Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gambian Coalition: A Coalition Against What?

President Adama Barrow
The brouhaha surrounding the election of the current Gambian President Adama Barrow over long-term dictator Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa and Jammeh's inital acceptance and later rejection of the election results and the determination of ECOWAS  to ensure that Jammeh had to go by love or by force, hid a major problem with the victorious Gambian Coalition; it's inherent instability.

The Gambian Coalition that trounced Yahya Jammeh in December 2016 was a loose collection of eight political parties, bonding together by necessity, in spite of their personal and ideological differences, to ensure that their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh, was defeated in the Presidential elections of that December. 
Halifah Sallah

The Coalition Presidential candidate Adama Barrow, in a grand compromise,  had to resign from his own party, the United Democratic Party, and contest as an independent candidate, so that no one party could lay a legal claim to the coalition presidency.

However, the coalition agreement could not negate the fact that these were individuals, many of whom had been political rivals for decades, each with different economic and political ideologies.       As is usually the case with African politics, many of these parties also had different ethnic loyalties. It was a chaotic mix of parties, personalities and opinions, managing to temporarily coexist in an unstable equilibrium.
Ousainou Darboe

In fighting against a common enemy,  the Gambian Coalition had managed to present a united front throughout the pandemonium that followed Jammeh's defeat, followed by his intransigence and refusal to step down from office and his ultimate exile deep into the interior of the relatively unknown Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, where it is reported, he is contemplating going into farming.

Unfortunately, now that the coalition has gotten rid of their common enemy, Jammeh, the common bond that held them together has been severed. In the clamor for positions and influence in the Barrow regime, there were already signs of strains in the coalition's cohesiveness. With legislative elections in the country coming up, the coming days and weeks will be the first major trial of the coalition and already the cracks have appeared and are only destined to widen.

 A lot of ordinary Gambians around the country and in the diaspora failed to see the coalition as nothing more than a marriage of convenience. They truly wanted the Gambian coalition to have some permanence, to be a symbol of ethnic and national unity. In their minds, the coalition would demonstrate to the world that somehow, Gambians were unique and could work together, in harmony for the future of their country. Of course this was always  nothing but a sweet illusion.

Given the competitive nature of the human being and the innate competitiveness of multiparty politics, the notion of a coalition of eight parties working together in harmony, in the absence of their common enemy, was never going to truly work as expected. With their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh gone into political oblivion, at least for the near future, the founding purpose of the coalition no longer exists.  
Mai Fatty

The Gambian coalition was an ad hoc arrangement that worked, and will always remain an example to other African opposition groups. However, any view that it could be a permanent institution symbolizes a deep lack of understanding of human nature in general and  politics in particular.  Any expectation that eight African political parties can continue working together, when the glue that held them together no longer exists, is simply political naivete. At the end of the day, Gambians are just as humans as the rest of mankind and multiparty politics will always be a battle of different interests and different world views, and the two will always be uneasy bedfellows. 

With Gambian Coalition spokesman Halifa Sallah deciding not to take part in the country's executive and erudite lawyer Ousainou Darboe freed from incarceration and now in power, these are two political and intellectual heavyweights with political ideologies so diametrically opposed, that I just do not see a way that they can continue reading from the same playbook. Throw into that mix all the other political and ideological heavyweights both within the country and abroad, with different views of the future and different ideas on good governance, it would be a miracle if the cohesiveness of the coalition survives more than a year. 
Vice President Fatou Tambajang

The coalition worked when it needed to and is still in a strong position to do a lot of good before the cracks become permanent. They can set the stage for what happens in the Gambia of the future and can ensure that the human right violations that occurred under Jammeh will never happen again. The coalition's common purpose now will be to rewrite the rules of the country, guaranteeing the citizens real political freedom. They can also ensure the establishment of a thriving democracy with real checks and balances. They can guarantee the respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, and can ensure that the mistakes of the past 22 years will never be repeated again. 

Together, the coalition can determine the the rules for future political engagement in the country, ensuring a level playing field for all and probably become a model for good governance in the sub-region. The coalition can also ensure education for most and set up institutions that will encourage youths to develop skills for formal and self employment. With all the parties currently working together, the future of Gambia looks bright. However,  power and politics has a way of clouding good dreams, and I hope the coalition stays the course and continue the good fight, at least for now.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Tegloma Washington DC Inaugurates First Female Federation Leader

First Female Leader of Tegloma
Chairman Julia Hawa Conteh
Founding Member and First Tegloma
Chairman Benjamin Blake
Tegloma Federation Inc, is the largest Sierra Leonean nonpolitical organization in the diaspora. Tegloma which means "Togetherness for Progress" was founded in Washington DC in 1975, to promote the culture, welfare and interests of Sierra Leoneans of Southeastern descent living in the United States. 
Displaying the Staff of Office

The Tegloma Washington DC Chapter was the first of the more than twenty chapters which today comprises Tegloma Federation International Inc, an organization that has now spread to three continents.
 At its inception, Tegloma was primarily a Mende organization, as was common with many of the cultural organizations of the period, which were founded along ethnic lines. 
Tegloma Federation Vice Chairman
Mrs Elizabeth Saidu Momoh

