The ongoing tribal clashes taking place in the Gambia, a nation, which has recently transitioned from dictatorship to democratic rule, is a cause for concern. Tensions are mounting up in some communities, as anti-tribal sentiments are gaining ground in the impoverished tiny West African nation. Democracy goes with civility, tolerance, and respect for the individual—irrespective of one’s political beliefs, affiliation, creed, color, gender, national heritage, religion, or ethnicity. Such democratic values are sacrosanct to a nation’s peace, stability, political pluralism, and prosperity.
In recent weeks, there has been reports of personal properties being destroyed to the ground in some communities especially in the Fonis, and the Upper River Region of the Gambia; locals hospitalized due to injuries they sustained from the unabated tribal and political clash. Supporters of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and the former ruling APRC followers can hardly get along. They are like cats and mouse. Fighting between the two political camps is now becoming a daily occurrence.
The police intervention unit (PIU) is now preoccupied with policing areas where political and tribal violence is gaining momentum. The political and tribal crisis is escalating. Tribalism has dominated the political discourse.
Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe, has personally placed numerous phone calls to the police command in Banjul, asking them to deploy the PIU to Foni, and elsewhere around the country to doze the mounting political tension. We have evidence to back it up! Our sources at the police headquarters can confirm our reportage.
Gambia’s new found democracy is at the risked of being upset if the current political leadership governing the country fail to assert its moral and constitutional responsibility in making an end to the never ending tribal bigotry, hate speech, and violence being orchestrated by some misguided opposition supporters. Tribalism in all its form is unacceptable and those fanning it should recognize the ramifications of their ungodly actions. No tribe is superior to the other. We must learn to coexist as Gambians and stop the tribal bigotry if we really want to heal the wounds perpetrated by the former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
It is imperative to note that Yahya Jammeh, the exiled Gambian despot, was ruling the country, largely based on tribal line, blatant nepotism, mediocrity, political patronage, and despotism. Mr. Jammeh openly favored his minority tribesmen, the Jollas, and rewarded any Gambian—irrespective of one’s tribe provided the person is willing to help him to misrule the country. Almost all the tribes in this country have been complicit in aiding and abetting the onetime irrational and paranoid dictator.
As articulated above, Mr. Jammeh came from the minority tribe called the Jollas. How comes that he was able to misrule this country for over two decades without the help of the other ethnic groups? Come on Gambia…..Mr. Jammeh was never short of Jollas, Mandinkas, Wollofs, Fullas, Sarahules, and other unnamed tribes to maintain his brutal dictatorship. Either wittingly or unwittingly, some Gambians proudly serve him in different capacities in the name of contributing one’s quota to nation building. And they knew very well that Jammeh epitomizes evil, corruption, sin, underdevelopment, and anything ungodly. Some of the same folks are today embracing and serving the new political dispensation. Welcome to the new Gambia!
That said, like any other tribe in the Gambia, it is important to note that the Mandinka tribe suffered a lot under Jammeh’s rule. Its sons and daughters have been jailed, killed, discriminated at and in some occasions exiled. Jammeh was an equal opportunity abuser. He never spared his own tribesmen.
Now for any new government to succeed in leaving a memorable, and credible legacy behind, it must avoid threading on Jammeh’s bad legacy. This is not the time for payback or settling tribal scores. The nation needs healing and reconciliation.
National healing and reconciliation begin with promoting an ethnic diverse government. Fair representation of all tribes in the government; competent and qualified Gambians hired to fill the positions. It begins with winning the confidence and trust of those used, abused, and discarded by Jammeh.
A country’s untold story cannot be revealed if the very actors who aided and abetted Jammeh, are being treated differently. Irrespective of one’s ethnic background or political affiliation, in the eyes of the law, we are all equal. Hence, Jammeh and his enablers past story, should not be investigated based on selective justice.
Coming back to the tribal conflict taking place in the country, some Fullas in the Upper River Region, are also complaining of being persecuted because of their ethnicity. Such a national phenomenon should be disavowed by the leaders that be.
Tribal war has ravaged countries such as Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Burundi. From the government, its leadership, its supporters, communities, and religious leaders should discourage such divisiveness. It only retards national development. We rest our case!
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai