A little known real estate developer in The Gambia shocked the world in an election victory like a well-known real estate developer in the United States.
Adama Barrow like Donald Trump went from an estate agent to President defying all odds against the establishment. Both never held political office. For Barrow, it was against an eccentric and brutal dictator in one of the world’s most undemocratic nations.
Before 263,515 marbles spoke in his favor, no one heard of Barrow. His name only came up two months ago.
Barrow is not anything like Trump. He promises democratic reforms, strong institutions, presidential term limits, freedom and liberty for the people and the media, reinstating the country back to the Commonwealth and the International Criminal Court and economic advancement.
Trump is a bigot, fascist, racist, sexist and unlike his win, Barrow’s victory gives the world the much-needed win for democracy.
The opposition trumped Jammeh and clintonized him. They surprisingly and unexpectedly took back their country and deleted Mr. Jammeh’s name from the list of Africa’s longest serving dictators.
President Yahya Jammeh was as confident of winning in a landslide like Hillary Clinton. He even refused to accept that he was campaigning and never mentioned “vote for me” in any of his campaign stops.
If you know Jammeh, you would have thought Trevor Noah was trying to compare Trump to him when he showed a picture of Trump as an African dictator on his Daily Show.
Jammeh would say anything and claims to even have an herbal cure AIDS. Yes, it sounds as ridiculous as Trump calling climate change a hoax. But that is Jammeh. When Trump won U.S. elections, I was not as worried. I knew the U.S. was a democracy and there was separation of power. I have had my own a worse Trump for 22-years in a country where his words were more supreme than the constitution.
Jammeh was in control of the executive, the parliament, and the judiciary. He appoints and fires judges and cabinet members without parliamentary approval. Parliamentarians from his ruling party lose their seat once they are expelled from the party.
But Barrow said this would change. There are high expectations of the president-elect to build strong democratic institutions, establish an independent judiciary, stamp out corruption, fix the battered economy and ensure that rights are guaranteed and secured.
Six years into President Jammeh’s rule, Barrow left The Gambia for the UK. He worked as a security guard at a department store while in college getting a degree to become a realtor. He started his real estate firm in 2006, Majum Real Estate, the year that opposition parties failed to form a coalition, leaving many Gambians heartbroken.
He rose to become the presidential hopeful for the main opposition UDP party after its leaders were arrested in April and May and jailed for three years for taking part in an “unauthorized” protest.
Barrow was born barely two days before The Gambia gained independence from Great Britain in February 1965; three months older that outgoing President Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow wins were influenced by the youths like that of Barack Obama. Most of them were the first-time voters frustrated about the economic decline and the deaths of their friends crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
With the top priorities of reviving the economy and ending rights abuses, Barrow understands the frustration of the young people, having been a young immigrant himself. He understands their appeal for Europe that has made Gambians the third largest arrival of migrants crossing the world’s most dangerous border.