However, given the interest in the organization by people who were not Mendes, the Tegloma organization has since evolved to open its door to all Sierra Leoneans and nationals of other countries who were interested in the culture and traditions of Southeastern Sierra Leone. 
Tegloma Land Committee Members
Seisay and Janneh
Tegloma has also become a nonprofit organization engaging in charitable causes in USA and Sierra Leone and was one of the first Sierra Leone diaspora organizations to respond with material assistance during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.
Chiefs Summit Host Washington DC
President Moiforay
Secretary General Amos Allie

Tegloma as an organization is comprised of several semi-autonomous chapters in many states in the USA, with chapters also in Canada, Gambia and Sierra Leone. All Tegloma chapters are subject to the authority of the Tegloma Federation Inc, which is the umbrella organization for all chapters.
Some Current and Past Chapter Chiefs

Over the years, many Tegloma chapters in varous states have been led by women. However, the leadership of the main Tegloma Federation administration has been the sole preserve of men, a legacy of the patriarchal nature of Sierra Leone organizations and society. Sierra Leone has always had male Presidents and Vice Presidents throughout its history.

Presenting the Tegloma Staff of Office
Tegloma New England President
"Mama Africa"
However, in September 2016, Julia Hawa Conteh, the former President of Tegloma New York Chapter took a hammer and to the male reinforced glass ceiling of the organization, shattered it and   became the first female Tegloma Federation Chairman and President in the 41 year history of the organization. 

Hawa Julia Conteh had previously lost a Federation Chairman election,but remained undeterred in her quest to make history. On the second try she succeeded as the first lady to win a Tegloma federation election for chairmaan.  Julia Hawa Conteh and Vice Chairman Elizabeth Saidu Momoh finally brought an end to the decades of male domination of Tegloma, under the likes of Benjamin Blake, Lansana Nyallay, Sam Saidu, Allie Foh, Alfred Jamiru and many other past male leaders of the organization.

 Julia's election was a calculated and determined effort that has brought into the organization what the female members of the organization are now calling "Woman Power!" A lady at the inauguration of Julia Hawa Conteh stated that women would lead the organization for the next 40 years. That is yet to be seen.
Tegloma Patrons
Julia Hawa Conteh Recognizing
Chapter Chiefs

Being the first female leader of a male dominated organization, and coming from a culture used to male leadership has not been easy for the new leader of the organization in her first few months in office. Already come of the male members of the organization with strong traditional mentality are in strong opposition to her leadership. Some of the older chapter leaders opposed to her leadership boycotted her inauguration this past weekend in Washington DC.

Hail to the Chief
Tegloma Federation Treasurer
Deborah Bockarie
In spite of the testosterone fueled obstacles, Tegloma's first female leader Julia Hawa Conteh was, in the presence of her husband and family, publicly presented to the friends and members of the Sierra Leone community, at a Tegloma Chiefs Summit on March 4th 2017, at an elaborate inaugural ceremony that was organized by the Tegloma Federation and the hardworking men and women of Tegloma Washington Chapter, led by their dynamic Chief Brima Moiforay. 

Former Tegloma Board Chairman
Abu Bhona
pha
Julia Hawa Conteh who is a member of Tegloma New York chapter decided to have her inauguration in Washington DC, to symbolize the fact that the first female leader of the organization was formally unveiled in the founding chapter of the organization.
Julia Hawa Conteh with Proud
Family

Tegloma Chiefs and members from all over the continental USA flew to Washington DC to witness and participate in the historic Chiefs Summit and Inauguration. The Vice Chairman of the Federation Mrs. Elizabeth Momoh, was also in attendance, including many former and present executive members of the Tegloma Federation administration and board of directors.

Woman Power
Pouring Libations
Rose Mustapha
The Chiefs summit was a mixture of old meets new, with the Keynote Speaker being the first ever Chairman of Tegloma Federation Mr. Benjamin Blake, who spoke of the history of Tegloma and its enormous role in the sociocultural history of the Sierra Leone diaspora. The rest of the Chiefs summit was devoted to contemporary issues such as organizational assistance to Sierra Leone's educational and health sectors, fundraising initiatives and organizational sustainability.
Former Board and Administration Chairmen
Mustapha & Jamiru
Minnesota & Missouri Chapter
Presidents 
Out-Going Tegloma Dallas Chief
Elizabeth Mamie Bockarie

Dinner Break
Tegloma Founding member
Ernest Pekanyande
The ceremonial inauguration was presided over by the former Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha, as the current Board Chairman was not able to attend the occasion. The MC for the inauguration were Dr. Lawrence Sandi and Miss Rosaline Bangura.
MC Rosaline Bangura


MC Dr Lawrence Sandi


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Sun Sets on Jammeh Babili Mansa

video
Yahya Jammeh is now slowly starting to realize that the base of his castle was built on a foundation of sand.

One of my Nigerian friends who knows President Buhari very well told me some days ago that the Nigerian President did not like stubborn people. So when President Buhari came last Friday to Gambia and left very hastily, leaving behind the other members of his delegation, it was very clear that things had fallen apart. My friend told me in no uncertain terms that Yahya Jammeh had made a grave and existential mistake.
video

Today, as Senegalese troops entered Gambia and rolled through the empty roads of the country easily, meeting no military resistance but people in the villages cheering them on, it was very clear that all the loud threats made by Yahya Jammeh over the past few weeks had just been a load of hot air.

Even though it is rumored that military elements loyal to Ex-President Yahya Jammeh were planning surprise night attacks on the foreign troops, such an action would be extremely foolhardy, as the mass of troops arraigned against them is just too overwhelming.

One thing Jammeh failed to realize in all this period of saber rattling and making loud noises was the distinct disadvantage his country had when it came to defensive warfare. Other countries in the region like Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have a lot of tropical jungle in which guerilla elements can hide and mount protracted small scale military campaigns.
Unfortunately for Jammeh, his country is completely in the Sahel. Almost the entire country has no major forest. Vegetation is very sparse in most of Gambia. During the dry periods, you can see miles and miles of dry flatlands filled with dried scorched grass that crumbles just when touched. Some areas of Gambia are so hot that nobody can stay anywhere that is not near a known source of drinking water. In essence there is almost no jungle in the country for his overrated "Junglers" to hide in. Jammeh has a brave military, but they could only be realistically used to control the people of his country and the occasional foreign peacekeeping mission. 

There was no way Jammeh could fight Senegal, let alone West Africa.
Gambia is also a very small country with an area of about 4,127 square miles. By comparison, Sierra Leone, another small country in West Africa is about 27,699 square miles. As small as Sierra Leone is, it is more than 6 times the size of Gambia and Sierra Leone is one of the smallest countries in West Africa! The widest part of Gambia is less than 30 miles. It is a long and narrow country swallowed entirely by Senegal, except along its coastal boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.
Senegal is 75,951 square miles!

Given these distinct geographical disadvantages and a military that was less than 2000 men, why Yahya Jammeh boasted that he can defeat any force sent to fight him will forever remain a ministry. Probably, by suppressing the small population of his country for 22 years,  Jammeh had either forgotten the true size of his country or he truly believed that Allah would intervene  on his behalf.

However, many of Jammeh's allies have been more realistic. Almost his entire cabinet, including his Vice President have now resigned. The only ones still holding out are those who believe everything their Marabouts tell them, the ones that probably believe that Jammeh csn actually cure AIDS. Even members of the military, including the Chief of Staff are now reported to have switched their allegiance to Barrow. Stubbornness is a lonely place.

Things are fluid at the moment,  with conflicting news coming out of the country. What has been confirmed is that foreign troops are now in the country with UN Security Council and AU blessing and under ECOWAS command to kick out the stubborn Jammeh. World diplomats have shifted recognition of presidential status from Jammeh to Barrow. Gambian troops have so far refused to engage the foreign troops. Jammeh is still in the country.

We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. But currently,things do not look good for the king of Kanilai, Babili Mansa Professor Sheikh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

West Africa Ready to Pounce on Jammeh

Some weeks ago, the embattled loser of the Gambian elections, incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, asked "who the hell" were West African leaders to ask him to hand over power. He vowed on national TV to resist any attempt to force him from power. As the midnight deadline given to him by the international community approaches, Jammeh is demonstrating to the whole world that he will not go quietly. He will rather die or spend the rest of his life in jail rather than be president.

Earlier today, Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson for the coalition government in waiting, gave a very detailed account of everything that had been done by the coalition to ensure that there was a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. He stated that even in the midst of the unfair treatment of the opposition by the incumbent president, they had continued to stress to the supporters of the coalition, the necessity to see that peace prevailed and nobody was attacked, so that the country would not degenerate into the spilling of blood and the destruction of property. 

All attempts by people in The Gambia; the religious elders, town Chiefs, politicians, Gambians abroad for Jammeh to see reason and hand over in order to avoid any bloodbath in the country had been rejected by the power hungry leader. Up to the moment, members of the Gambian opposition were holding out for Jammeh to see some sanity.

However, the West African leadership is determined to ensure that the current crisis in the country is resolved as swiftly as possible. Even as Gambians continue to flee the country in droves, BBC and other credible reports indicate a movement of Senegalese troops towards various border positions along Gambia, a country that is almost entirely encircled by its larger neighbor. Senegalese troops have been reported both along the northern border by Kaolak and the Southern Casamance region which is closer to Jammeh's fortress Kanilai. 

The Nigerian military had already dispatched a warship that is currently in Gambian waters awaiting for further instructions.The Force is prepared for an amphibious landing with significant air support. The Nigerian Airforce Spokesman Ayodele Famuyiwa has confirmed the deployment of significant air assets to Senegal, comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Airborne troop carriers and surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, with about 200 members of the Airforce. Jammeh's military installations will be under attack as soon as the go ahead was given to take out the tyrant.

Jammeh in the meantime has declared a state of emergency and convinced his members of parliament to support the charade. Here are the members of the Nigerian military getting ready to go give Jammeh some tough love.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Latest from The Jammeh Show: Yahya Jammeh Settling for Violence

Gambian General Ousman Badji
Ready to take on West Africa 
By deciding to impose a State of Emergency in The Gambia yesterday, all in a desperate bid to prevent the January 19th Inauguration of President-Elect Adama Barrow, Yahya Jammeh, the country's long term dictator, seems to have finally battened the last door on peace in his small and beautiful country.
We will Fight to the Last Man

Throughout his 22 year rule and even during the current conflict, Yahya Jammeh has shown himself to be a man with the mentality of a nail. The only thing a nail understands is a hammer. ECOWAS and the rest of the world wanted a peaceful resolution to the Gambian crisis, but as it stands, the West African community will soon have no other option, but to hammer Jammeh very hard, so that he can realize that being the president of a country does not make that country your personal property and that multilateral agreements between nation states are not comedic jokes.

Like Laurent Gbagbo, Hosni Mubarak, Charles Taylor, Muammar Ghaddafi, Idi Amin and Blaise Campaore, to name a few, Yahya Jammeh is probably going to join the ranks of those infamous African leaders who could never believe that their time was up, but had to be dragged violently out of power. 
The Jammeh Show

It is very admirable that West African leaders are no longer willing to stand aside, while one of their colleagues treats the people of his country as if their rights were subordinate to his individual ambition. We truly hope that Jammeh survives the likely impending invasion of his country. However, this action  could still be avoided if Jammeh sees reason and understands the futility of trying to fight against the combined military might of the West African Subregion.
Goats Fed Up

Jammeh is however a stubborn man. He is also a traditional man. Some may even call him primitive. He is a man with supreme belief in his own invincibility and is very superstitious. He also believes that he has mystical and supernatural powers. This is a man who truly believes he can cure AIDS, a disease whose cure continues to elude the greatest scientific minds of this century, in spite of the billions of dollars that have been spent in just trying to control its impact. If Jammeh believes he can cure AIDS, a feat which has eluded the brightest minds in the world, why can't the president believe in the self delusion that no force in the world can defeat him in The Gambia.

Even as warnings come from the entire leadership of West Africa, the African Union, the United Nations Security council and from members of his own cabinet ministers and his diplomats, the Gambian tyrant remains steadfast, wanting to show his supporters that he is not a coward. He has testicles of steel.

Yahya Jammeh may have seriously bitten more than he can chew. Having been a West African leader for so long, he knows that most threats of military intervention are in many cases not followed by action, but with his arrogance and public challenges, he seems to be making a bad miscalculation. Jammeh should realize that West Africa has a history of backing up their threats with action in some cases, as they did in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Jammeh's position is very similar to that taken by Sierra Leone's military strongman Johnny Paul Koroma during his ill fated military insurrection in that country. With Jammeh having pulled some publicity stunts throughout the past few weeks, West African leaders are now growing convinced that the only way to stop this madman is through the use of force.

Our sources in The Gambia report of turmoil within the ranks of the military. Jammeh loyalists and clans men are said to be keeping very close eyes on those who  they consider may not in favor of the delusional mission of their leader and Commander-in-Chief. Jammeh loyalists are reportedly being ritualistically washed in herbs and concoctions which they believe will make them bulletproof. The military Chief of Staff now masquerades openly with traditional amulets and beads over his military attire. If Jammeh and his allies are thinking that foreign forces are going to engage them in field combat, then they are not ready for the terror that will rain down on them if they do not abandon their clownish leader and work with Senegal to ensure that the beautiful country is left intact.

Probably the only peaceful outcome to this quagmire will come from the military deciding not to fight for Jammeh, but instead try to prevent unnecessary chaos in the country, by siding with people against the delusional tyrant. But as things currently stand, "The Jammeh Show" continues.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Gambian Updates: When Children Don't Listen to their Parents-The Jammeh Show

Nigerian President
Muhammadu Buhari 
Last week Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was in Gambia to try to talk to that country's recalcitrant, soon to be ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, in order for him to see reason and hand over power peacefully to the man who won the country's December 2016 elections, President-Elect Adama Barrow. Of course, as some predicted and most expected, Yahya Jammeh did not listen.
 Dr. Yahya A. J. J Jammeh
Babili Mansa

The choice of President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the delegation talking to Jammeh was both symbolic and strategic. Like Jammeh, Buhari had led Nigeria both as a soldier and a civilian. Buhari has known what it was to lose power, he himself having once being overthrown in a military coup. Both men are devout Muslims, although Buhari, unlike Jammeh, does not walk about with a Quran and prayer beads, but leaves statements about his faith between him and his God. Both men had been career military officers, with Buhari having a more decorated  and longer military career than Jammeh. Buhari had also led a military over 50 times larger and infinitely more powerful than Jammeh's military. 
President Elect Adama Barrow

It was therefore one ex-soldier to another, a Major General to a Lieutenant, a military leader to another, a civilian president to another, an old man to a relatively young man, like a father to a son. Unfortunately like a son who does not listen to his parent, Jammeh has decided that he won't listen. Alas forJammeh, children who don't listen to their fathers invariably live a lifetime of regret, Yahya may die regretting not listening to the advice of the wise old man from Nigeria.

Yahya Jammeh has always stressed his obedience to the will of Allah, even when his actions have been anything but Satanic. Well, here was a leader who came bearing the same name as the Prophet of Islam, but Jammeh still refused to listen to him, failing, in his arrogance, to see the symbolism of the moment and the wisdom of the saying that many times Allah talks to you through people. 

