The Gambia has been set free from oppression, political repression and tyranny. The people have liberated themselves once again on February 18 not through the spilling of the blood of patriots but through a peaceful change of government.
On February 18, colonialism ended in The Gambia. The British hand over our country peacefully to our founding fathers: Sir Dawda Jawara, Rev. John Colley Faye and Garba Jahumpa.
Gambia enjoyed a long democracy and became the champion of human rights in Africa under President Dawda Jawara. It was the birthplace of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and home to its commission.
This freedom that Gambians enjoyed during the first three decades after independence was stolen by Yahya Jammeh. He came to power through a bloodless coup but the two decades of his reign that followed was not as bloodless.
From being one of Africa’s human rights champion, The Gambia became its biggest abuser.
Jammeh maimed, tortured, killed and kidnapped his opponents, journalists, activists and anyone perceived to be his enemy.
Freedom, justice and the rule of law became a tale. There was intimidation and the people lived in fear.
There was at least a dozen attempted coups to oust Jammeh and restore the country’s lost glory and international repute. The last of which was born out of frustration in the U.S.
Gambian knew they were on their own in their fight to end dictatorship just like they did with their independence.
On December 1, they headed to the polls and voted out Jammeh in favor of a political novice, Adama Barrow. Although Jammeh first accepted defeat, he quicky rescinded his decision nearly throwing the country into a civil war.
Regional forces intervened and he fled to exile in Equatorial Guinea, another country with trademarks of his regime: corruption, repression and human rights abuse.
Barrow was sworn-in on January 19 and inaugurated on The Gambia’s independence day on February 18. During this period, the air of freedom was blowing across the Gambia.
The censored press is doing its work more freely, citizens are speaking out, political prisoners were freed, the rule of law is upheld, protests took place and even a new political party birthed.
Gambians have been emancipated once again!