The Arrogance of Power and Intellectual’ IFANBODI’ New Normal in The Gambia:
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: ‘In Sickness and Power’ is a 2008 book by Lord David Owen. It is a sober narration of the queer marriage that exists between medicine and politics. Running through over a hundred years, it x-rays politicians, military people, security, business leaders, and Human rights lawyers to contribute to societal dislocation. The book presents a study in mental and physical illnesses, foolishness and stupidity, and rash hubris. This combo ruins political leaders and senior government officials who wield or exert influence or authority.
Of all the ailments, Owen identifies ‘hubris syndrome’ in leadership as the greatest threat to people’s freedom, human rights, and well-being. A reviewer identified the symptoms to include “patterns of reckless behavior, bad judgment, and operational incompetence, often compounded by delusions of personal infallibility and divine exemption from political accountability.”
If we, Gambians, were a reading nation, I would recommend it to our political leaders, public policy influencers, lawyers, economists, security personnel, and journalists – and to all who vote and regret so soon after dropping the crystal ballot marble into the box. We worked with everything, fair and foul, to see President Adama Barrow and his coalition partners defeat Yahya Jammeh in the 2016 historic presidential election.
Fatoumatta: A woodcutter is about to be eaten by the tiger he saved from death. He who saw a Jackal told his story and asked: “Is it fair that this tiger should eat the one who helped him?” Well, in power politics, kings relish renewing the potency of their throne with the precious blood of their backers. That is why we are told to be close to kings by 1,400 feet and be distant from them by 1,200. They kill.
Power-addicted politicians masquerading as democrats and so-called patriots in government service are scented arsonists. They spray petrol on naked truth, set it alight with falsehood, and swear they have no hand in the ensuing fire – or that the blaze is for the public good. Obsequious sycophancy and political arrogance are their synonym – or their surname. So, instead of wasting their limited energy on the symptom called verbal abuse on both social media and traditional media, also in political rallies, we should start looking for a permanent cure for the ailment.
Fatoumatta: Leaders who endorse evil will be alone and lonely when things get pretty bad. Political powers are sacred costumes fit only for the fit. When a masquerade names itself “SAMAYO or KANKURAN or IFANBONDI” (masquerades), it will dance alone, rejected, uncelebrated. Every power must expire – and this includes powers being wielded by those with life-and-death influence over their cowed worlds. For if masquerades are benign ancestors, why would they beat the world around them? Every Kibilo in a village has had a masquerade which is/was notorious for excessive wickedness. In its moment of strength, the hooded one will not remember that no JAMBADONGO or PHUTAMPAF festival lasts forever. When the feast of ‘Benechin and Super Kanja’ ends – because it must finish – the man behind the mask must account for all his profanities while inside the sacred costume. A fortunate government should know the very limits of its luck and logic.
In the Gambia, a crisis of political arrogance has become the new normal. After President Yahya Jammeh was ousted from power four years ago, the state and its political class, as well as senior government officials and influential politicians in three arms of government, also top combined security officer and lawyers they swore that their truth was the truth; that we did see what we saw on national television and social media how top security politicians and Cabinet Ministers including the political and intellectual arrogance amazes Gambians.
Fatoumatta: Some of our Gambia politicians and their top cronies are also on the defensive, making excuses for the evil of their deity. Politics would not let them remember that the voters entrusted them with authority and power. However, there is the third force condemning both two sides of the same coin. They ridiculed temper tantrums against the country’s youth and women’s folk without formulating any youth program in their party manifestos. They tore apart our conscience, throwing bad adjectives they coined for their blind lovers. James Freeman Clarke, an American preacher, and author eloquently said, “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation.” Gambian politician looks for the success of their political party, a genuine politician or a statesman wishes to steer.
In contrast, the politician is satisfied with a current drift. In essence, our politics seems to many Gambians that our political system is so irrational and dysfunctional that it is beyond repair. As a result, some of our politicians are thin; they keep quiet and become inactive after the election because they laid the foundation for today’s fascist beats of bad governance.