Buhari and Jammeh represent opposite spectrums of African leadership. While Buhari is calm, with quiet dignity and believes in the rule of law, Jammeh is arrogant, proud, with an exaggerated opinion about himself and his abilities. While Buhari, a Muslim, seeks guidance from God, Jammeh believes that his words and actions are dictated of God. While Buhari came holding a flag of peace, Jammeh truly doesn't care for peace, all he cares for is power. He thinks he is a fighter and always carries a sword. 

What Jammeh failed to realize on Friday, was that Buhari was coming to GAMBIA with with the power of the whole region, Africa and the world behind him. At the 647th meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa held on January 13th, the Council commended ECOWAS for their position on Gambia and gave full support to the decision by ECOWAS to solve the problem in The Gambia by "all means." The Council called on Jammeh to respect both his country's Constitution,  the African Union's Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance "by handing over power, on 19 January 2017, as stated in the Constitution, to the newly elected President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, as decided by the people of the country."

The African Peace and Security Council told Jammeh that the December 2016 results in Gambia were inviolable and stated zero tolerance for any other move. They stated that come January 19 2017, the AU  will no longer recognize Yahya Jammeh as the President of the country, which will effectively  strip him of all privileges that came with the position. Jammeh was also warned of serious consequences if any action of his led to crisis in Gambia. The Council also urged Gambian security forces to show restraint, abide by their country's constitution and follow the rule of law.

To add fuel to the fire that he has already set in his country, Jammeh in an unprecedented act of presidential childishness, called the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, seemingly privately over the weekend, pretending to now be ready for peace, and begging the internationally respected Liberian leader to facilitate the provision of judges for his elections results appeal. Unknown to the Liberian leader who thought she was in a private conversation, the Gambian president was broadcasting the call on national TV without informing her that their conversation was not private, in a clear breach of diplomatic protocol. 

Luckily for President Johnson-Sirleaf she did not make any statement that contravened the current ECOWAS position that Jammeh handover on the 19th, but stated that she was glad that he was seeking a peaceful way out of the impasse and advised him to put his position in writing for her to make available to the West African leadership. The sleazy character that Jammeh is, had made the call in a room full of his loyal allies and they sat their listening quietly as their president did his juvenile prank. It was part of what is now known in Gambia as "The Jammeh Show."

Ellen Johnson was of course very furious when she discovered that the call by Jammeh was not a genuine quest for peace, but the prankish publicity stunt of a delusional leader so hungry for power that he had lost all sense of self respect. The stunt only exposed what Jammeh's critics had been saying all along; that he was a deranged sociopath whose only interest lay only in promoting the messianic cult he had built around his image. He did not care about the Gambian people. But as President Sirleaf rightly stated on BBC, the call revealed the true character of Jammeh. The fellow was just a murderous, half literate psychopath who believed he had supernatural abilities.

Yahya Jammeh still continues to defy his people and the international community. As they say, pride goes before a fall. Yahya has controlled and led his Gambian people for so long that he has either truly forgotten the limits of his power, is too power conscious to imagine a life without power, or is just too stupid to realize that there is no good way out of the hole he is continuing to dig himself tighter into. 

As of today, a few more ministers have abandoned his sinking ship, even as West African leaders get ready to drag him out by his ears if it comes to that. The Finance, Communications, Justice, Foreign ministers have jumped on lifeboats and abandoned ship. Many more are poised to do so, as the military get ready to show Jammeh who they are loyal to. It's a few more days to Barrow's inauguration and many Gambians are fleeing to Senegal because they know their delusional leader would probably not know when to stop. 

We just hope for the sake of peace that somebody will knock some sense into Jammeh's thick skull and do so quick. For now the world will continue to stay glued to The Jammeh Show.

Dear President Jammeh

Dear Yahya Abjul-Aziz,

Don't you wish you could go all over to 1994 and do it again? You remember when you took over the leadership of the country? Thousands of men, women and youths were cheering for you.  A fresh face and a new start was all they wanted from you and your colleagues.

The people believed you, when you said you will work for them. They believed you when you condemned Jawara for amassing wealth while the people lived in poverty and squalor. They believed you when you said no man should rule for too long. They believed you when you said never again will a Gambian child go to bed and cry for lack of food and opportunity.

Today Yahya, you have become worse than what you condemned. Jawara may have ruled longer than you, but he did not have the blood on his hands that you do. He did not make wives widows, children fatherless and parents weep over the loss of their young sons and daughters. You looked at life and you took it away. Is that why you are scared? Is that why you've become suicidal and want to fight the world?

You believed you had a great destiny, to free your people from oppression, to be a bright spot on the African continent. You believed in your destiny, you bought into the myth of your destiny, you became your own destiny. But my brother, each story must end. No man lives a billion years. Nobody ever has, you will not.

You grew to believe that you were favored by Allah. That you, among all Gambians, was the only choice of the almighty. But you never did learn, that Allah does not like ugly deeds. You tortured, murdered and maimed, all the while professing your faith in Allah. What about those innocents who you killed? The journalist who you shot, those you exiled? Those who bled in mile Two, do you think Allah did not care for them?

Yahya you were once a hero, but over the years you became a monster. You once told people you were Mandela, but now your people look at you and all they see is Idi Amin. A cold hearted village tyrant. You are no Mandela my brother. Mandela had wisdom, Mandela had forgiveness, Mandela had love. You,my brother, lack wisdom, forgiveness, and love.

