It is not easy to write about Lamin Waa Juwara, known as Mbaroadi, and praise him and not come out as Jali Bamba. His sycophancy deifies Mbaroadi embarrassingly, even as he knows he is a mortal of common fears and normal faults. It is not easy to praise Mbaroadi without descending to sycophancy.

It is also not easy to write about Lamin Waa Juwara (Mbaroadi) and criticise him without coming out as  Dr. Lamin J. Darboe, Foday Samateh, Ebou Jallo, and many others who think statecraft is an art or science with definite rules as the holding of elections and the preservation of friendships.

It is not easy to criticise him without descending to vitriolic proclamations of the trivial type. Lamin Waa Juwara, who needs no introduction. He, was a vital member of that axis of activism. Alone and aged now, he is still by the hearth, keeping the fire burning. 

Mboroadi fights with an indomitable spirit, his back to the wall. Defeat is for those who accept it. For most parts of his life, Mbaroadi is either teaching or in detention or on the streets fighting injustice or by his table under his Mango tree in his Brikama residence. 

He is surrounded by his disciples, giving them lectures and civic activism about the Gambia and how to save it from Kleptocratic rule under Yahya Jammeh. In the daily newspaper headlines in the Gambia, he engaged the present and the future in a fearless gaze. 

The man, Mbaroadi, belonged to an iconic cast of resilient rights defenders who wove his affection for the good of the Gambia in personal adversity. 

He opposed evil, never made excuses for failure in governance. For this, Mbarodi was always in and out of jail all prisons, most times, Mile II Central Prisons, Janjanbureh prisons, and other detention centres countrywide. 

Waa Juwara’s engagement in the Second Liberation struggle was not about individuals or a family, even though some persons’ heroic roles should be acknowledged. 

Many people died, lost their jobs, liberty, and limbs, all for that struggle, not to mention those who suffered untold persecutions and deprivations. 

What is needed is an action that will touch every hero and heroine of the 2016 Coalition revolution (most of who are unknown), through genuine democratic engagements, that will usher in precise fiscal, resource control, electoral reforms, good governance, eradication of poverty and joblessness, holistic restructuring and fundamental constitutional amendments, all to be achieved through enduring legislation. 

That is the genuine aspiration of Waa Juwara. The common man has felt upon his back the whip of oppression; to serve the purpose and he spilled his blood upon every historic struggle; he suffered the cruelties of political intolerance; the sweat of his brow is an intellectual property doctrine of democracy in the Gambia.

Lamin Waa Juwara who has the proper education and had in earlier life argued with America’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz and challenged intellectually the powerhouse Yahya Jammeh’s cabinet of seasoned civil and public servants also the cream of the Gambia’s intellectual prostitutes and many others of objective reputations, I will write about Lamin Waa Juwars giving him what is due to him and denying him those accolades that should rightly be reserved for saints and those who benefit from positive human testimonies often considered as decorum in the face of death.

Some philosophers say life is a race between what you have and what may yet come. Others insist there is no race in life, that everyone has a measured step to take towards meeting their assigned destiny. Whichever is correct here, the truth is that life is a journey. 

For some, it is a long, winding trek; for others, it is a flight, some straight, some with stopovers and connecting flights. Moreover, you ask: To where? Ultimately, all of us will land  – our ports of embarkation and disembarkation of political life and private life.

I met Mbaroadi, who is hard to write about a few times in his years in politics and in public life. Those very few informal meetings were enough for one to form a solid opinion on this politician who could talk – and he was never afraid to talk. 

Sometimes, he talked himself into real trouble and strolled off unperturbed. You looked at him and pitied him. Even in terrible storms, he must crack jokes and smile and laugh. If there were no enemies to whip with costly vibes, he would turn the dissing homewards. 

“They say I talk, but I am a bona fide Mbarodi man from Niamina.” He said this at an occasion, and you could not really fault his code. Niamna people would say whatever is in their mouths, their own way, even if the roof is on fire.

Lamin Waa Juwara is an original activist who never took his mouth to the washerman. He was his own man. He was not a perfect man; he made mistakes, some very unnecessary. 

However, he did very many good things which should make him evergreen, unforgettable. Lamin Waa Juwara will always be remembered for his defining moments involved acts of compromise, pragmatism, and reconciliation with his fiercest rival. All agreed he could be severe, not autocratic, and stubborn. 

By one count displayed flexibility and magnanimity to serve in Yahya Jammeh’s cabinet. “To err is human.; to forgive divine”. Mbarodi encourages reconciliation and fraternity and never believed in divided and fragmented Gambia.

Lamin Waa Juwara is a good man from Niamina who held nothing back. He was our excellent friend of private media and independent-minded journalists. We did not start as friends. There was a mountain of unsmiling ice between his part of the ocean and the Independent. 

There were several standoffs, both sides sizing up each other. There were real tense moments, even the exchange of hostile correspondence. He later realised why we were and why the Independent could not let a politician talk and roam freely. 

Then, gradually, the ice thawed. He told us very many things that only a friend would tell as he helped strike down conspiracies of dark politics aimed at killing the Gambia’s most vibrant newspaper. We understood him; he understood us. The rest is history. We are his friend, a staunch supporter of freedom of the press.

If Mbarodi has come of age in his contribution, inevitable apparent failures of his are not approached perpendicularly but approached in an asymptotic and shy endeavor. 

Yes, Mbaroadi reached an age when political appointments to high office are possible for people with proper education, valid training, and proven experience. 

Thus, it is not easy to criticise Lamin Waa Juwara (Mbaroadi) without safeguarding certain positions and actuating prudent rationalisations for secret motives.

I am not alone expecting a payslip when Waa Juwara, another founding father of the Second Liberation, the Nation come to an agreement ending kleptocratic rule and despotism. 