Fatoumatta: In Defense of our constitution and morality: Lawyers are expected to have a prima facie duty to defend the rule of law and ethics and fight against impunity. Lawyers must stand up for what is true, what is honorable, what is right, what is pure, what is of good repute, what is excellent and worthy of praise; this is the transcendent essence of the lawyers’ oath. Where was Lawyer Essa Mbye Faal when the 1997 constitution was mutilated for personal whims? Here lies the mutilated and disjointed remains of the 1997 constitution? So did our legal luminaries, including Essa, challenge or raised his voice to the bastardization of the 1997 Constitution? Did he ever challenge the unconstitutional constitutional amendment substantively unconstitutional of the 1997 Constitution almost 54 times without due process before the courts or in public forums?
While we waste ourselves with the inanities of who enabled today’s acid rain, the national being is fast decomposing. So why are we like this?
Those who wrote the fantastic script of the Yahya Jammeh playbook appear to be back at work. The odor is too striking in offensive similarity. Other people may live life forward; we live backward. We are back in the past. Kleptocracy survives partially because of intellectual prostitution and power arrogance —which prevails in Gambian politics past and present. It is politics; if you do not go along with it, you do not eat. Dishonesty, ambiguity, bullying, threats, cronyism, and sycophancy are merely theoretic strategies for those who put and power as objectives above truth. If truth is not upheld in every instance, telling the truth as a strategic option becomes ineffective.
In the book Africa Unchained (2005), Professor George Ayittey wrote: “as a group, African scholars and intellectuals have let Africa down badly by not providing intellectual leadership to the democratic struggle.” However, unfortunately, time and time again, for the highly “educated,” the lure of a luxury car, a diplomatic or ministerial post, and a government mansion often prove irresistible.”
Professor Ayittey added that “vile opportunism, unflappable sycophancy, and trenchant collaboration on the part of Africa’s intellectuals allow tyranny to become entrenched in Africa.” He also said, “All dictators legitimized and perpetuated their rule by buying off and co-opting Africa’s academics for a pittance. And when they fall out of favor, they are beaten up, tossed aside or worse. However, more offer themselves up.”
Moreover, he further noted, “As prostitutes, they partook of the plunder, misrule, and repression of the African people. Some of their actions were brazen.”
President Yahya Jammeh’s cabinet was full of Ph.D. holders. He had one of the most educated civil servants from prestigious universities and laid-off transnational workers in various multinational corporations and multilateral organizations when he took over. Moreover, many of those who served in his administration have sold off their integrity, principles, and conscience to help him’ beck and call. Some even preferred Yahya Jammeh’s kleptocratic rule to democracy and good governance. In the Gambia, we are afflicted with “intellectual astigmatism,” in many cases hopelessly blind to the injustices and belly politics.
We must be reluctant to any fireside chat on verbal abuse, power arrogance, and obsequiousness in our politics shame of recently. We must be unwilling to ask why and how our politicians have become the single nut in our fire. It is golden to wail at fascism; it is godly to scream at conscienceless power wherever it rains. However, some evil matters are beyond wailing and flailing. How should a country handle a tragedy bigger than tears? If there are still elders around, they should tell us to blow this moment off with laughter – and wait for the end of the mad season with its sure harvest of doom.
Gambians love distractions. There is a war raging on our politics on politicians and their travails. So, politicians got some guts of moral conscience to appear depraved characters been an unapologetic open book, and everyone knew it from the get-go. So, what is this new sudden awakening from these blind hypocrites who are tasked with “leading the flock”? There is nothing new. It is just a calculated change of tactic when you realize you played your Judas cards too long, reached a point of diminishing returns, and now you need to change tact. Let it never be lost on anyone that these political arrogance evangelicals are first and foremost a political force whose main agenda is to protect power and influence.
Fatoumatta: Furthermore, Some educated youth politicians have a compunction about playing dirty and devious cards to achieve their goal. These political arrogances embellish that hides the rot behind the altar. Nevertheless, at some point, the stench becomes unbearable even for them if there is an insider who came to a real awakening and decided to sweep this unholy altar, your best with one eye open.