We survived the gruesomeness of the Sierra Leonean civil war. Eastern Sierra Leone at one point was overwhelmed by the long anticipated rebel invasion. The diamond rich east must be invaded to crown the atrocities of the civil war. The unflinching attack on whatever breath was the legacy the rebels were known to leave behind. Bodies of rotten corpses littering the streets, people and assets set ablaze were few of the images still fresh in my mind. No one was saved from the wickedness displayed by these ruthless gangs of unhinged sycophants.
Immigrant families like ours had only two options. We either take to our heels and secure our lives or face the horrors of dying an undignified death. We chose the former because we had a backup home in The Gambia. Home was far but surely there to welcome us. Somewhere we could go back to and start over again. We became refugees by returning to our peaceful Gambia. We lost everything. Our wealth, our health, our assets and social lives vanished all of a sudden. We became poorer than those my parents once sent handout to back home in The Gambia. We are still yet to recover from our lost after more than two decades. Sadly my parent lay in their graves without seeing their children through. What was also hard about it was not the prospect of starting afresh but the fact that we were to get accustomed to new ways of life. We became the subject of those who had authorities. They could marry our sisters off to whoever they see fit. Our lands were confiscated by those who could show up in court with money to bribe the system. Some extended family members were undeterred by their desire to shred our families apart. They had little remorse about their action. All because we were unfortunate to come back home as refugees from a war turned Sierra Leone. Compare to others, we were relatively better off. Other families have to bear with the decision of their love ones committing suicide because of the humiliation of being subjected to such poverty, wretchedness and social exclusion. Some can start it all over again but many cannot bear the hardship and uncertainty that comes with it.
The natives back in Sierra Leone have limited if not no option. Fleeing and abandoning their homes makes them refugees like us but with more disadvantages. Deciding to stay was a decision to face the wrath of the rebels. Knowing well this was the bitter legacy of the Sierra Leonean civil war one should not be surprised by the presence of a sizeable and progressive Sierra Leonean community in The Gambia. They ran from the devastation of the war and had to build up their livelihoods from scratch. If you think military confrontation is the best solution to political standoff, please take a lesson from what I have just briefly noted.
The political standoff in The Gambia is once again reminding me of the trauma of my childhood. I know for sure I can’t live through another conflict. It makes me scared knowing well the situation in The Gambia is setting the grounds for a potential military confrontation. The recipes for a political explosion are set. The outgoing president is attempting to bring the entire system down with him.
Yahya Jammeh your actions are just inviting military intervention. Armies from outside setting their feet on the sacred land of The Gambia will be a sin The Gambian people will never forgive or forget.
If a decision is reached by the regional bodies to intervene militarily in the Gambia, Senegal for sure will lead the entire adventure. Senegalese long standing wish of controlling The Gambia and subjecting us to their whims will be legitimized by an international mandate of a military intervention. Something you (Yayha Jammeh) are provoking.
Yahya Jammeh, your moves to suspend the democratic process of a peaceful transition has just guaranteed the intervention of the Senegalese military personnel in the street of Banjul just as it happened during the 1981 rebellion.
During a military intervention of foreign forces, the wills of the people are secondary to the goals of the intervening forces. A foreign military presence comes with a price. Limited freedom, sexual exploitation and defiling of our young ladies, are some of the nightmares we will have to go through.
Yahya Jammeh is that what you wish for our country? Was it what you planned to leave as your legacy?
I am request the incoming administration to work around this problem with all measures of precaution and level headedness. Try all means through diplomatic channels to solve the standoff and ensure the country never goes through the horrors of a political conflict.
By the Engineer