Is “Dembo By Force” Oknonkwo’s Reincarnation Things  Fall Apart?

Humanity is one strong chain of connected connectors. A passage abroad tells lessons here. Dembo Sankaranka  Bojang, known as “Dembo By Force,” did not get that paradise of passage by selling his principles to cheap power. 

Even in his political party, he had no loyalty to sell to diabolical men. He held a senior executive position, a founding member, and the National President of the party he and his colleagues baptised in 1996.

He was loud and bold in rebuking and rejecting what he saw as the incompatibility principles. And a deep vein of political nativism. He never used his afternoon to abuse President Yahya Jammeh and, at night, sneak into the State House to dine with him. 

He did not defect from the Pacific to the Atlantic to appease the small gods of money and power.”Dembo By Force,” a political primer and Godfather converts Gambians and baptised and formed a new political party, the National People’s Party( NPP) in readiness for 2021 Presidential elections.

“Dembo By Force” moved through life as a true maverick, standing up for others against injustice and capping it with standing up for himself against the arch of power addicted politicians masquerading as democrats and patriots.

Dembo Bojang, his voyage in politics, especially in the opposition and in Parliament, was breathtaking. He was always willing to fight his party on issues of choosing patriotism over nationalism. He made himself count when it mattered most, embracing a new generation of the country.

Chinua Achebe tells us presumable facts on this Sugoi man. Okonkwo is the greatest fighter in Umuofia land. Dembo Bojang, commonly known as “Dembo By Force,” and Halifa Sallah were the two greatest fighters during the 2016 Cocktail  Coalition that ended President Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years of malevolent dictatorship.

Okonkwo had been exiled for seven years in Mbanta land and his time to come back home came. Before he had set off for the journey, Okonkwo ‘planned and imagined’ for a very homogeneous return in which his people back at home would receive him and get to know that the ‘Greatest’ fighter was coming back home but what he never knew is that times had changed and things had taken a new twist.

Dembo Bojang “Dembo By Force” has always been known as an idealist and pragmatism in politics and policymaking. He is an excellent and reverent son of Bakau, his political base, and a well-respected politician in the Gambia. 

Politics has changed, and he is a tamed man and a senior citizen acting as a Godfather to President Adama Barrow. People are demanding necessary changes in the laws to align themselves with prevailing realities. 

People want to smoke out President Adama Barrow on the helm of the Presidency and replace him, but Dembo By Force wants President Barrow to have another five years term in the Presidency so that he is not smoked out.

On arriving in Umuofia, he was only received by Obiereka, his friend, who took care of his Yam seeds back at home; he never got the enthusiastic reception he had imagined. 

On his stay, he got to know how the Whitemen had encroached the land, brought a new religion, thoughts of fighting them embedded in him & if indeed nobody else would offer to help him, he will kill ‘whites’ by himself. He failed miserably. Will Dembo By Force succeed in retaining President Barrow when Oknonwo fails.

It is not easy to write about Dembo Bojang, known as “Dembo By Force,” and praise him and not come out as Baba Jalinding. His sycophancy deifies Dembo Bojang embarrassingly, even as he knows he is a mortal of common fears and normal faults. It is not easy to praise “Dembo By Force” without descending to sycophancy.

It is also not easy to write about Dembo By Force and criticise him without coming out as Biyi Bandele and many others. They think statecraft is an art or science with definite rules for holding elections and preserving friendships. It is not easy to criticize him without descending to vitriolic proclamations of the trivial type. 

“Dembo By Force” who needs no introduction. He was a vital member of that axis of political activism. Alone and aged now, he is still by the hearth, keeping the fire burning.” Dembo By Force” fights with an indomitable spirit, his back to the wall.

When labour supremo, the brazen, nebulous, and indefatigable Honourable Dembo   Bojang called “Dembo By Force” prophesied that President Adama Barrow would be in the ballot in 2016  as the standard-bearer of the main opposition party and 2016 Coalition, ordinary minds ranted and raved.

However, discerning minds went into top gear. Prophets are “caused to know,” and when this happens, the prophet must “speak out” the truth not just about the prediction, but the causes and cures.

Parallels:  Dembo By Force has a parallel in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart – Okonkwo’s star character. Biyi Bandele, a novelist, playwright, and writer for fiction, theatre, journalism based the United Kingdom in an introduction to the book, indicates that the novel opens with perhaps the most celebrated, indeed the most famous opening paragraph in the history of African literature. 

“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on tangible personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen, he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who, for seven years, was unbeaten from Umuofia to Mbaino. 

He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. It was this man that Okonkwo threw in a fight which the older men agreed was one of the fiercest since the founder of their town engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights.

Growing up:  Okonkwo grew up in a patient and conservative, yet flexible and accommodating society whose “Oracle never sends it out to do battle in an unjust cause.” Okonkwo, its most revered son, has a will that stands in stark contrast to his society’s forbearing nature. He is headstrong and inflexible, short-tempered, and uncompromising. However, Umuofia venerates him.

