Bye Ba­bili Mansa: The phony ‘lord of lords’

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

SO, fi­nally, His Ex­cel­lency, Sheikh Pro­fes­sor Al­haji Doc­tor Yahya Ab­dul Aziz Awal Je­mus Junkung Jam­meh Naasiru Deen Ba­bili Mansa, Com­man­der in Chief of the Armed Forces and Chief Cus­to­dian of the Sa­cred Con­sti­tu­tion of the Gam­bia, Lord of all Lords and King of all Kings has fi­nally de­cided to call it quits.

The story of this un­re­con­structed idiot and military buf­foon would be laugh­able if it were not so tragic. Tragic for this peren­ni­ally blighted con­ti­nent.

For the ben­e­fit of my fel­low Ba­sotho whose minds re­side in the moun­tains, far flung from the world of cur­rent af­fairs, I will briefly recap the story of this young man who was known sim­ply as Yayha Jam­meh be­fore power got into his empty head and he gave him­self the out­landish ti­tle above.

On 1 De­cem­ber 2016, Jam­meh, who had ruled the tiny sliver of land called Gam­bia for 22 years, lost elec­tions to an op­po­si­tion can­di­date Adama Bar­row. Af­ter los­ing that elec­tion, the un­think­able hap­pened.

Jam­meh, known for his cru­elty and leg­endary hu­man rights abuses, called Bar­row to con­grat­u­late him and wish him well.

“The Gam­bian peo­ple have spo­ken. They have de­cided that I should take a back seat. I will pass the ba­ton to you Mr Bar­row and I wish you well. You are now the demo­crat­i­cally-elected Pres­i­dent of Gam­bia.

Con­grat­u­la­tions…..” Jam­meh told Bar­row in a can­did tele­phone call broad­cast on the state owned tele­vi­sion sta­tion.

Your lady Scru­ta­tor fol­lows and knows the politics of Africa (from Cape to Cairo) like the back of my palm. Or just as good as I know the po­lit­i­cal story of Le­sotho from Ha Hohlo to Mokhot­long with all its main play­ers, pre­tenders and the nu­mer­ous also-rans.

Though Uganda’s Idi Amin butchered more of his coun­try­men than did Jam­meh, the two were evenly matched in terms of crass buf­foon­ery. Both rose to power in military coups. Jam­meh seized power, from in­de­pen­dence time leader Sir Dawda Jawara, as a young military of­fi­cer (aged 29) in 1994.

One of the rea­sons ad­vanced by Jam­meh then for top­pling Jawara was that the lat­ter was steal­ing man­goes, the Gam­bia’s main ex­port prod­uct then, along­side ground­nuts.

Who­ever drew the bound­aries of the Gam­bia as a na­tion state must have a very good sense of hu­mour. The coun­try is a tiny sliver of land wholly sur­rounded by Sene­gal with a nar­row At­lantic coast­line. It is split into two parts by the Gam­bia River which runs through it. The Gam­bia is in­deed very tiny place of only 1.9 mil­lion peo­ple. It is Africa’s tini­est coun­try. It is only 11 295 square kilo­me­tres in size.

One fifth of that com­prises of wa­ter that makes up the Gam­bian River. Its an­nual GDP is about US$1 bil­lion, mean­ing that Ro­man Abramovich can buy the coun­try six times over. On the whole map of Africa, the Gam­bia looks ab­surd if not ob­scene. I could never un­der­stand what the hell the colo­nial­ists had in mind in par­ti­tion­ing the Gam­bia from Sene­gal in the man­ner they did. That’s a story for an­other day how­ever. Back to Jam­meh.

Over the 22 years he has ruled this tiny en­clave, Jam­meh dis­tin­guished him­self as Africa’s No 1 lu­natic. Ex­cept that his lu­nacy is very tragic. He has mur­dered or tor­tured hun­dreds of his op­po­nents and crit­ics. He has threat­ened to be­head gays. He vowed to close any ho­tel or B& B out­let which ac­com­mo­dated a gay per­son.

More bizarrely, he has claimed to have in­vented a con­coc­tion, com­pris­ing of ba­nana leaves that “cures” Aids in three days. He also claimed to com­mand mys­ti­cal pow­ers to cure in­fer­til­ity in women. He claimed Al­lah had or­dained him to rule for one bil­lion years.

While Jam­meh lav­ished him­self with Rolls Royce, Bent­leys, Mercedes, lav­ish homes in Dubai, Morocco and the USA, more than 80 per­cent of his peo­ple live on less than 50 cents a day. No won­der why Gam­bia, on a com­par­a­tive scale, com­mands the high­est num­ber of Africans flee­ing into Europe.

Any­one in doubt that Jam­meh is a mad idiot would have been left in no doubt of the fact when the ec­cen­tric Gam­bian ruler gave him­self the grandiose ti­tle of “His Ex­cel­lency, Sheikh Pro­fes­sor AL haji Doc­tor Yahya Ab­dul Aziz Awal Je­mus Junkung Jam­meh Naasiru Deen Ba­bili Mansa, Com­man­der in Chief of the Armed Forces and Chief Cus­to­dian of the Sa­cred Con­sti­tu­tion of the Gam­bia, Lord of all Lords and King of all Kings.”