The Apartheid government locked up Mandela, took him away from his family and destroyed the prime years of his life. They made him sleep in solitary confinement for so many years. They robbed him of his family and youth. He never succumbed to hate. He never insulted them, he never told told them he would bury the nine feet deep, he never called them vermin.

You on the other hand look at people whose only offense was to not support your APRC party and called them evil, vermin and promise to never work with them.

You promised to kill them and you did. You promised to bury them and you did. Do you still remember the names of all you killed in this country? Do their faces haunt you in your sleep, or you are too far down the path of evil to even consider that they too had lives, had dreams and had loved ones?

Yahya, you conducted these elections and you lost. Just step down and go away. If you are afraid for your safety, go into exile,  at least for some time. If you don't trust Nigeria, you could go to your wife's country Morocco. But please don't cause any more bloodshed in your country. You've had 22 years to do what you wanted to do. Give the chance for someone else to control the destiny of the country.

The people believed in you, now they don't, but that is the beauty of democracy. Gambians did not condemn you, they just want a different direction. Is that so difficult to understand?

I appeal to you brother to step down for the sake of Allah. Do not let your personal ambition lead to the loss of even one Gambian life. I hope you will heed this message and not become like Pharaoh, who disregarded all God's signs and lost his body and soul.

May Allah continue to show you the right path. Listen to those who warn you, for they are your true friends. Power is not worth your life.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Gambians Should not Fall for Jammeh's New Moves

Even Goats are Fed Up
Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh is currently in somewhat of a jam. This past Monday, his appeal against the election results in his country couldn't go ahead, as there were not enough judges in the country to preside over the case. 

On Wednesday he stopped a delegation of West African leaders who were on their way to Banjul to try and convince him to peacefully  handover on January 19th to the winner of the country's Presidential elections, Adama Barrow. They are due to head to Gambia today, if he allows them in.
President Elect Adama Barrow 

As if things were not bad enough, Gambian Communication Minister Sheriff Bojang, one of Jammeh's strongest allies has defected from the government and absconded to Senegal, accusing his ally of "an attempt to subvert the will" of the Gambian people, by refusing to handover power to the candidate who had clearly won the country's December 2016 elections. Sheriff Bojang had led the withdrawal of Gambia from the ICC and was a renowned Jammeh loyalist. A few weeks earlier, the country's Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall Gaye had defected without much fanfare, wanting no part of Jammeh's intransigence.

The resignation of the ministers follows on the heels of calls by many of Gambia's Ambassadors for Jammeh to step down peacefully and respect the will of the peaceful people of his country.

Jammeh who has ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, surprisingly lost elections on December 1st 2016, after winning four consecutive elections. He had initially called the elections the fairest in the history of mankind and even briefly  accepted the results which declared coalition opposition candidate Adama Barrow, the clear winner. However, in characteristic fashion, Jammeh, after just about three days,  backtracked on his acceptance of the results, citing irregularities and called for fresh elections. The electoral commission remained adamant that the results were accurate, reflecting the will of the people and that the process had been totally free and fair.

A West African mediation group, comprising the leaders of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia had made a quick trip to Gambia to try and defuse the situation after the former military strongman refused to step down. The leaders, Buhari, Johnson-Sirleaf, Koroma, and Mahama, took the step of  listening to all the parties and the electoral commission.
After the visit, the leaders concluded that the results reflected the choice of the people and called on President Jammeh to step down. They also pledged to be in the Gambia on the 19th of January, where they would be attending the inauguration of the President elect Adama Barrow.

The West African leaders later released a communique indicating their resolve to remove the president by force of arms if it became necessary. They also set about establishing a standby force to kick Jammeh out of power if he remained intransigent.

A week later Jammeh had a long TV broadcast with a group of dubious characters calling themselves the African Bar Association, who claimed to be in the country to mediate the political impasse, but spent much time on the public broadcast praising the tyrant, much to the chagrin of the Gambian populace.

Emboldened by the lavish praise from the members of the so called African Bar Association, Jammeh launched into a nearly hour long tirade, accusing West African leaders of illegally trying to interfere into the internal affairs of a sovereign country. He accused the domestic opposition of voter intimidation which resulted in a low turn out of his supporters, accused the Western countries of a chronic colonial mentality, and accused the world of a conspiracy to remove him from power because he was unwilling to bow down to the wishes of the agents of neocolonialism.

Jammeh also vowed to meet any foreign intervention with the full force of the might of his less than 2000 man military and vowed that with God (Allah) being on his side, he was bound to come out victorious. He  further accused the West African leadership of political bias, saying he will no longer recognize their mediation efforts unless they were ready to concede to his demand for a legal challenge of the results followed by a rerun of the election.

Just a few days after the election were announced, Jammeh had bought some new vehicles for top military officers in the country and hastily promoted about 49 of them to senior ranks in a move that foreshadowed his backpedaling. The Head of the Country's military General Ousman Badjie, who had initially celebrated the victory of Adama Barrow, now pledged his allegiance to his boss and friend Jammeh, vowing to defend him against any foreign intervention.

