The Arch 22 in Banjul

Restricted leadership was a legacy at Animal Farm. There were only three leaders after Old Major died: Napoleon, Mr. Jones and Mamudu. Despite the many other animals who could have been trained to lead, leadership remained in the hand of a privileged few. Building the windmill was a major goal of the farm. It would bring electricity to give light, heat, cool air and leisure. For this the animals constantly toiled.

It would be the major project that would help them realise and experience their, not American Dream, but their Animal Farm Dream. It would make real “their Canaan, their promised land”.

So much more could be said about the characters and many other themes. But let me begin the application from “Animal Farm” to Animal “The Gambian Farm”. Fifty-four years, Napoleon, Snowball, other than Mr. Jones, were the only leaders that farm had ever known. Why, oh why, Fifty -four years, has the Gambia only produced three leaders – Is there no one else among us qualified to lead? Really?

Do politicians, religious leaders, civil society activists and people have no shame? And why is there no constitutional amendment, as was promised, to limit leadership to a maximum of two terms?

Strange enough, fifty-four years, I am still hearing about diversification of the Gambian economy. I first heard that “political catchphrase” in 1979 while in high school. And still we hear it today as if it were some fresh, ingenious, brilliant idea.

Fifty-four years we have allowed the agricultural fishery, peanut farming to degenerate to the point of subsistence living only. What a waste of potential, the thousands upon thousands of wasted barren acres in our islands hungry to be “impregnated, to give birth” to tropical fruits which can be exported around the world. At 54 years, we are still relying on peanut farming and tourism. Are we serious?

Fifty-four years we have had no windmill that would provide a quality of existence; stable electricity that would lay the foundation for leisure and pleasure. Have we really moved forward, upward, onward and together?
Like “Animal Farm”, we have lost our industrial identity, been conditioned to revel in the parades, the entertainment culture that cultivates patriotism, thus helping us to forget the greater issues of society and foster contentment with the non-industrial status of the country.

Let us celebrate and parade on Kairaba Avenue a new leader in 2021, three or four major industrial/agricultural/technological exports that rival peanut farming and tourism’s revenue. Let’s celebrate our foreign business investments; our world industries; “windmills”; that bring windfalls to this country.

Cassius to Brutus in Shakespeare’s political tragedy “Julius Caesar” was timelessly and universally correct: Why man, he would not be a wolf, but that we are sheep. The ignorance of the animals brought about tyrannical leadership.

Fifty-four years, we have rather proudly “independence” ourselves not just from England, but also God. Man’s truest independence has always logically, morally and financially his dependence of his Creator.

Fifty-four years the ignorance of the masses has been exploited by Napoleon and his colleagues. Anyone who attempted to become a thinker, dreamer and demonstrate leadership prowess has been ostracized, criticized as rabble-rousers and then marginalized by the security dogs of nepotism, cronyism, despotism, sprinkled with subtle and at times overt acts of victimization, persecution and covert deprivations of various instances of life, liberty and happy pursuits.

Fifty four years we have degenerated from being Gambians. We are primarily tribal and political opportunist; our democracy fails in this… because we listen to “a majority” we draw hard lines and quickly classify people as “Us and Them”… our democracy fails because it is not purpose led.

Subsequently the best ideas, visions, intellectual and leadership prowess are overlooked, or underused until the next party gets in office. Then the cycle repeats itself. Rather than become more non-partisan, we continue to foster partisanship and the country suffers tremendously. And the aged politicians stay in office, snuffing out bright young leaders.

Fifty-four years the Gambian people like Boxer have concentrated their physical energy on labour and loyalty to the established order, only to die poor, unappreciated, without seeing or tasting the fruit of the “Promised land”.

Fifty-four years like Muriel and Clover we struggle to understand what our true freedom was all about, not remembering, nor understanding the many societal changes. They had good hearts but bad heads.
Long live, the Gambia, Long live Africa!

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

This is the final part of Alagi’s independence review series.

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