If he had not been forced out of power, it is said that Jam­meh was about to be­stow upon him­self the ad­di­tional ti­tle of “Ad­mi­ral in the Great Navy of the State of Ne- braska”. Ap­par­ently the gov­er­nor of the US State of Nebraska had sug­gested the ac­co­lade while crack­ing a joke with Jam­meh and the for­mer Gam­bian “leader” took it se­ri­ously.

Elec­tions Jam­meh won dur­ing his ten­ure were rou­tinely rigged forc­ing the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS) to refuse to send ob­servers. When vot­ing Gam­bians use mar­bles, which they throw into a drum de­pict­ing their can­di­date, in­stead of bal­lot boxes.

It is against this back­ground of Jam­meh’s un­pararelled po­lit­i­cal buf­foon­ery that it came as a shock that he con­ceded de­feat in his coun­try’s 1 De­cem­ber 2017 poll.

For us who have fol­lowed this clown, it did not come as a sur­prise when he re­neged on his de­ci­sion to ac­cept de­feat just a few days later and an­nounced that he was no longer go­ing to ac­cept his op­po­nent Bar­row’s vic­tory cit­ing some elec­toral ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. Jam­meh then can­celled the re­sults of the polls he had lost. He re­fused to hand-over power to Bar­row and called for fresh elec­tions.

He de­clared a state of emergency, forc­ing Bar­row, the vic­tor, to flee to Sene­gal in­stead of be­ing sworn in to start his new term as pres­i­dent.

Africa was dumb­founded. The world was shocked. But not lady Scru­ta­tor. This be­hav­iour was typ­i­cal of Jam­meh.

How­ever, Jam­meh was un­lucky enough to live in a re­gion were there is noth­ing called SADC or the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC). But he had to con­tend with the might ECOWAS. If SADC ex­isted in West Africa, Jam­meh would most prob­a­bly be still in power. For­tu­nately, it doesn’t.

ECOWAS would have none of Jam­meh’s an­tics. It gave Jam­meh an ul­ti­ma­tum to leave power or be forced out mil­i­tar­ily.

About 8 000 troops from West African troops in­vaded Gam­bia, af­ter sev­eral rounds of talks with West African lead­ers had failed to move Jam­meh. In fact the buf­foon had de­nied land­ing rights to the plane of Ellen John­son Sir­leaf, the lady pres­i­dent of Liberia and cur­rent chair­man of ECOWAS, when she ini­tially tried to land in the Gam­bia to knock some sense into Jam­meh’s empty head.

Other mis­sions in­volv­ing other West African lead­ers led by Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­mad Buhari had failed. Mean­while in nearby Ghana, there had been a peace­ful han­dover of power from in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent John Ma­hama who con­ceded de­feat to Nana Akufo-addo.

As ECOWAS troops ap­proached Ban­jul, the cap­i­tal of Gam­bia, Jam­meh had no op­tion but to con­cede that the time for his clown­ish be­hav­iour was now up. He re­scinded his de­ci­sion not to ac­cept the re­sults and an­nounced a new one to ac­cept them. He then asked to be al­lowed to go to his vil­lage to be­come a farmer but ECOWAS lead­ers in­sisted he had to go into ex­ile.

He was then shipped to the equally in­con­gru­ous Equa­to­rial Guinea, an­other tiny coun­try run by an­other mad-man who goes by the name Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mba­sogo, who seized power in a bloody coup from his un­cle, in 1979. Obiang Nguema Mba­sogo, ac­cord­ing to the Lon­don In­de­pen­dent news­pa­per, is al­leged to of­ten kill and eat the tes­ti­cles of his dead op­po­nents.

As a fi­nal show­case of his an­thro­po­log­i­cal stu­pid­ity, Jam­meh de­manded that he be al­lowed to carry many of his spe­cial toys bought by funds stolen from the Gam­bian peo­ple. A cargo plane was on hand to ferry his Rolls Royce, Bent­ley and Mercedes Benz ve­hi­cles. A dozen other cars were to fol­low him. Jam­meh then tried to break the Cen­tral Bank of Gam­bia to try and steal US$12 mil­lion but he was stopped.

Why have I de­cided to fo­cus en­tirely on this idiot called Jam­meh this week? Be­cause politi­cians of his ilk not only dis­grace and shame Africa, they also de­mean the en­tire black race.

I have also fo­cused on this Jam­meh is­sue be­cause it shames SADC, our mostly use­less re­gional body that has cheered while dic­ta­tors like Robert Mu­gabe and Joseph Ka­bila, among oth­ers, cling to power by hook and crook. Surely, SADC must be sent on a crush course at ECOWAS to learn about the ba­sics of democ­racy and how to gov­ern for the peo­ple.

True to form only Botswana’s Ian Khama was the only south­ern African leader to stand up and con­demn Jam­meh.

He an­nounced that Botswana had sev­ered all ties with Gam­bia and would no longer recog­nise Jam­meh. The rest kept mum. Shame on you SADC and all your so called lead­ers, ex­cept the beloved sol­dier Ian Khama of course.

The ques­tion can also be asked; If SADC was ef­fec­tive would be this King­dom be in cri­sis. Me thinks not.

The chal­lenge of course is to en­sure that we never breed lead­ers like Jam­meh. This means no Bokang Ra­matšella should be seen any­where near our Par­lia­ment.


Botswana Pres­i­dent Ian Khama

Gam­bian for­mer pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh.

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