It is incredible how fast friends can become foes. I do not want to lay any claim to self-righteousness, but once someone has done you a single good in life, you do not turn against them no matter the temptation. President Barrow “Sabari” and free Yankuba Darboe and his colleagues.

Forgiveness is the sign of strength; forgiveness is one of the most beautiful acts that humans are capable of President Barrow. Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu eloquently said: “Before we can address human suffering from a place of love, of forgiveness and not revenge, of humility and not arrogance, of generosity and not guilt, of courage and not fear, we must learn to see with the eyes of the heart”.

President Adama Barrow “Sabari,” and may your heart be filled with forgiveness, humility, generosity, and courage like you, President Barrow learns to see all our mess with the eyes of the heart. “Sabari” and free Yankuba Darboe and his colleagues.

Before President Adama Barrow won his election in 2017, he knew Yankuba Darboe’s unwavering commitment, faith, support as well as his commitment to democracy, justice, and the rule of law. President Barrow also knew Yankuba’s repugnant to kleptocratic rule and human rights abuses. He contributed financial and moral support to the 2016 Coalition that elected President Barrow in 2017.

Yankuba Darboe joined the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, dignity, human rights, and democratic governance for the Gambia as a young law student. Some people choose the struggle, but he truly believes God chose him for the struggle of fighting for democracy and the rule of law in The Gambia.

After nearly two decades of observing and actively participating in the political and social justice struggles in the Gambia, I have come to learn that President Barrow, your legacy is essential in freeing Yankuba Darboe and his colleagues. Sabari President Barrow and free Yankuba and his colleagues.

Lawyer Yankuba Darboe may be an iconoclastic non-conformist but certainly is not a traitor. He is a democrat and patriotic Gambian. Much rain had fallen since 2016. Many of the leadership of the 3 Years Jotna pressure group, including Yankuba Darboe, who campaigned for  President Barrow when it was not fashionable to do so and when no one gave him a chance, are no longer with him. That does not make President  Barrow their enemy. 

The 3 Years Jotna pressure group left because they were disappointed at how President Barrow refused to relinquished power, not honouring the three years ‘Laahidoo’ of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of the 2016  Coalition and how he runs the country. They left because their hopes and aspirations of  President Adama Barrow as a change agent were mistaken. They are not enemies of the Gambia. They desire the Gambia that works for everyone.

Yankuba Darboe warts and all is a patriot. He is not a traitor. Treason is a crime committed by traitors who betray their country and or attempting to kill or overthrow the government. There is no perfect social movement, and there can never be a universally acceptable way to agitate for change. Still, movements offer marginalised people a unifying and often effective way to move our societies closer to ideals of justice and inclusion.

Yankuba and his colleagues provided many young Gambians with an opportunity to establish a sense of identity-based on community, dignity, and power rather than just shared experiences of exclusion, discrimination, or violence. As with most protests, their methods were confrontational, and the movement’s popularity was mostly limited to those who were directly affected.

I read the charge sheet, and I was sad. What made me sad is that the government seems unable to distinguish between the threat of fear and their fear of being threatened. The government seems intent at jailing Yankuba because they felt humiliated. That is not good because we know; when the government wants to get you, they will.

A significant police presence was deployed at many of the protest sites. In some cases, the police used teargas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades on protesters, the vast majority of whom were unarmed. For particularly disruptive protesters, consequences were severe.

This sort of psychological reversal is generally present wherever protests take place. Powerful institutions and protected people do not immediately benefit from protests. As a result, they often accuse protesters of being divisive and wanting to destroy rather than enrich society.  

Since they are largely insulated from the impacts of discrimination, it can be not very easy for them to recognize how the advantages they enjoy are sometimes at the expense of other people’s wellbeing or survival.

However, in most cases, our societies benefit from the conflict that is produced when people demand inclusion, even if others insist on maintaining unjust norms. Despite stiff resistance from the mainstream, the Gambia has long been propelled towards political progress by movements. The political landscape is susceptible to change, and protesters are well placed to take advantage of this tendency.

Proclaiming “a revolution “even with an alleged “reckless and boastful braggadocio “is not tantamount to staging a revolution or attempting a forcible overthrow of the government. A peaceful protest that is dressed up in a hyperbolic garb of a revolution is not a treasonable felony; No government in the Gambia, civil or military, has ever been brought down by street protests. 

Those who, in our history, successfully overthrew governments know this fact for any one of them to have imagined that Yankuba Darboe’s “3 Years Jotna” could have started or led to a revolutionary overthrow of the government.

Peaceful protests and demonstrations, even with incendiary or inflammatory declarations and denunciations of government, which some may find objectionable, are an exercise of the democratic rights to freedoms of expression, assembly, and association as enshrined in the Constitution. 

For the avoidance of any doubt, Yankuba and his colleagues have been charged to court for any offense known to law. Those who are mocking the crusaders for their release with a “go to court and defend him “challenge are wrong. The State has detained and investigated them. An application for bail is pending and remanded at the Central Prisons.  

The press, critics, and advocates in mainstream and online media keep an eye on the government to keep from being a victim of their weaknesses and vanities. To mistake this for anything else is the onset of hubris, which is destroyed from within and from without.

The charge of treason, arrests, and threats of arrest of critics flying around is not suitable for this government. When advocates and critics are hounded, it gives the impression of a sinister move by the government to strengthen its narrative on politics, the economy, and security at the cost of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. That does no government any kind, and they should know better.

The shout of a revolution that President Barrow to relinquished power by Yankuba Darboe and his 3 Years Jotna is an Aluta rhetoric. The “Days of Rage” is mere semantics meant to pressure the government to be more devoted to the cause of suffering Gambians and no more. I urge “President Adama Barrow” to Sabari to please Free Yankuba Darboe and his colleagues.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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