Should we Ask Forgiveness as a People?
It now makes sense to think, at least once, that the Gambia, as a nation, needs to apologize to people and countries like Senegal, Ghana, and Liberia, to name a few. The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) had ended its public hearings. There is overwhelming evidence linking the former President, Yahya Jammeh, to crimes against humanity, ranging from unlawful killings, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, detention without trial, etc.
If not proper, my humble view is that our people could apologize to other nationals (some of us call them foreigners) they believed were behind the rights violations in The Gambia, under the regime of Yahya Jammeh.
Speculations under Jammeh were rife. Thanks to the TRRC, the majority, if not all of the heinous crimes allegedly sanctioned by the former head of state, came to light. Some of the “Junglers,” directly answerable to Jammeh, willingly narrated their participation in gruesome executions.
I must say many Gambians, including myself, were shocked and surprised to hear the gravity of the crimes committed in mother Gambia by our own brothers. None of us thought such atrocities could happen in our Gambia, the country we know, The Gambia we lived and cherished.
The naivety of our people was born out of their instinct of survival since Yahya Jammeh’s regime instilled fear in people by arresting and detaining individuals unlawfully. Jammeh and his regime suppressed their attempts to express their opinions in different media outlets or within societies they lived.
I say so because the terror spearheaded by Jammeh compelled my fellow brothers and sisters to remain in the darkness in this beautiful country. That’s how some of us began looking for answers elsewhere and accusing Jammeh of hiring former Charles Taylor warlords to help in the killings and disappearances of Gambians and non-Gambians, alike. At the same time, others believed that those who killed for Jammeh were not Gambians but instead were rebels from Casamance, Senegal.
From the TRRC, it was crystal clear that these killers are our people, while our people committed the murders and for one of our people, Yahya Jammeh. I say so because these are state agents, paid from state coffers, and expected to serve to protect its people. Unfortunately, the same people who swore to uphold the dictates of the supreme law of the land (The Constitution) coldly executed innocent souls.
Every genuine person within the sub-region knew that Gambians are sympathetic, peace-loving, sharing, and caring. No wonder it bears the sobriquet ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa.’ The terrible dictatorship for 22 years nearly snatched the “smile” away from us but, thank God, when we decided to come together in December 2016 and uproot that dictatorship like a cassava plant.
Because of this dreadful dictatorship, paranoia, suspicion, and rumor-mongering rose to the extent that innocent people countrywide were accused of having direct or indirect hands in blatant rights violations in this beautiful country of ours.
The commission is winding down recommendations with the perspective that justice and reconciliation shall prevail. The truth has now come to light on the wrongly accused.
Gambians did not hate us, but they were entangled in a cobweb and deprived of their freedom of expression and access to information to separate the facts from the fiction. That may explain the finger-pointing since none of us would attain fulfillment from tarnishing our brothers and sisters’ image and the nations as a whole.
Never Again! Never Again! and Never Again.