Gambia have gone through a dictatorship for 22 years under Yahya Jammeh a man who assumed ownership of the country and everything in it.
The country has experienced the most brutal rule of the twenty first century, the killings, disappearances, tortures and imprisonment of perceive and real opponents of the regime. These have resulted in creating a fear factor amongst the citizenry especially civil servants and the security services.
The brutalities were resisted by a small well-respected group of Gambians. Some of whom lost their lives whilst others served long jailed terms. Many continued to fight the dictatorship from afar using the internet- online media outlets, the radios, Facebook and in the later stages of the struggle, the WhatsApp became the tool of communication. Today if you talk about the Gambia diaspora struggle against dictatorship ordinary citizens think it was all Gambiansin the diaspora who were part of this. No these were very few considering the number of Gambians in the diaspora. Ninety percent of the Gambians in the diaspora were equally terrified by Jammeh like that old woman in Jarra Jappine. Yes most people in the diaspora do not even want to associate themselves with the likes of Pa Ndery Mbai, Pa Samba Jow , Banka Manneh, Musa Saidykhan, Momodou Lamin Sillah, Suntou Touray, Yaya Dampha, Bamba Mass, Lamin Tunkara, Fabou Sanneh amongst others. If you ask most of the loud mouths on the internet today where were they during those years the struggle the most common answer you get is “I was fighting behind the scenes” There was no one behind the scenes, you were cowed into silence simple. In fact some have changed their names just because of the fear rules the Gambia.
In 2016 the Gambian Struggle against Dictatorship took a new dimension after the arrest of Ebrima Solo Sandeng and others who went to demonstrate for electoral reform. Yes electoral reform because that was an election year and the electoral laws at the time bared those over 65 years of age to contest for presidency.
This disqualified Mr. Sandeng’s party leader Ousainou Darboe of the UDP. This were part of the reasons why Yahya Jammeh did not take that demonstration lightly. He handled it with a heavy hand which resulted with the death of Solo Sandeng, two days later, Mr. Darboe and others went on another protest march demanding the release of their party member Solo, ‘death or alive’ they too were brutally handled, arrested, prosecuted and jailed.
This turn of events led to the formation of the long awaited political coalition led by President Adama Barrow. The coalition campaign was supported by the political activists of the Gambian diaspora, all of who mobilise support from their love ones against then President Yahya Jammeh.
During the last days of the political campaign in 2016 almost all the Gambian diaspora political activists were glued to their telephones calling and sending audios and video clips begging voters convincingly not to vote for Yahya Jammeh.
Activist like honourable Suntou Touray and others could be remembered crying in their video appeals for the voters to vote for the coalition candidate Adama Barrow. Suntou Touray cried because he wants to see a stop to the killings, disappearances, tortures and imprisonment. He cried because so many lives were wasted by Jammeh, he cried because so many Gambian brains flee into exile, some of whom have died and their corpses were denied entry in the Gambia. Suntou Touray cried because in 2016 alone so many elderly people were sent to the prison and all of them could die in jail like Solo Kurumah who died in custody.
Suntou Touray was not crying because he wants Adama Barrow to become President, he was not crying because he wants Darboe, Sallah, Fatty, Bah, Jallow or anyone to be president. He was crying for freedom, liberty, justice, democracy and rule of law in the Gambia. Which we have achieved collectively in our new Gambia.