Yaya on the Press

If you heard Yaya Jammeh speak without setting foot in Gambia, you will think that his government is engaged in one of the greatest revitalization efforts ever undertaken in Africa. And the only detriment to this progress is the private press.

At first I took it as yet another cynical, politically motivated, ploy to regain the support of the Gambian electorate, who ten years ago placed so much faith in Yaya as the kind of new, young blood that the country’s entrenched, Machiavellian and ultimately self-defeating political system needed. He has a lot of explaining to do to them, and so far has been a farcical failure at it.

Yaya’s idea of development is like the 1960’s Brazilian experiment in the poor parts of Rio called City of God. Construction was never completed, the city failed to provide even the most basic services, young crime lords took over, and it soon became so vile and violent a place that even cops balked at going there. This is the scenario we have in Yaya Jammeh’s Gambia. White elephant projects with no economic viability are the order of the day. The crime seems to be committed by those members of the press who point this out. They are branded as un-patriotic and that famous phrase “what has Jawara’s government done” is bandied around as if that is the answer in of itself. Violent crime is on the rise in a place once prevalent with Gambia no problem garbs. I guess the government can put that as well on reporters.

Gambia, as our inept, disappointing, self-reverential president apparently would like us to believe is doing just fine but for the rantings of those good for nothing journalist who dare question the policies he instituted. But the question he needs to be asking himself is why the Gambia he is governing, is one that echoes the slums of Rio with their violence, corruption and official neglect, places where lights don’t light, trash and filth cover the streets, and undereducated, underserved children in shocking numbers wonder the streets hungry. All this, while their powerful, moneyed neighbors and representatives pretend either that such a world doesn’t exist on the other side of their backyard fence, or that it doesn’t affect them if it does. The president in all likelihood doesn’t understand that it doesn’t take a reporters notebook to see this happening across the Gambia. The most dangerous thing about all of this is that Yaya Jammeh has come to believe in the words of the sycophants that surrounds him that all is well in the country and that he is the best thing that ever happen to that nation. And that the press is just another element of the opposition who don’t want to see any thing positive happen…this is an entrenched notion in his psyche and it is deadly


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