As Gambians remember the restoration of democracy, a milestone realized in January of 2017, country’s leading historian said former ruler Yahya Jammeh will be remembered by history as a “bad loser”.
Ceesay said thanks to the actions of the former ruler, January now holds the record of the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the small nation.
“The month of January was uniquely infamous in that no time in our past, not even the Soninke Marabout Wars or Kukoi Samba Sanyang’s coup, has so much Gambians fled this country. According to the UNCHR figures, By January 20 over 45, 000 Gambians have fled to Senegal,” Ceesay said.
“This excludes those who are internally displaced and this is in tens of thousands who have left urban areas for rural areas. I think Jammeh has done a lot of disservice to his honor, his reputation and his place in history by allowing the impasse to happen…”
Ceesay, curator at the Gambia National Museum and also a history lecturer at the University of the Gambia, said January was also the first time in 38 year foreign military troops intervened in the Gambia thanks to the refusal of Jammeh.
The first time the Gambia witnessed an intervention force was in 1981 following the Kukoi Samba Sanyang rebellion.
Ceesay said Jammeh’s 22 years in power will prominently be analyzed by historians in the light of his rights abuses and the political impasse.
“History will judge him by the terror, uncertainty and anxiety that his refusal to exit from power has created. And I think because of that history will see him largely as a loser. We are bound to judge him by what he did between December 9 to January 20,” Ceesay said.
He described the political impasse a “silent war” that created “tension and divisions” among Gambians along ethnic, religious and regional lines.
“So the country was also at war with her neighbors. We have heard the former president claiming ECOWAS has declared war against The Gambia,” he added.
However, the historian also said January will also be remembered as the month in which the Gambia liberated herself from the clutches of tyranny.
“But the month of January will also linger in the minds of Gambians for a far better reason in that it was in this month that democracy was restored,” he said.
Ceesay said December 1 should be a public holiday because, on that day, Gambians surprised everybody including the international community.
He said the state of emergency that Gambian lawmakers have also imposed on the population to prolong Jammeh’s stay in power was a serious disservice to the nation.