Last year, the political landscape of Gambia as we know it changed forever. The defeat of the 22 years leadership of Jammeh in the December 1 polls became real and the masses surged on the streets of urban and rural Gambia to celebrate the end of what was known far and wide as the reign of terror and fearful silence.
It was a glorious one week of hugs, tears of joy and a thousand many things that manifested what freedom looks like. Then it was over, the festive moods turned into something of fear and dread when the incumbent president decided to reject the results of the elections.
From that announcement onwards, Gambians have faced a plethora of wild and scary possibilities: from a coup speculation to the re-installment of Jammeh without regard for due process. At least one of those speculations came to life with the arrests of people wearing the #GambiaHasDecided shirts. Ordinary, everyday people going about their normal businesses picked up and ushered into unknown locations.
As an activist who’s being part of the struggle against tyranny and oppression in this country, #GambiaHasDecided as a slogan, movement and campaign came in handy as we all needed a mass, popular movement to effect the change of regime in trying times like this. The movement which started as a hashtag on social media quickly evolved into a movement on the ground with billboards, conferences, and t-shirts. Its buildup came in just when the fire of organized activity was dying out after the elections.
But what we are witnessing in these crackdowns on innocent people is the last straw of a man who has no regard for human expression whatsoever. He has been scared of efforts on the parts of ordinary citizens speaking out against him. Democracy is a nightmare for him insomuch as it is a conception he now wants to use against the will of the people.
In all places and climes, oppressors have always been fearful of the day when the oppressed wake up to the call of freedom. The day they cease to be sheep led to the slaughter house and are taking charge of their own destiny; Jammeh is seeing that happen right in front of him and it irks him and he will do anything to return Gambians to being that sheep he so well tamed and made docile.
The unlawful arrests of two people wearing the shirts and the breaking of billboards with the message of the Gambian people are the ultimate show of cowardice that Jammeh has exhibited and rightly shows his colors and as to why Gambians voted him out. The utter disregard for the lives, blood, tears and honor of Gambians has been going on too long for it to become a loved reality all over again.
The #GambiaHasDecided activists are now sitting at the borderline of freedom, on the very edge of life. Simply put: these are really volatile times because the darkest part of the night comes just before dawn, the climax of all phenomena comes right before the end, likewise oppression is most tense right at the crumbling point. We are witnessing the remnants of the oppressive regime.
It’s going to be a long way to the inauguration with these events happening but as always the will of the people is the true face of power and their will have been asserted and there is no going back. No foully constituted supreme court, no barrage of bullets, no tearing down of the peoples’ innocence will stop democracy from being established and a popular one at that.
Alieu Bah: Immortal X is a writer, activist and avid reader. He loves a good cup of coffee and good books.