However, it seems like Jammeh's military armor is beginning to crack. This week, about three of the promoted senior officers have defected to Senegal saying that they were not ready  to fight for Jammeh, but were instead on the side of the people of Gambia. One of the officers stated that Jammeh was just a very selfish man who only cared for himself and many soldiers in the Gambian military  also knew this. He vowed that over 90% of soldiers in the country were unwilling to fight for Jammeh but were ready to side with any intervention force in order to drive him from power. He said Jammeh would face the surprise of his life if he thought the army would stand by him in the case of external military intervention.

This week, Jammeh, knowing that his chances for hanging on to power peacefully are dwindling, and starting to doubt the resolve of the military to sacrifice their lives for him, he has suddenly decided to employ a cunning and new tactic.

On Tuesday the embattled president went on national TV and in a rather subdued tone stated that the current political impasse was a test of the faith of the Gambian people by Allah. He again went through his rather short list of election grievances, but said that he was ready to work with the political parties to find a peaceful way out of the impasse without any need for foreign interference. He noted that Gambians had always found solutions to their domestic problems without external intervention and believed that as God fearing people they would do so again.
He then appointed the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary General, Musa Jallow, as a "Mediator General" for the conflict with a mandate to ensure the public service remained neutral, to help convene a national meeting of stakeholders to the conflict so that all sides will be heard, and for Jallow to work with the Justice Minister and National Assembly to draft an amnesty bill, that would prevent any "witch hunt." Jammeh also issued an executive order preventing any arrests or prosecution for events related to the election period.

Jammeh did not however say what the ears of many Gambians were aching to hear; that he was ready to step down and handover to Adama Barrow on January 19th!

Jammeh, like most tyrants, eventually grow to believe that they can control destiny. A man with extreme love for power, this latest stunt by Jammeh is just  delaying tactics to buy him some time while he hopes the resolve of West African leaders for military intervention would weaken.
Jammeh knows that without military intervention, the people of his country are of a peaceful nature and will probably not come out on the streets and challenge his rule like the situation in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and other countries where citizens had stood up to tyrannical rulers. Jammeh knows that Gambians will mostly complain on social media and go into exile, while he finds a way to hang on to power.

The Gambian coalition should not have any part in Jammeh's bogus mediation tactics. They should continue to pressure the West African leaders to continue the current external mediation process or intervention by force if that becomes necessary. The coalition should know by now that Jammeh is only sincere when the cards are in his favor. He uses the name of Allah in a God fearing country to lend credence to his evil political machinations. Jammeh uses the name of Allah only for political convenience, but his actions show a power hungry despot, ready to murder in order to continue to enjoy the privilege of leadership.

Gambians should learn a lesson from President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. When Idi Amin of Uganda, another Jammeh like tyrant, made the catastrophic mistake of attacking Tanzania, Amin actually thought he was going to win. As the Tanzanian army swiftly captured large parts of Uganda, Amin called on his "brother" Nyerere for a peaceful resolution. Nyerere did not stop until Amin packed up and ran out of  the country for good.

Tyrants never negotiate in good faith, so it is pointless for the coalition to negotiate with Jammeh. Jammeh's period is over and it would be a mistake for the coalition to sit down for any negotiation.

As far as political conflict is concerned, there is honestly no conflict in Gambia. There was an election, it went on peacefully, and there was a clear winner. So where is the conflict that Jammeh is talking about? He is the only one creating the conflict by refusing to abide by the people's expressed desire for new leadership. 

Gambians should stop falling for Jammeh's bag of tricks. Twenty two years is too long to continue being led by the nose by a single individual.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to Stop WhatsApp from Clogging Your Phone Storage

WhatsApp is a very popular social media tool for sending pictures, videos and documents over even poor data networks. This makes WhatsApp extremely popular in third world countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where slow data connection speeds are currently the norm.

Unfortunately, WhatsApp by default is set to automatically download media content on to your phone, making the phone slow, unwieldy and sometimes causing it to freeze. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and find all sorts of audio and video content downloaded automatically on to your phone, especially if you belong to many WhatsApp group forums. Sierra Leoneans never ask your permission before subscribing you to their forums. We do not have a very formal culture.

However, unwanted audio and video media quickly fills the storage on your phone, and if you are in a country like Sierra Leone with not enough money for expandable storage, or only have a cheap knockoff Android Chinese phone, this can be a real problem. 

A very easy solution to this problem for those who know their phone's settings is to regularly delete downloaded content from the phone's storage. But there are many people who have phones and do not know how to navigate the settings. So for these people, a more practical solution will be to stop WhatsApp from downloading content onto the phone in the first place, or set up WhatsApp to only download content they are interested in. 

So how do you do this?

This advice is for phone users with Android Marshmallow, as that's the operating system (OS) I have on my Galaxy Note 4. It also assumes you have the latest version of WhatsApp capable of video calling.

1. Click on WhatsApp. At the far top corner of the App are three dots. Click on the dots.
2. You will see the following: New Group, New Broadcast, WhatsApp Web, Starred Messages, Status, Settings 
3. Click on Settings.
4. You will see the following: Account, Chats, Notifications, Data Usage, Contacts, About and Help.
5. Click on Data Usage.
6. You will see Media auto-download: When using mobile data/When connected on Wi-Fi
7. If you use mobile data click on When using mobile data. You will see checked boxes with: Photos, Audio, Videos, Documents.
8. If you do not want WhatsApp to download anything on to your phone, uncheck all the boxes. If you want only audio, check the audio box. I leave my audio box checked to get traditional music from Sierra Leone that somebody has shared.
9. If you use Wi-Fi follow the same steps.

