By Momodou Sabally
My respect for Honourable Halifa Sallah rests on a high pedestal that shall remain unassailable. My admiration for his stellar academic prowess also abides to date.
This is a man who has done so much for his country and got so little in return in terms of personal reward. Having said that, Halifa Sallah is a human being and nothing more than that. Any attempt at casting him on a pedestal higher than that by either his own making or those of his cult-like followers would be tantamount (if I may use a typical PDOIS/Foroyaa word here) to building sand castles in the air.
Honourable Sallah has done a lot for this country but so has he done a lot to The Gambia. For any normal human being, the foregoing opinion would pass as normal given the frailties of human nature. But for Halifa Sallah and his band of cult worshipers, I have committed the greatest heresy of all times: how can Halifa be wrong in anything; how on earth can this colossus err in anyway?
Yet the great Bard of Trench Town, Bob Marley, has some wisdom for those with discerning ears: “you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time. So now we see the light (What you gonna do?).”
Once again, for the record, my respect for Halifa Sallah remains high and unassailable given the sacrifice he has done to educate the masses about civic matters. However, that respect does not grant Halifa immunity form critique and scrutiny, especially in the light of his lifetime of criticism and self righteousness.
From the failed National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) Coalition to the current intractable mess called New Gambia, Halifa Sallah’s fingerprints are embedded in the most complex political fiascos this country has gone through. And we can forgive him for no man is perfect; but Halifa and his cult of ‘serign-ndigal’ type followers should know that we have the right to question/challenge the thinking and conduct of their chief priest.
For those who may not know the background to this essay, it is occasioned by a piece of criticism, actually social media banter, I put on Facebook questioning the neutrality of Honourable Sallah in his position as mediator between The Gambia Christian Council and mainly Muslim groups in the contentious debate about the inclusion of the term “Secular State” in our draft constitution. My contention is that, being a professed, avid secularist Halifa Sallah cannot, and should not, assume the role of a mediator in this debate.
But this challenge, which I tinged with extra spice saying that Honourable Sallah is getting into the fray in this matter just to score cheap political points, did not go down well with Halifa and his disciples. They responded with innuendoes and insults, led by none but Halifa Sallah himself.
The fact is that the battle of ideas about the matter of secularity had been done and dusted. With the draft constitution at its penultimate state, the CRC must have settled for the most popular position in this matter. Why then is Halifa Sallah waking up this sleeping dog?
Does the man want to reignite another impasse to gain prominence and more political capital? Is it not sad that the honourable gentleman from Serekunda would want to build his political career on the carcasses of chaotic situations?
I do sympathise with the man. Really his political fortunes could have been much better in New Gambia. Understandably, he is bitter and disappointed that his party cannot number even among the top 4 in this critical period of realignment and repositioning in our political firmament. Surely the man deserves better, but politics is a strange game. Of course, with the sun as emblem of his political party, Halifa Sallah May have some reason to be bitter for seeing his party remain a transient meteorite in this constellation of political planets like APRC, UDP, GDC and the new emerging star that is actually an unintended product of Halifa’s own political project, the National People’s Party, NPP.
I know his anger is anchored on the fact that he and his allies actually vilified the Jawara government into extinction and the successor of the PPP regime was a group that was fed and nurtured on reactionist left-wing ideologies propagated by Honourable Sallah and his Foroyaa newspaper. Sadly, those young men became his worst adversaries. Who knows? maybe Sir Dawda cursed his adversaries and anyone who contributed to the demise of his political empire. Karma does exist and it does manifest itself in strange and subtle ways.
So Honourable Halifa Sallah should look into his own philosophy and history if he wants to make progress and rise up in this game. Let him not try to concoct another political impasse to gain relevance and prominence at the expense of the whole nation.
The debate on Secularism is settled and I hereby appeal to the Supreme Islamic Council not to entertain any request from Halifa Sallah to reignite this contentious matter. Let us wait for the final draft of the constitution and vote in the referendum in peace and tranquility.
This country has better things to do than keep ourselves bugged down into endless press conferences, and debates.
May Allah grant us all the wisdom to remain tolerant of opposing views and to “live and let live” in this our little oasis of peace and tranquility in our troubled world. God bless The Gambia and May Allah grant us all #peace.
Momodou Sabally, a former minister and secretary general of the APRC, is now a key surrogate of the UDP.