Gambians celebrate the end of the Jammeh dictatorship in 2017 Photo credit Jason Florio

It is now crystal clear that 2016 Coalition leadership took their eyes off the ball. After achieving an unprecedented electoral victory in our State of euphoria, the leadership failed to appreciate that managing success is even more taxing than winning an election. 

We vacillated when we ought to have acted with promptness. Some of us have sought to falsely consign the verdict of the December 1, 2016, historic day to irrelevance. We have lived in denial for so long. December 1 Presidential elections challenge Gambians to guard our democracy. 

As we remember December 1, we were challenged to guard our hard-won democratic freedom and prevent any hijack or abuse of the very principles of constitutional democracy.

December 1 stands as the real Democracy and Freedom Day, which was sanctioned by the blood of martyrs who laid down our lives for this democracy. We know that even as enemies of democracy try to thwart the idea, Gambians’ sacrifice who took to the streets should never be forgotten. 

The onus is on the Government to immortalise the true heroes of the Gambia’s democracy. This day December 1, must be a National Day and be declared a national holiday. 

The State should further champion the course of deepening this nascent democracy by ensuring that living and dead heroes of December 1 struggle to ensure that they are not forgotten.

The Gambia people should honour and remember the heroes and heroines of the country’s democracy and commemorate the late pro-democracy activists’ death. 

Since December 1 stands as one of the most significant dates in the Gambia’s political history and a day not to be forgotten. One of the best national recognition the struggle deserves.

Nation-building requires all citizens’ sacrifice: all and sundry must, therefore, imbibe the moral rectitude to embrace the past. 

We must, therefore, recognise the heroes and heroines of Gambia’s democracy. December 1, events in Gambia’s history symbolises strong democratic principles and experience. 

President Adama Barrow and his Government must place history in the right perspective by recognising and declaring December 1 as a Democracy Day. Adama Barrow should recognize its key figures that entrenches the Gambia’s democratic experience for the past three years in furthering the cause of democracy and good governance.

Several Gambians were at the forefront and an active participant in the dictatorship era’s politics. We shared the fears, pains, and anxieties of fellow Gambians about dictatorship’s horrors; our efforts at building an enduring democracy have not always been smooth. 

President Adama Barrow and his Government has to halt the deceit, and repair the damage by taking the symbolic step of recognising the sacrifices of pro-democracy activists and many other heroes and heroines of democracy-the artisans, human rights organization, students, traders, journalists, academics, various professionals, organized religion and the labor movement through conferment of the National award with full honours.

An honour first to men and women, young and old who paid the supreme price to pave the way for Gambia’s democracy, and then to the heroes and heroines who stood up against dictatorship, including those in the Fourth Estate of the realm who marshaled the written and spoken words against tyranny and the proclamation of December 1 as Democracy Day.

The Gambia government should also give the posthumous award to all fallen heroes’ families and heroines the Gambia’s highest honour. 

This action is not to open old wounds but to put light on the nation. We cannot right the past, but we can at least assuage our feelings and no longer tolerate such perversion of justice, corruption, and human rights violations. 

December 1 was when Gambians decided to end dictatorship and chose the path to national unity, rather than ethnic eyes. We redefined the Gambia through the ballot box. It is possible to revive the spirit of December 1 provided we could imbibe democratic principles.

No Gambian can doubt the United Gambians of all tribes, social media activists, Facebook warriors, and all for the tremendous interest of the Gambia and our great people. 

Do not underestimate our prowess to change the Gambia’s lousy Government, determination, and pledge for a better Gambia. We were great men and women, great enough to give frame to change towards a better future for all Gambians, currently in our history. We are the guidance of our nation and people.

We were there when an educated and wealthy class despised the Gambia and our people because we have robbed the Gambia of her treasures, or, at least, have got rich off the fruits of our people’s labour. 

If poor Gambians get freedom from corruption, our fountain will be dried up, and they will be obligated to seek business in a new channel with failure.

You do not remove a ruthless dictator by only carrying placards. You do not do that at the Elysee Palace; they will listen to you. You do that at Buckingham Palace, and they will listen to you. You do that at the White House; they will listen to you as the arrowhead of the struggle against a brutal dictator.

Lastly, the government and civil society organizations should propose a Hall-of-Shame for past Gambian leaders and enablers of dictatorship who were infamous for their brutality to sound as a warning note, would-be bad leaders.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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