Yes, I know Waa Juwara is a repository of so many ambitions, and in so many ways, he is also frustration with Godfathers. Many people think he will harvest some good, but a good number also hopes the whale should swallow him for good.

However, I will write about him and hope that in praising him, I will not fall to Jali Bamba’s level of the tongue that wants to keep bread and the mind that has no other alternative. I will not implicate Hamat Bah and Fatoumatta Tambajang Jallow and Mai Fatty in stoical pragmatism of the selfish type, which absolves their consciences from naming thieves, but instead helps them capture power. 

I will write about Waa Juwara and hope not to reach the zenith of Fatoumatta’s hopeless disharmony or Jali Bamba’s inept reading of Niccolo Machiavelli and his unlearned interpretations of the Lao Tse and the Chinese wisdom on statecraft. I start to write about him.

Lamin Waa Juwara easily qualifies to be one of the few Gambians who can genuinely be called a statesman. The independence heroes like Edward Francis Small and Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and were easy to see as statesmen. They had fought a foreign coloniser and got us independence. 

Later, during the second liberation struggles, which properly considered should be seen as the first liberation from our homegrown oppressors, Lamin Waa Juwara, Halifa Sallah, Seedia Jatta, Omar Amadou Jallow, Ousainou Darboe, Hatmat Bah Mohammed Lamin Sillah among many others including university professors and students who paid in mortal kind opened for us the democratic space. 

They defeated the idolatry of Shiekh Yahya Jammeh as the Oga, the Farmer number, Babilimansa, Doctor, Nasiru deen, Philosopher, and fighter of HIV/AIDS. That was achieved in early 1994-2016. I was lucky to be a witness to this history.

More than two decades later, in 2016, the hegemony of APRC was definitively defeated. President Adama Barrow was elected a popular mandate. 

The precursor of this was that the founding fathers of the Second Liberation of the struggle to end 22 years of malevolent dictatorship; first, they formed  NADD taking over the key position of the coalition NADD in 2006 ; and splitting it into two halves and coming out with some of the most unrepentant politicians stalwarts and a host of others of less public notoriety.

We learned a viable lesson: some of the people fighting reforms in opposition parties are not doing it out of deep convictions but out of cowardice and the fear of losing comfort. Waa Juwara has proved steadfast fighters for good governance and human rights, although with at times anemic dispositions. 

However, it must be given to him that Waa Juwara formidable performance in the last three General Elections had his weights behind the intent of defeating the incumbent and uproot despotism.

Through Lamin Waa Juwara’s patriotic campaign, rejection of the 1997 Draft Constitution in the referendum against strong forces which included some members of this 2016 coalition government who believed and still believe certain rights and opportunities could not be given to Gambian in temenos(in sacred places) like a people approved constitution. 

In 1997, we finally got a new constitution. However, it was because both the reformist forces, led by Lamin Waa Juwara and the comfortable forces, were both in opposition and had less acrimonious relationships.

The military junta’s morphed into civilian rule confirmed Lami Waa Juwara as a Bishop of sacred good and a person in whom so many Gambians have vested their faiths. The Archbishop is trusted with tithe and offering, and in him, we can sow seeds. 

Mbaroadi is allowed to transact with the devil, for we believe he did dine with the devil and not use his spoons. 

Why is Lamin Waa Juwara the only one who is allowed to fight anyone tooth and nail, and when he decides to retire his guns, his followers read strategy, not betrayal? The people trust him. They believe he has never betrayed them since he embarked on the quest for truth and justice, public office rectitude, and the institutionalization of egalitarianism. 

Waa Juwara cannot act but rightly and could not act without acting rightly. He has never acted unwisely like many other Gambians who abandoned the progressive forces to enjoy the glory of being Ministers and ambassadors for a brief period of years in Yahya’s rejected leadership. He has never behaved like Dr. Sedat Jobe, who was accepted in Yahya Jammeh’s cabinet in an obvious choice of selfishness and opportunism. 

He has never acted like Jali Bamba and Domori Foday, without the threshold of numbers even in a ward have vied for the presidency. These things make Lamin Waa Juwara a bishop to be beautified, and any time he is seen with the devil, it is understood to be a trip of exorcism and not the fall of the Holy Spirit.

Mbaroadi dealt with Yahya Jammeh and came out virtuous and not naked. He wrestled with Ousainou Darboe, and we got much good. He engaged Halifa Sallah and Seedia Jatta and Gambian media, and his adherents believe only good will come out of the engagement. Gambians want peace; to enjoy the fallacy of personal advantages we all vote for in every election.

Lamin Waa Juwara ( Mbarodi) the hero of democracy for his objectivity and candor in an era where blind politics and zombie-like loyalty have become the tone and flavor of party or individual preference.

It bothers me much when a man campaigning on the platform of “honesty and accountability” is caught with both hands in the cookie jar not once or twice but severally. 

The clamour for “change” as it is – is that of change for change’s sake, as long as there change, wherever that leads or leaves us.

What is required to liberate the Gambia and her citizens from poverty, disease, insecurity, and a dearth of visionary and purposeful leadership without first and foremost frontally confronting the Gambia’s dysfunctional institutional decay

Whether he will be eaten by sharks or survive in the belly of a whale remains to be seen. However, I think Lamin Waa Juwara will finally be vomited in Nineveh, where the people of God await his message. 

I will not criticise Lamin Waa Juwara (Mbaroadi). The mistakes I make are worse; in making friends, trusting everyone, listening to public opinion, ignoring the competition, being too truthful, and publishing my intentions.

Mbarodi is a star that cannot be stopped by other constellations and shines forth inconsistency, integrity, and intentions.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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