I hope the steps are not difficult to follow and you can finally stop people from downloading all types of random and unfiltered content on to your phone. 

Unfortunately, as there are multiple versions of Android, the guidelines for your phone may be slightly different. So use your curiosity. 
Sheku Sheriff.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jammeh's Defiant New Year's Message

Yahya A. J. J Jammeh Babili Mansa
In a very defiant New Year's message to Gambians and the international community, Gambia's President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa has reiterated his total rejection of the call by ECOWAS leaders for him to step down peacefully and hand over to the president elect and eight party coalition candidate Adama Barrow on January 19th 2017.

In a rather paradoxical  opening statement, Jammeh stated that, " It has become a tradition that when we enter a new year, we as God fearing people renew our faith in Allah, our submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid Satanic temptations to do evil."
Gambian President Elect Adama Barrow

The beleaguered President then proceeded to completely deviate from this opening statement and launch into a summarized version of his decision to initially accept the results of the country's elections in which which he clearly lost the vote, only to backtrack several days later and announce that he totally rejected the results, he had annulled the election and was calling for a new round of voting under a new electoral commission.

Mr. Jammeh stated that he saw this as the only way out of the current political stalemate in the country.

Yahya Jammeh stated that all individuals and groups calling on him to step down, were dismissing the legitimacy of his change of position and his adherence to is oath to defend the Constitution by seeking redress in the Supreme court.
President for a Billion Years 

In reacting to the threats of the deployment of a Standby Military Force by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS in a bid to enforce the Gambian election results by military means as a last resort, Jammeh remained intransigent and vowed to defend Gambia to the last man.
Jammeh also said he no longer viewed members of the West African bloc as neutral players and was unwilling to cooperate with them, unless the spectre of military intervention was lifted and they accept his arguments regarding the fact that the recently conducted elections in the country were flawed and biased against him.

Jammeh repeated the statement that he was not a cheat and would not allow anyone to cheat him, but would be ready to concede to a rerun of the elections with a neutral independent electoral commission.  He repeated his decision to seek judicial redress and was standing by his decision to annul the results of the past election.
Gambia has not had a Supreme Court for about 18 months, due to the failure by the President to appoint members to the apex court. The opposition Gambian Transition Committee argued over the holidays that the hasty appointment of judges to the  Supreme Court, for the sole purpose of hearing the elections challenge brought by the president, was fishy and just a ploy to buy time. Their point was buttressed by the fact that members of Gambia Bar Association had accepted the results of the election and accepted the explanation of the Chief Electoral Commissioner that the initial error made during the compilation of the results were immediately rectified, the parties immediately notified and that these computation error did not in anyway affect the final outcome of a victory by the Coalition candidate Adama Barrow.
Jammeh however, points to his own investigations that revealed a pattern anomalies and also hinted at likely voter intimidation and the fact that many voters had "refused to vote." He continues questioning why about three hundred thousand eligible voters decided not to vote and still believed that if those voters had not stayed away, they would have voted for him.

The opposition however continues to question the veracity of such claims, asking why the President had not in the past questioned the validity of the results of past elections that had been declared in his favor, even though many people had stayed away.

The opposition also claims with some credence that many people had simply stayed away because they did not believe the President was capable of conducting free and fair elections and they were of the opinion that voting against Jammeh in Gambia was simply an exercise in futility.

Members of the Ghana Bar Association, a country whose President lost an election and was gracefully stepping down, appealed to lawyers and judges in the Gambia not to partake in Jammeh's election appeals charade.

Yahya Jammeh may be cleverly testing the determination of ECOWAS to engage in yet another military intervention in another country, believing that with time, member countries may start looking to other alternatives such as sanctions and other options that may prolong his stay in power. Already there are reports that Guinea is not in favor of a military intervention, but would rather prefer a negotiated settlement.

Jammeh could however be gambling dangerously. ECOWAS, unlike most regional groups, take military enforcement of its mandates very seriously. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast, military intervention had been used to remove unpopular leaders. Jammeh, by refusing to participate in ECOWAS led mediation efforts may be rejecting the only option that would provide him with a safe and honorable exit.

Some Gambians believe that Jammeh, given the heinous nature of some of his past his human rights abuses in the country, would simply not be willing to face the people as a civilian and has never contemplated a future without power. He vowed at one time to rule his small country for a billion years. Jammeh may be willing and ready to die for power just like his hero Muammar Gaddafi, a man he idolized.
Regardless of what happens, the clock is ticking for Jammeh and the next few weeks will likely determine his destiny. Unfortunately President Jammeh, the only good alternatives he has remain in the delusion that he could somehow defeat all the forces that would be arraigned against him.

The possibility of the 2000 man Gambian military defeating a West African military contigent would be nothing short of a miracle. However, Jammeh is a man who strongly believes in miracles and the occult. So he may go down believing in one more divine intervention on his behalf by Allah (SWT). We will just have to wait and see.

Sheku Sheriff- Segbwema Blogger (c) 2016