnel had also been dissatisfied with their salaries, living conditions and prospects for promotion. The coup did not receive much resistance from home but attracted international condemnation. Eighteen (18) years on, 22nd July is annually celebrated…

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The Gambia’s Media on the Crisis in Ukraine

The Gambia is the tiniest country in mainland Africa with a population of about 1.8 million. It is surrounded by Senegal on all three side and has the Atlantic Ocean to the west, serving as the mouth of the river Gambia. The country has a small but old and vibrant media until recently. Currently, regulation and or the lack of it has put so much strain on the country’s new media since the dawn of the government of President Yahya AJJ Jammeh. He came to power in 1994 through a “bloodless coup” that ousted first president, Dawda Kairaba Jawara who led the country to independence in 1965. During the Jawara regime, the Gambia was seen as a model for democracy in Africa, owing especially to its respect for fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and press freedom. Continue reading