The nine villages idolise him; Okonkwo is a maverick in a Libertarian Society. It is this potent brew that ironically unravels the clan and fells Okonkwo. Does Okonkwo represent vintage “Dembo By Force” at his very best?

Okonkwo was cut out for great things. He was still young, but he had won fame as the most outstanding wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer, had two barns full of yams, and married his third wife. He had taken two titles to crown it all and had shown incredible prowess in two intertribal wars. 

Thus, although Okonkwo was still young, he was the greatest man in his time. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered.

As the elders said, “if a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings.” Okonkwo had washed his hands, and so he ate with kings and elders.

Is  Honourable Dembo By Force Bojang not one of the famous sons of the land? Is he not rich? Is he not a man of titles at the tender age under fifty – almost four decades as Parliamentarian and National President of the leading United Democratic Party ( UDP) also Chairman 2016 Chairman that ended 22 years of dictatorship. 

Has he not helped win the 2016 Coalition in both Presidential and  General elections? Did he not become the senior advisor and double as  Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs? Does he not eat with kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, and elders of this world?

Fear and weakness: However, beneath the steel demeanour, Okonkwo’s life was dominated by fear, failure, and weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and magic; the fear of the forest, and the forces of nature, malevolent; red in tooth and claw. 

Okonkwo’s fears were more outstanding than these. It was not external. His fear lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself.

Does Honourable “Dembo By Force” nurse deep fears in his life? Is it true that he hates the parables of the prodigal son and impertinent persons? That he considers them the hallmarks of failure and weakness? Men with deep-seated fears are bound to hurtle to tragedy. Paranoid tendencies in leaders produce the dictators of this world.

I “Looking at a king’s mouth,” said an old man, “one would think he never suckled his mother’s breast”. He was talking about Okonkwo, who had risen so suddenly from great poverty and misfortune to be one of the lords of the clan. The older man bore no ill will towards Okonkwo. Indeed, he respected him for his industry and success. 

However, he was struck as most people were, by Okonkwo’s brusqueness in dealing with less successful men.

The oldest man had sternly warned that those whose palm kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble. 

However, it was not true that Okonkwo’s palm kernels had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit. He had cracked them himself. Anyone who saw him struggles against poverty and misfortune could not say he had been lucky. If ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo and Gambia’s “Dembo By Force.”

Okonkwo had achieved fame as the most outstanding wrestler in the land; that was not luck. His chi, or personal god, was right. The Igbo people have a proverb that when a man says yes, his chi says yes too. 

Okonkwo said yes very firmly, so his chi must have agreed. And not only his chi but also his clan too, because it judged a man by his hands’ work. 

Again this is vintage  Dembo By Force. He is someone well respected and admired more than anyone he knew in the Gambia. Dembo’s character has dominated the image and perception of him. 

His family, political opponents, and political heritage, his politics, his endurance over the Gambia’s tribal politics, and admiration is a phenomenon of Dembo By Force.

Big dreams: Okonkwo’s life had been ruled by an incredible passion – to become one of the clan’s lords. That had been his most prominent dream. 

Moreover, he had all but achieved it. His vision was to rebuild his compound on a more magnificent scale. He planned to build a giant barn than he had before, and he would build huts for two new wives. 

Then he would show his wealth by initiating his sons in the ozo society. Only really great men in the clan were able to do this. Okonkwo saw the high esteem in which he would be held, and he saw himself taking the highest title in the land.

Every day when he wakes up, does the Presidential advisor see himself as the Kingmaker and Godfather to President Adama Barrow—lifting high, the sacred instruments of power amid pomp and pageantry? 

Does he fancy inspecting the guard of honor mounted by the Gambia Armed Forces? Attending state banquets and mounting the stairs of the presidential jet. Why does everyone admire “Dembo By Force”? Because he is a leader who knew how to argue and has a vision for the Gambia.


For Okonkwo, betrayal came without warning. In that brief moment, the world seemed to stand still waiting in utter silence. The men of Umuofia were merged into the mute backcloth of trees and giant creepers, waiting. 

However, Umuofia had broken into tumult instead of action at the very hour of need for Okonkwo. He discerned fright in the tumult, and he had to chart a course of his own. Okonkwo hanged himself. 

Obierika, who had been gazing steadily at his friend’s dangling body, ferociously burst “that man was one of the greatest men in Umofia. You drove him to kill himself, and now he will be buried like a dog…” He could not say any more. His voice trembled and choked his words.

The story of this man, Honourable “Dembo By Force” Bojang, who reigned for four decades in politics without presidential ambition, would do an exciting reading. 

Historians, sociologists, ethnographers, anthropologists, ichthyologists, ornithologists, and theologists could almost write a whole chapter on him in the books they plan to write. 

Perhaps not a whole chapter but a good paragraph at any rate. There was so much else to include in their work, and one must be firm in cutting out details.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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