Dear editor,
After fifty-five years of nationhood, The Gambia paradoxically finds itself joining the rest of the world in marking the threshold of a new decade as a democracy- in- transition. This state of affairs would have been laughable but for its seriousness. Like the Athenian democracy which was preceded by a long history of destabilization and violent competition for power, the Gambia’s democracy- in –transition which took root three years ago has also been preceded by two decades of authoritarian and despotic rule. This is the more reason why the paradox of the Gambia’s democracy-in-transition after fifty-five years of nationhood is not a laughing matter.

When the Athenians institutionalized democracy, it did not take them long to acknowledge the imperfection of the system of democracy itself, for they realized that contestants who vied for power invariably “failed to adhere to the rules of legitimate opposition by pursuing leadership in ways that negatively impacted or systematically distorted the character of the regime”. In order to obviate such illegitimate opposition, the Athenians engineered a mechanism of banishment that targeted individuals whose ideology and pursuit of power contravened constitutional consensus.

Meanwhile, in the home front most people agree that the success of the Gambia’s democracy-in-transition which took root three years ago requires many parts moving harmoniously and depends on strategic contingencies, particularly in view of the recent emphatic but unconstitutional and therefore unattractive demands through posts on social media, public debates and protests in the streets for drastic change in the democratization process. The pursuit of unconstitutional demands and protests by both political parties and groups have not only shaken the state apparatus to its core, but have equally put the government’s institutions’ reform process weaknesses on the limelight.

In this regard, the state, while recognizing the value of political rivalry, must equally have the ability to strike a balance between too little opposition and too much opposition as it strives to encouraging and regulating public participation in the decision making processes. It is axiomatic that a regime invariable lapses into authoritarian and despotic rule when there is too little or no opposition. Conversely, too much opposition, especially opposition which advances illegitimate ideas and contravenes constitutional consensus, results in violence, political instability, disruption of services and the loss of life and limb.

Joseph P Jassey
Capt. (rtd)









Mr Saine’s testimony seemed sensationalised and lacked grace
Dear editor,
I listened attentively to his testimony and it smacks of obfuscation, evasive response and obvert condescension towards our religious leaders.

Gambians can be proud of the spirit of amicable coexistence that persisted between Christians and Muslims since time immemorial. A poignant case is the neighbourliness ambience the Manjago and Mandinkas enjoyed over the years in Kombo and Niumi exemplified in cross-ethnic marriages and symbiotic pursuit of livelihood. We do say Manjagos don’t cheat and are very honest, in my childhood, many Mandinkas put their goats in custody of Manjagos in Taaneneh, Kunkujang Tababaato, Maasia etc. What a testimony of trust and co-beneficial enterprise.

In my decades of life, the only communal tension I ever witnessed was the “Taaneneh” graveyard imbroglio which was later amicably settled.
Let him phantom the nuances of colonialism embedded in Christianity that indelibly changed the Gambian religious landscape. The colonial masters with a Bible in one hand dominated our nation for decades, destroying the local kingdoms changing their culture and indigenous administration that persisted for many generations.

Subjugating their traditions and extracting their resources with antecedent political disenfranchisement and economic control which in many manifestations brainwashed the colonised to think the colonialists and their ways are superior and that Jesus was white thus opposing them means opposing GOD.
Then, democracy and human rights were not born, it was all about colonial power wielding and parasitic resources exploitation.

After independence, the bitterness nurtured for years dissipated and Gambians opened a new chapter, graciously, Christian minority imposed by the colonialists, who were sympathetic to the colonial rule were never targeted or maligned.
That was the spirit of togetherness we should all strive to maintain and eschew any attempt to divide us by evoking minority sentiments.

Lamin Darboe
Leicester, UK

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