By Alagi Yorro Jallow
An Albatross of National Development & Hidden Danger to Public Servants:
Fatoumatta: Who is a political blackmailer? A person who is tendentiously evil, manipulative, destructive, and selfish. The hatemonger, a spirit, a human being, and a demonic seed. As a spirit, it can bewitch anyone. Political blackmail germinates in the Gambia, is shrouded in parochial survivalism. It sells cock and bull stories about someone to a person of influence to tarnish the person’s integrity and reputation to fall out of favor. Political blackmail is in the DNA of many Gambian people. However, it cannot fly with leaders who have the strength of character.
The latest misinformation and smear campaign and old-age propaganda techniques and common occurrences in our politics have been directed against Mr. Dou Sanno, Deputy Political adviser to President Adama Barrow, by no other person than the hyper-paranoid and very disagreeable type of mendacious journalism which made to use audio of specific unscrupulous individuals made from a voice recording of the exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies being broadcast by people of unprincipled theatrical shows masquerading as a journalist and as activists. The Gambia cannot let those who think and believes in prehistoric times destroy our country, destroy our democracy and everything beautiful in it in our country.
Blackmail is the ultimate art of political survival. However, unfortunately, political blackmail is also the threat of -publication, or the actual publication, of true but more often invented stories to cause an opponent political damage, of slandering them, or of depriving them of the possibility of engaging in political activity. In today’s body politics, unscrupulous activists, cyberwarriors, mendacious journalism, party surrogates, and confirmation bias pundits have tried to influence the media narrative with false claims. As a result, they have created campaigns that shackle democratic gains and weaken the political process.
In retrospect, on August 12, 2016, a mendacious journalist and a deceitful person orchestrated an attempt to blackmail some powerful and influential people spreading big lies against decent people on social media echo chambers. Blackmailing and extortion from unethical journalists is no new phenomenon by some so-called activists and few other quack journalists in the Gambia. Therefore, it is a wonder that history repeats itself, practicing the dark arts of contrived communication once employed by Joseph McCarthy. If nothing else. Gambians know the history of blackmailing and be aware of the dark art of blackmailing. For example, five years ago, one of Ousainou Darboe’s wives was a victim of blackmail by an unscrupulous individual impersonating to be Ousainou Darboe’s wife, issuing threats and hate speech on radios multiple times. Also, the Gambia Democratic Congress leader, Mr. Mama Kandeh, too became a victim blackmailed and prey to one talkshow host accusing Mr. Kandeh of sleeping around with women in hotels. In addition, that particular journalist threatens to expose compromising images of the GDC leader.
Journalists began selling themselves to politicians, bureaucrats, finance sleaze bags, and celebrities. It is all about money and access. It has taken this long for everyone to start realizing the scum and slime that has penetrated our political institutions. This attempted blackmail and bigotry is a “dog bites man” story in which journalists sold their souls to protect their patrons. This is the tip of the iceberg for dubious journalistic practices. Journalism is all dead in the Gambia, and that is a shame. There should be implications for those that lie, embellish, and broadcast and publish scathing articles, false rhetoric, and just plain old lies. Our media is dominated by quack journalists, bigots, narcissists, and tribalists who stop at nothing but advancing their cause or their master’s cause. On the other side, Radio Talkshow must face some ramifications for those shows and writers and reporters that deliberately lie at work. Corrupt journalism does not pay, and I wonder how many other journalists with broken ethical compasses are shilling for politicians -under the guise of actual journalism as we speak.
Fatoumatta: The theory of political propaganda is not objective information, primarily used to influence an audience and further an agenda by spreading fake news. Political blackmail relies on misleading claims driven by propaganda and falsehoods. Our political campaign headquarters are filled with propaganda. Our politicians and their party surrogates are masters of the art of double-speak. In political rallies, our politicians, especially those in support of their godfather’s political party, tend to maintain a choreographed message of sobriety and progress, while in private, the different camps are busily propagating contempt, blackmail, hatred, character assassination, falsehood, and propaganda through social media.
Ben Guarino of The Washington Post described blackmailers in 2018 as ‘taboo enforcers who demand money or another benefit from someone in return for revealing or holding compromise or damaging information about someone. These are trolls seeking to upend truth and subvert facts about someone and times of patriotid duty. ‘Do not speak or act ill of good citizens came initially from a Spartan philosopher, and then it was latinated by the Romans to read De mortuis nihil nisi bonum – and spread around the world like Chinese viruses. Then, as in all cases, the black man contracted the no-no and turned it into a religion, got drunk with it, and will not mind killing for it.
