Assalamu alaikum/greetings again, I’ve not commented on Gambian news/politics/issues in a while, but I heard something via GRTS the other night that has been on my mind.
Whenever GRTS runs its “news” programming (which IMHO is worse than Fox News, and that is really saying something as IMHO Fox News is pretty bad), when they are running a story, say, about something that was donated or given to a particular community, or when they are talking about some sort of development project like the building of a road/school/hospital, etc., , inevitably, and it’s almost always inevitably (if said “journalist” wants to keep his/her job or not end up “detained” or worse), the story will weave around to how Great “President” Jammeh is, or how Gambians should continue to pray for the “President’s” long life, etc., etc.
Well, unfortunately, not even Islamic/religious coverage is safe from this sorta sycophancy. The other night, I happened to be in the room when someone was watching GRTS online, and let me tell you, it was all I could do not to grab my plate of food, run off into the other room, and finish watching the college basketball game that was currently on ESPN at the time, but I decided against it, as my food was almost finished, and I thought I could stomach whatever drivel was sure to come out of the GRTS “news” program. Anyway, so they were covering the various mawlid (celebration of the Prophet (peace be upon him’s) birthday) gatherings in the country, and it was OK, until the story got around to when the various imams heading said gatherings would say how President Jammeh had done so much for Islam in The Gambia, and/or how Gambians should continue to pray for President Jammeh, and for “peace” in The Gambia, etc., etc. And all I could think was, we can’t even have a religious gathering where, truthfully, we’re remembering and commemorating the life of someone who’s infinitely more greater than a mere human like Yahya Jammeh (who currently has a title so long that I can’t even remember all of the honorifics), I mean, can’t we leave Yahya Jammeh out of it for one night of remembrance of our Dear Prophet (and no I don’t mean “dear leader” Yahya Jammeh), as a certain supposedly annonymous poster on some of the online Gambian email lists likes to call him.
Allahu Akbar! And I say a thousand times Allahu Akbar! And Subhanallah to add to that! I was just completely disgusted! Yahya Jammeh shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence, book, encyclopedia, I mean, he shouldn’t even be even remotely mentioned when talking about anything related to Islam or its Final Prophet!
I can’t even begin to count the ways in which Jammeh has controveened all manner of Islamic principles, perhaps “disappearing” people and throwing them in pit latrines or “disappearing” them in such a way that their families have no idea what’s happened to them, or staging killings of military personnel to look like car accidents and somehow thinking the rest of us are just too stupid to realize that the evidence shows that it wasn’t no car accident. And yet you’ve got so-called “religious leaders” and per my interest, so-called “Muslim” ones at that, who’ll talk about how we should follow Islamic principles etc., and yet these same people are ready to clamor to get on TV and show how pious they are, and at the same time extol the so-called “virtues” of Yahya Jammeh.
If these were true religious leaders and pious people, they’d say to Jammeh’s face what needs to be said, i.e., that he’s an evil vile man, who’s killed untold numbers of people, who’s ruined countless numbers of people’s lives, and who is nowhere close to being anything remotely close to a good Muslim. That’s what they should be saying, especially as he’s hunting for witches and giving people all manner of concoctions for them to drink, making them senseless and killing some and injuring many. Or holding the Qur’an while he’s rubbing a so-called “AIDS cure concoction” all over women’s bodies. Oh, yeah, that’s really Islamic. Tell me where it says in Islam that just some man, who is not even medically qualified to do so, can come and rub all over a woman’s body, while holding the Qur’an no less, and call it a “cure”?
But no, many of these so-called religious leaders won’t do anything remotely close to telling Yahya the truth, because they’d rather be recognized or they’d rather be on TV, or they’d rather get whatever crumbs he throws out, whether it’s rice, sugar, ataya, a house, car, whatever. It makes me ashamed as a Muslim to see this kind of behavior. Especially from so-called “imams” and other religious leaders.
Anyway, sorry for the vent, but I just keep thinking how nothing is safe from Yahya Jammeh’s clutches, not even a Mawlid. And it makes me angry and sad, and leaves me wondering when will Gambia have their protests? I’ve been watching all of the protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, yesterday it was Egypt and Tunisia (well things still haven’t wrapped up there really) and today it’s Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. And the irony of Libya, considering how Gadafi has had his hands in all kinda conflict in West Africa, has surely not been lost on me.
Unfortunately, though, it’s going to be a long time coming, IMHO, before The Gambia has either a protest, a revolution, or a democracy. And Yahya can make himself king if he wants to, and there’ll be plenty of people ready to get on TV and sing his praises, all while the country falls apart around them, and even if he murders their whole entire family. And this is because not enough people are willing to stand up, come what may, and say that enough is enough. Because I truly believe that once people are no longer afraid, and once the fear and intimidation factor is removed, then it doesn’t take much, relatively speaking, to overthrow a regime. Because once the crumbs don’t matter, and the fear doesn’t work, and the various forms of intimidation and coercion and force that would normally supress an uprising no longer has any affect, well, you can guess what happens next, said ruthless dictators will have nowhere to go, except for another fellow dictatorship that’s willing to take them in, and that’s assuming they last that long.
But as long as you have a vocal majority of people who are willing to walk over their dead family members to get to the crumbs Jammeh doles out, and as long as you have a vocal majority of people who are willing to sing his praises, even over and above those that should be reserved for Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), and as long as the silent voiceless majority can’t or won’t speak up or otherwise make their opinions and views heard, then Jammeh will continue to disappear people, and murder people, and raid the nation’s coffers, and otherwise basically do whatever he wants, for as long as he wants.
I keep thinking of the saying that goes “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change their own souls”, and I truly believe this, and in the past few weeks, I’ve seen this in action. Even if you can make the argument that the majority of Gambians want Yahya Jammeh gone, sitting and praying for God to send someone to get rid of him, unfortunately, probably ain’t gonna work. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that what it’s gonna take to get rid of Jammeh is the same sorts of things it’s gonna take to get rid of Gadafi, or the monarchy in Yemen, or what it took to get rid of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. And no, it ain’t gonna be pretty, people will need to put everything on the line, including their lives, if they want Jammeh gone. And yeah, he may resort to some pretty violent and ruthless and merciless tactics to try to cling to power, even if it means trucking in some arms from Iran, or bringing in some of his Casamance rebel buddies to do the work that the Gambian Army may not be willing to do to their own people. But that should not come as any surprise to anyone, because that is what dictators do, especially desperate ones. However, Just like Gadafi in Libya, his friend Jammeh can’t kill and imprison everyone. At the end of the day, Jammeh either can leave the country or step down, because reform is off the table as he’s had plenty of time to do that and has not. And if enough people stand up to him, even if many of them lose their lives, he’ll have no choice but to step down, if he indeed wants to live, and yeah I know that’s a bit strong.
The problem is that I don’t see enough people on the ground, who are willing to stand up to him – yet. Inshallah this may one day change. But I just don’t see this happening in the foreseeable future. So in the meantime, GRTS will be replete with all kinds of propaganda pieces about how Jammeh is doing thus and such for the country, all the while he’s actually ruining it, and people will be all ready to sing his praises all while he’s murdering their friends, family and colleagues, all for a few crumbs and perhaps a job that he’s probably going to fire them from anyway, and in the end they’ll probably end up in Mile 2 prison or killed for their trouble anyway.
I just can’t watch anymore. All I can do is make dua, and watch how the people in other parts of the world have foregone all manner of crumbs and other inducements and have said enough is enough to tyranny and injustice. Today it’s Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and who knows where else next. Inshallah tomorrow maybe it’ll be The Gambia.