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An advice to Prexy Barrow: get a grip by leading New Gambia to a glorious sunny land


An Open Letter to The President

Dear President Adama Barrow, I hope you will take kindly, with kindred spirit, the content of this letter, which proffers you advice on how you can set The New Gambia train moving towards an opulent, glorious sunny land. To rattle off, a bit of analogy and historical context will do: “Deus ex machina” is how the phlegmatic former Harvard philosopher of Brazilian descent, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, described such fortuitous calamity-induced opening: when schemes of things are upended politically, economically and socially there is always an enormous opportunity to introduce change to set things right. Unger was admonishing one of his brightest students who was then the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama in David Remnick’s gritty detailed biography of Obama entitled: The Bridge: The Rise and Life of Obama. After the 2008 economic crash and the disastrous war in Iraq, huge failings were exposed within US institutions and the distorted, dishonest and damaging actions by official movers and shakers of some of the gargantuan US government cog machine. Ordinary Americans were harrying Obama to go for the bank barons, whose dereliction of duty caused the crash in the first place by taking advantage of shady loopholes in the system. People on the left, even left-of-center (the political landscape Obama occupied and led) urged him to have the political spine and pine for ordinary Americans, who bore the brunt of the banker’s decision and picked the tabs for the disaster they wrought. Unger, as a respected voice on the left and as is his wont, lent credence to this point of view. Cue to his sharp political acumen, Barack Obama listened, responded and delivered – albeit modestly to Unger’s liking, understandably so, for pure electoral reasons and avoiding to yawn the aperture between the Democrats and big business - using the aftermath of the 2008 financial to curtail the power of bankers, set up robust rules and regulations and gave rigorous incremental power to fiscal oversight bodies in the Senate and House of Representatives. Today both the Left and the Right in US politics, even the Far-Right, the Donald Trump base and the bête noire of everything Obama stands for, agreed that these fundamental reforms were right. Deal sealed: Obama used a crisis as an opportunity to set the US on a course-correction. History, yes political history, is littered with tales and legends of leaders using their head after a crisis to shuttle their countries towards, or to, pole positions: Franklin Delano Roosevelt using the 1939 Great Depression in the US to usher in Prosperity with his successful strings of policies couched as the New Deal, Clement Attlee, the Labour British Prime Minister after the second World War, built a war-torn country from the ashes of the war, introducing big social reforms and institutions, such as the National Health Service (NHS) ( thanks to the archetypical social justice crusader Aneurin Bevan) , which to this day benefits Britons. And, closer to home, Nelson Mandela used post-apartheid South Africa to dismantle the skewed institution and apparatus of apartheid. In the twilight days of 2016, a “deux ex machina” klaxon signalled that change is needed in Gambia, after former derring-do, mutton-headed muguwump dictator, Yahya Jammeh, was booted out of power by the people’s wish and will at the ballot box. His politics, for 22 years, was divisive as his policies were bordering on the comical. As the unknown political quantity to have emerged President, Adama Barrow, you had a rendezvous with history to set Jammeh’s follies and anomalies right. But so far you and your government are dithering and flailing. For every transformative political change to be translated into meaningful things for people it needs ELE: Events that will bring the upheaval, a Leader who will shape the event, with his/her (team) and Ideas. In the Gambia, the event happened, the leader was elected to lead it, but you and your team are, like a panda-like passivity, bereft of ideas on how to shape this wave of change to benefit Gambians. And the resultant effect: Gambians, so euphoric and enthusiastic after a change of government, are despondent, despaired and dispirited at the current direction of travel the country is taking. The buck stops with you President Barrow. You have got to take responsibility: roll up your sleeves, dive in to your thinking bunker with your intellectual blood banks (your aides and advisers) and come up with grand, grandiose and sweeping ideas that would rejig The Gambia on the path to prosperity, jobs and opportunity for young people, build an economy that can power public services people depend on: schools, health centers, government institutions, roads, uninterrupted water and electricity supply. GEAR The Gambia towards prosperity There seems to be muddled thinking at the heart of your government.


Amadou camara

Amadou Camara studied Political Science at the university of The Gambia. He worked as editor of The Standard newspaper in The Gambia before moving to the United States where he lives with his family.

Editor’s note:

Views expressed in the letter as those of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of this medium.


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