A controversial citizen in society is reminded of the fugitive life of the blackmailer or those engaged in mendacious journalism and what lesson to learn from it. The enforcer’s political blackmailer and spreads the big lies broke a taboo; their timid, closet collaborators hide behind the blackmailer’s impurity of previous alliances to assail his position and protect the taboo. They have all been out since then, prowling the streets.
They say our Gambian culture is to praise-sing every ghost, white or black, but that is not true! If our Gambian culture is against speaking ill of good citizens, records waxed cursing cyberwarriors and blogger talk show host who always are caught, tied to the stake, and publicly executed for blackmailing political opponents and decent people would be perceived horrible. However, in Gambian politics, the records were bestsellers in damaging people’s reputations. The same with those waxed on notorious blogger talk show radio host is another robber famously generous with their loot. Again, they are caught, shamed, and shot with no redemption for their memory.
‘A good decent man is ‘be found on every lip even as everyone knows that to be a lie? When you looked at the tragedy of not speaking ill of decent people and took the route rarely taken, Gambian politicians under Adama Barrow are the world’s most pampered and unprotected species. They are criticized for their misdeeds and insulted without contending with darts from their legions of daggers for hire on social media and in the news media. Critics are also allowed to freely speak unflattering, publicly available FACTS and LIES about them; the society blackmails them into feeling guilty for serving their country.’ This ensures that they get away with iniquities in a democracy… Of course, Gambian politics’ is always kind to every politician in New Gambia’s emergent democracy.
It is not only politicians who should lose their immunity from blackmailing and insults dissection. Realistically, this situation is as damning to the “free market” in general for the media. Suppose your competitor is profiting from unethical behavior. In that case, you are pretty much forced to behave likewise or be forced out of business. Who is in a position to challenge the unethical behavior? Furthermore, what are their incentives for doing so?
Fatoumatta: Current politics is primarily driven by political blackmail. President Barrow’s second term bid for the presidency has intensified in resulting in the hiring, recruiting, and recycling of certain cyberwarriors and yellow journalists morphed into writing the political obituaries of Adama Barrow and confident of his loyal political advisers and aides. These mavericks served in the interest of their patrons. In addition, President Barrow’s government and his close cronies have been tainted by constant leaks, blackmail, and the pedaling of false news on social media; for instance, there has been a series of false news releases involving top government officials that have reverberated through the political burners and the political landscape.
Blackmail cuts both ways, however. In a political mudslinging contest, the winners are usually those privy to quality information that their opponents do not have. The only person in the republic to receive full intelligence briefings daily is President Barrow. In the political blackmail “market,” he is at the top of the information chain. The myopic and reluctant stance on fighting corruption, including investigations into the awarding of contracts to and the appointment of party loyalists and relatives to top jobs in the civil service and other government agencies, as well as the much-touted impending “lifestyle audits,” is the construct of either gutter journalists,cyber-warriors or disloyal the Intelligence Services members.
Some cyberwarriors and their pack of greenhorn politicians are exercising their objections carelessly. Blackmail, including the assertion that the “lifestyle audit” of public officers and all cabinet ministers, only serves to give President Barrow the excuse to push ahead with his intended purge. Through their uncalculated remarks and actions, they contribute to the breakdown of the government and turn President Barrow from an asset into a foe.
These episodes of blackmail, exposés, leaks, propaganda, and the pedaling of false news on social media all have a common thread—an urge to score quick political points against the supporters of “President Barrow and his cronies. The fair verdict should be that those who lived as private and public tormentors should face torment till eternity. Powerful, bad people do not share your hope in heaven and fear of hell. They believe that everything ends here on earth – the reason they fight to own the world and possess all in it and ask you and me to shut up. Nevertheless, suppose our vehicle drivers know there is a day of rebuke. In that case, they will be sober and stop rough-driving the Gambian bus.
Fatoumatta: The taboo enforcers are everywhere; they will not calm down; they should be stared down. However, unfortunately, respecting satanic memories or cowering before their ubiquitous presence means we all are hostage to stupidity – and mendacity. Furthermore, that would be sad, unfortunate, and even suicidal because the dead can still hurt – especially since they were evil. The dead deserve justice from the living. It is justice if the evil that men do is made to live after them. That is one godly way to furl the mat of Satan and his evil ways.
Politics thrives on perception.