When President Adama Barrow received the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) report, he was visibly agitated at the notion that he was not likely to implement the recommendations made thereof. In reacting to that widely held notion, he touted himself as being more interested in the TRRC than anyone else because he set up the commission. In the same breath, he was quick to cite the case of Rwanda and said that what happened in Rwanda was much worse but they were able to “bury the hatchet” and are now living together peacefully. Insightful isn’t it?
In that statement alone, we can conclude that the six month constitutional minimum given for the government to review the report is being adhered to as a mere formality, the Barrow government has already made up its mind on what route to take; “reconciliation” (used loosely).
Do you need further evidence? As we all advocate for justice for the victims of Jammeh’s tyranny and accountability for the perpetrators, we know for a fact that Barrow has a proven track record of utter failure when it comes to the implementation of recommendations served by commissions whose set up he assented to himself. Leading up to the elections, everyone was almost certain that nothing will come out of the TRRC recommendations. In fact, some pundits openly supported the delay in the handing over of the report because they were certain Barrow would not act on it in good faith. Not with Barrow’s newfound love for everything APRC. At a time when he made no commitments or political promises to anyone, Barrow failed to do anything about the Faraba Commission report, the Janneh Commission report, and actively sabotaged the entire third republic project by flushing the draft constitution down the drains through his minions at the National Assembly.
Now that he has openly declared his loyalty to Fabakary Tombong Jatta and promised to “never betray him”, we can bet our bottom dollars that the TRRC recommendations will be selective at best. Fabakary Tombong Jatta and his ilk are concerned about nothing more than the exoneration of their god Jammeh. That, and of course feeding their families off of looted state resources. Now that he is one of Barrow’s most trusted allies, you can make a pretty good guess as to what his advice to Barrow will be regarding the entire TRRC project.
We know people like OJ have long been advocating for a “burying of the hatchet” by compensating victims and moving on because in The Gambia, “we are all related” and “Jammeh alone is not to blame.” He too, like Fabakary Tombong Jatta has Barrow’s ear and a trusted ally. Lest we forget, failed military leaders like former Chief of Defense Staff Lang Tombong Tamba, under whose watch the Junglers roamed free and committed atrocities is now being openly loyal to Barrow and a chief political propagandist.
We had an opportunity to be certain that past injustices will be adequately addressed. Lawyer Darboe, leader of the UDP declared, prior to the elections, that he doesn’t care if he lost votes because of it, but he was committed to making sure past injustices were rectified and justice served to those who deserve it as recommended by the TRRC. But the fear of UDP and the perceived Mandinka hegemony that would result from a UDP mandate as peddled by Barrow and his henchmen was more adverse than the almost certain fact that justice would be delayed further for the victims of Jammeh’s tyranny.
In ratcheting up that fear, even declared members of other political parties hijacked their party forums to lobby for a protest vote against UDP, not in favor of their party candidate but for Adama Barrow. Yes, shocking, isn’t it? “We know our man is the right guy, but he will not win, so to stop a UDP win, we should vote for Adama Barrow.”
That’s the level of mindless sentiment fueled nonsense we saw even from our so called ‘educated’ and exposed compatriots.
The sad thing is, in all the charges leveled against UDP, there was no issue-based challenge. No one charged the leadership of incompetence or deficiency in moral character. None of them that led the charge in peddling that fear ever challenged the UDP manifesto, 5 Point Agenda or the policy points raised thereof. That is sad because with education and exposure, one expects real issues to be the line that divides political views and not hateful and bigoted sentiment.
But unfortunately for us, the irrational fear for what a UDP government may or may not be, overshadowed reasonable judgement.
The trade off is that we disregard past actions of Barrow and what his divisive rhetoric may yield and rewarded him with votes. As we await the Supreme Court’s decision on the petition challenging the outcome of the elections, the declared winner announced by the IEC is Adama Barrow.
The millions spent, the hundreds of hours of emotional ordeal on a national scale, the re-traumatization of reliving and narrating painful memories under the glare of television camera’s from around the world that the victims had to go through, will all be for naught because we chose resentment and bitterness over reason and good sense.
The memory of elderly statesmen like MC Cham breaking down in front of the world as they narrate their ordeals at the hands of military adventurists young enough to be their grandchildren will stay with us all forever, and when our grandchildren watch those memories preserved on camera, we can “proudly” tell them that when it mattered, nothing was done to wipe the victims’ tears because we consciously chose a man we knew was not even remotely inclined to bring perpetrators to book in service of his self-serving political project, and we aided him in that project to the conscious detriment of the victims.
Why change a working formula? Barrow and his minions now know that their naked shamelessness, inaction, past failures and divisive rhetoric was not enough to have them rejected at the polls, in fact they got rewarded politically, so why change it?
This is the price of resentment. Nelson Mandela put it best; “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it kills your enemy.”
For some then, if they have any shame, this should be the end of the line in their victim rights advocacy because they sold out and openly celebrated Barrow’s “win” knowing he is not sympathetic to the victims, and with his new breed of “advisers”, he will be more at ease in taking the “reconciliation” route. The victims can wait a little longer I guess.