OPINION: Reflections on the Days of a Tyrant in the Rain
At the dawn of that fateful Friday birds got into the presidential palace by pecking through the screens of the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings disturbed the stagnant time inside. And at dawn on Saturday the city awoke out of its lethargy of 22 years with the warm ,soft breeze of a tyrant defenestrated, the spirit of a once powerful tyrant defeated and rotting grandeur.
Former Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh ruled the West African nation with an iron fist Only then did many have the heart to go in without attacking the robust walls of reinforced concrete, and without using cars with arms as the more resolute had wished in days past and tried so many times with such stinging dearth of success that spirits were sapped of hope. Because all that was needed was for the Senegalese commandos to show up and the brave soldiers of the presidential guard gave way. It was like gaining entry into the atmosphere of another age because fear and cowardice had taken over the vast lair of power whose human personification, Yahya Jammeh, did not believe the gods of his ancestors would call time on his reign until the ancient forests of Kanilai long appeased with sacrifice of the blood and souls of his enemies marched through the streets of his lamentable excuse of a capital. We saw the battle field anarchy of offices, kitchens and clothes rotting in the blazing, tropical sun, the rooms shared by soldiers and concubines and the government headquarters looked immense and sad. And Jammeh was not there inclined on his vast bed as he had done everyday that passed in the sky in his ever so long life of a solitary despot. Even then we did not dare believe in the end of his time because it’s not the first time he had been deemed so;removed and banished by men born of women as had been announced a long time ago in the prophetic waters of soothsayers’ basins. The first time they thought him removed he had been at the dying days of the year 2014, and the nation was still lively enough for him to feel menaced by death even in the solitude of his refuge in far away lands . And still he governed as if he was predestined never to die. In his glory days he had presided over the traffic of whores and soldiers and dispensed destinies of who gets to have jobs and even who gets to live. No one knew who was who or by whom in that State House of revolving doors in the grand disorder of which it was impossible to locate the government. The man of the palace not only participated in that national disaster but he had set it up himself and ruled over it. As soon as armored cars hit the tarmac on this soil so often conflated with his personal property, the presidential guards gave news of the perils of the new day to the nearby Hamza Barracks and from there it was repeated to the Fajarra Baracks and from there to Yundum to other checkpoints that would first awaken the city and the whole country while he groaned on his golden latrine trying to stifle with his quaking hands the palpitations of his heart. Everyday ever since he had taken possession of power and State House, he had personally supervised the security of the capital, but on this day he saw the ephemeral love of men without love. These were the people who spoke thesame language as he and whose hearts he thought he best deciphered. Yet it never prepared him to confront the hazards of reality. Previously, during the days of his glory in power, he would sit himself in his office to decide the destiny of the nation with command of the armed forces and sign all manners of laws and decrees with his thumb print for in those days he did not know how to read or write. But when they left him alone with his nation and his power he didn’t raise his blood pressure with the sluggishness of written law, but governed orally and physically, present in every moment and everywhere with uncontrollable greed ,but also with a diligence inconceivable of his image, besieged by mobs of beggars, blind people and cripples who begged for salvation from his hand , and lettered politicians and dauntless adulators who proclaimed him the builder of bridges, builder of schools, master of the Jinns, defender of the faith and corrector of errors of god . God damn it this is me,he asked, because he could not believe in his wildest imaginations that a boy from a hamlet in Kanilai could have such power and effect over men more privileged than him. He became convinced of the vanity of power and by this time he had already survived 7 coup attempts. He had got a massive boost in his business as vendor of miracles. He became savvy and covetous to the point of torture and took over profitable private businesses and properties. He renounced communism for capitalism and confronted the most terrible risks to his power, laying corner stones for him to rule till the end of time. He couldn’t fathom losing all those ephemeral and unattainable beauty queens, for he had become resigned forever to live a destiny that was not his. He did not do it out of greed or conviction because he could have exchanged his lifetime job of a tyrant for an ordinary man with the advantage of living like a king without the calamity of being one. This is the kind of trouble a man gets into when he gets all tied up with power. Even in the withering desolation of exile in Equatorial Guinea he has found that there is no break to this drama of being a fugitive that comes with the persistent hounding by commissions of enquiry and human rights victims. And then Saul Badjie of his misfortune would apprise him of the demise of his mother. I’m deeply sorry General, he said ,his mum had no need to die in Equatorial Guinea but in his own country and her own time of natural causes in her sleep as has been predicted since the beginning of her days. And not even that way, because his mother didn’t bring him into this world to bury her in exile with all its humiliation and deprivation ,but to give commands. I pay no heed to your news of my misfortune, he would say, because I am what I am, and not you. So give thanks to God this is only fake news as Donald Trump would lambast fake media. He thanked God and Saul Badjie it was only fake news not having imagined then or ever that the terrible joke about fake news was to come true that day of his misfortune. He found his mum in a state of submission to demands of death, hopeless with no chance of resurrection. But hey, these are just reflections on the days of a tyrant in the rain.