Sunday, March 26


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By: Bakary Ceesay

“Nothing is more dangerous than authority in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thoughts of a right mind.

One could not talk about politics without understanding it. Practicing it has never been easy. Even less so in a country where an iron-fisted dictator reigns. Because simply put, politics is contingent and never-change.

Because leaders, whether real or fake, perpetually find themselves facing new situations that are, at least partly, unpredictable. Who would have imagined that the Gambia would find itself isolated in West Africa, amidst this upheaval where deep forces are at play? It is unstable manifestly, cruel, assuredly, and incredulous.

Coalition 2016, led by President Adama Barrow bred hope in many of us but after three years of what is now evident to be a failed leadership; people have lost confidence in President Barrow and his government.

It is too sad our great nation is plagued with serious youth unemployment, lack of good healthcare, and education and the cost of living is on the rise, and security as we know it has gotten worse. In light of this, the Gambia cannot afford another five years of President Barrow’s style of leadership.

As a struggling nation, we need serious leads that will tap into the huge talent pool within and outside of the country to bring about the needed development.

Given the wrong direction we are headed as a nation, we cannot afford to sit and hope for change to happen. Thus, there is an urgent need for all to join hands and rescue the country from President Adama Barrow and his group of economic opportunists to ensure that President Barrow is removed from office beyond the 2026 elections.

Barrow and his government have just recently spent millions of Dalasis touring the country spreading lies and misinformation on the pretense that all is going well in the country in terms of governance, while our mothers and sisters are dying in our ill-equipped hospitals; our children sitting on bare floors in dilapidated classrooms, our families not being able to afford three meals a day due to the high cost of commodities, and insecurity rampant murders cases all over the country.

To ensure a zero chance of this continuous bad leadership, we must start now and work with serious political parties aiming to lift our nation out of abject poverty and mismanagement.

Within this context, Gambia cannot be run by men who lack strong convictions and who, from the outset, don’t have the stature of charismatic leaders, men who have been driven, in the “state partisan-clan-like” structurization of current political life, to make arcane decisions for the nation.

This is what the German Sociologist, Max Weber, described perfectly, using a German expression that has since become famous, “the rise of the BERUFSPOLITIKER OHNE BERUF”, illustrating the arrival of “professional politicians, with neither vocation nor conviction,” in his founding work of modern sociology, “The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”

This, in large part, explains the composition of Gambia’s current government, in which it has become possible for people to take advantage of their situation, through their political control and impunity, each in their way, with their own 15 minutes of fame.

This also explains the composition of the National Assembly, where people are chosen based on their servility and obedience, in sum, their ability to not rankle the volition of those above. Finally, this explains that, for some, pedigree alone is enough to take on senior roles that are far above their level of competence.

This is why this Gambia needs men that will take it out of its conventional paths, who are capable of shaking up established order to understand the reality of the conditions that surround them and to feel the corresponding impulses in a great moment of unity. In other words, men of character, instinct, and unity.

All politicians provoke controversies. The demands on them are heterogeneous. Some are tribal. Or communitarian. Others national or financial. The charismatic leader must incorporate them and transform them into a collective demand – a shared passion – embodying this as his identity. He will be, in empirical terms, the representation. Starting from there, a double vertical movement begins, which he must endure: “From the represented to representation and from representation to the represented”. Unifying, is he?

The little dictator entertains. He upholds splits and divisions. He ensures instability. His irresponsibility is too often glaring. Blocking anything time sensitive, he can’t stop wavering between projects, constantly being tugged this way or that. His signature, changing sides. The little dictator rules by tricks and by force.

By lying and by falsehoods. Lacking a homogeneous perception of the population, he cannot reign over a population that grows larger and more diverse. Sectarian is he.

Effusion, the true leader doesn’t know it. Nor narcissistic fever. The same with ostentatious rewards. Controversy and its hype, he confronts them: “Difficulty attracts the man of character because it is through his embrace of it that he fulfills his true potential,” Charles de Gaulle taught us in “War Memoirs.”

In the face of events, the man of character leaves his trace. The leader navigates between dreams and reality. Between meticulous logic and sheer madness. Obeyed and followed, is he?

The little dictator, lacking confidence, needs to surround himself with a press and a group of people who laud him, devote themselves to his personality cult, and build his hagiography. With a desire to please, he grants them everything they want.

His integrity. His honor. Unable to answer to his responsibilities, more often than not, he runs off. Taking risks is never his business.

Nor taking initiative. In the little that he undertakes, he mixes indecency and buffoonery. Through restlessness, he makes it appear to himself and others that he influences events. Without prestige and resiliency is he?

Instinct, a natural strength in a true leader, gives him illuminated judgments, the logical series of next steps to be taken. It precedes, as part of its conception, each decision. It is thanks to their instinct that he firmly grasps the deep reality surrounding him. He senses everything.

This intuition, which bestows command upon the leader, is not what Gustave Flaubert talks about in “Salammbô,” when he described Hannibal as a teenager, already carrying the traces of “the indefinable splendor of those who are destined to great enterprises”? All the great men who have marked history are endowed with this. Is it not what Alexander the Great called, more commonly, “his hope”? Caesar, “his fortune”? Napoleon, “his star”?

The leader who is thus carried by these three (3) personal qualities: character, instinct, and the ability to unify, has in his possession a certain voice quality.

Words that are capable of moving, carrying, galvanizing, and convincing, not simply with rhetorical and communicational methods, as we often see on Facebook, but because through it we hear a voice lifted by the spirit, something that one can barely make out, only through the eyes of authenticity and the angle of conviction. Thus, does this voice not phenomenalize these three ferments and does it not produce persuasion?

Until today, this country has only had little dictators, not applying themselves to prescribe what has not been prescribed by higher authority.

As much in the majority, as in the opposition. Except for the rare personalities who never had the opportunity to do their work.

Namely, the regrettable Ahmed Dini. In this vein, Raymond Aron, in his “Introduction to Weber,” summarizes in a striking formula the great distinctive traits of a leader in writing: “Man obeys leaders that custom sanctions that reason shows, that enthusiasm lifts above all others.” In other words: tradition, rationality, and charisma.

Over 58 years after our independence, The Gambia is still waiting for its prodigal sons and daughters for the country to smile again for the betterment of its citizens.

Bakary Ceesay is a Germany-based Gambian journalist, former news editor of The Voice Newspaper, and former Secretary General of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia.

His writing focuses on politics, human rights, and entertainment.