America turned a new chapter on January 20th, 2021 with the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America. It is fair to say that the world watched as he took his oath of office and delivered his inaugural speech. For some of us, it was a day filled with moments of reflection and wishes; wishes that we in the developing world can learn and adopt a thing or two from this imperfect union striving daily to achieve a more perfect union.
In his inaugural speech, one line stuck out; “to heal, we must remember.” Every media outlet picked that line up and elaborated on what it meant and how much such healing is needed in a nation divided along political, economic and racial fault lines and ravaged by a pandemic. Following that maiden speech with a visit to the tomb of the unknown soldier speaks volumes.
America remembers her past, pays tribute to her founders and successive generations that bequeathed to them a nation they are proud of, but above all America honors the sacrifice of those who sacrificed for the greater good. Coming home to The Gambia, it is disheartening that we are currently witnessing the tearing down of one another of our political leaders all of whom deserve our honor, respect and celebration for their sacrifice for country, mostly.
When I heard Hon. Sidia Jatta say “kulu kang sumunaa” in reference to Darboe challenging the constitutionality of the terms of the agreement that brought about Coalition 2016, which in their opinion is to blame for the break-up of the coalition, I shook my head and said to myself here we go angain!
The phrase “kulukang sumunaa” literally means if you pee on your rug, you’ll get soaked sitting in your own urine. It’s an adage that could be translated as you’ll live to witness the consequences of your action, but because of the phraseology, it is inappropriate to direct it towards an elder, and I’d like to believe Hon. Jatta knows that.
I shook my head at such utterance because I knew that was too low a blow and it would invite a response equally low or even lower, may be not from Darboe but his supporters. Whatever response would forthcoming regarding the whole interview would be overshadowed by that statement and would factor into the response. The strong response from Hon. Darboe was no less than expected.
“Jutunaya” also comes about as a consequence of one’s actions and in essence expresses a lack of respect or withdrawal of respect where one existed. It is not a pleasant choice of words either to use as a way of expressing that you’ve lost all respect for someone (Hon. Jatta in this case).
Four years later, we are still hung on the issue of Coalition 2016, to what end? No one knows except the journalists who can’t seem to move past it. Remembering the past to learn from mistakes and avoid them in the future should be the only motivation for keeping the spotlight on past events. Don’t get me wrong, Coalition 2016 and the events around it will forever remain relevant, but as far as we know, there is no coalition talks taking place currently and no plans have been communicated to that effect either. If the current political parties decide they want to coalesce for 2021, then they must draw on the lessons of 2016 to forge a better coalition, but there are no such public plans.
Hon. Jatta, like Hon. Darboe both gave a lot for their country, dedicated much of their lives to public service and continue to do so. Although differences of opinion and differences in approach to addressing shared problems are inevitable, it should never degenerate to such levels of personal attacks. But I guess this is what you get when you keep beating a dead horse to no meaningful end. That last part directed to the media fraternity
As far as Coalition 2016 is concerned, each side has made up their minds on who to blame and each citizen has equally made up their minds, we are at a point where we will have to agree to disagree and let historians keep account. There is no new information coming out, not that its needed anyway, and the fact that the citizens keep getting left in some sort of suspense as if there is more information that could be revealed but will be kept secret for now is frankly insulting to us. There is no national security issue or state secret to reveal if the whole story is told on what went wrong and all the facts brought out once and for all. But it was Jatta this time, next time we will need to hear from Sallah; then a follow up with Fatty would only be fair and then we must hear from Tambajang and Jallow; but Darboe too has to have a say. In the midst of that back and forth, new charges are leveled, new accusations made, new claims requiring counter claims and on and on and on it goes. It is exhausting!
The Coalition 2016 achieved its main agenda; pool all the votes cast against Jammeh in one camp if there will be any chance at defeating him. It worked; everything else after that only speaks to the potential the Coalition held for a divided Gambia, a beautiful idea with very beautiful prospects. It did not deliver on those potentials but it succeeded in achieving its main goal of uprooting Jammeh, let’s not lose sight of that by focusing too much on what could’ve been.
We may disagree on the best strategy to move The Gambia forward, but let us recognize, honor and appreciate the sacrifices made by those who sacrificed and stop pitting personalities against one another for our amusement. I hope the leaders rise above that too and look forward.