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October 22, 2012 | Feature Article

The Gambia: The case of a North Korea in the heart of West Africa

By Mathew K Jallow
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In more ways than one, the parallels are awfully striking. The similarities notorious. Even the differences are blisteringly mind-blowing and bear a downright blatant diabolical resemblance. Behind the extreme isolation and unmatched secretiveness, a self-absorbed political juggernaut of the worst type has animated a visionless maxim characterized by a brutal lethargy to any dialectics on social and economic justice, a regime stigmatized by an anathematized legacy reminisces of an era long gone and a cruel history mercilessly excoriated by time. It is a nation guided by an antediluvian axiom so traumatizing it etched a permanent mark of unbelievable guilt and shame in our collective consciousness. It is a place where time seems to have stopped and the people beaten and battered by utter neglect and unbelievable abuse have lost the will to live. For this country on the Far East edge of the Asian rim, that epitome of a pariah nation north of the dreadful DMZ, the darkness of primitive ignorance still lives on, the rivers of blood still flow senselessly on hallowed ground and a storied bygone era whose time is so long forgotten, still haunts a terrified people in a nation silenced by intimidation and the unforgiving power of fear and terror.

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Anyone ever had an urge to reach up a library shelve to grab a book, journal or magazine expose of North Korea? No! Then ready, set, Go. What you will find is a depressing reminder, not of the rebirth of the intolerable demons of Adult Hitler on steroid, but a frightening memorial to an unparalleled cruelty that has so effortlessly vexed the unflappable voices of conscience and eloquently offended the sensibilities of human compassion. It exemplifies the nauseating capacities for reptilian cruelty imposed by the privileged few who sit in judgment of a barbarized nation, a vicious cabal that stands in the way of its peoples' liberty and economic justice. If this East Asian nation exists anywhere else on the planet, it is in Africa; West Africa to be precise. North Korea and Gambia; two countries separated by wide expanses of a paradoxically harsh yet awe-strikingly beautiful geography of rugged mountains, great blue ocean and vast dimensions of rolling savannah, do in more indisputable ways than one, share haunting resemblance. But, it is not the stunning cosmic similarities of the awesome sunrises over North Korea and the allure over the magical Gambian sunset that obsesses a deep sense of anguish in our collective human consciences.

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In North Korea, decades of tyranny and mindless abandonment has forced the people to cede their rights to the state to devastating effect. The coerced and senseless subordination to state authority has effectively reduced its people into objects of sympathy and hopelessness. But, this is also Gambia's story. The detachment and insensitivity with which the Gambia is disorientated towards a culture of individuality and selfishness, has no bearing, whatsoever, on any Gambian cultural value. It is as if Yahya Jammeh drew lessons from Kim Il Sung's playbook or ripped a chapter right out of Niccole Machiavelli's tragic political gospel. True to form, Yahya Jammeh has proven every bit as cruel and narcissistic as Machiavelli would want, but in so many ways, he has also digressed from the bard's immoral political dogma with the callous and ignorant introduction of tribal bigotry and social Darwinism in Gambia society. But Yahya Jammeh is now fighting a losing battle for the survival of his doomed thousand-year Jola hegemony. The extraordinary capriciousness with which nine innocent Mile 2 Prisons prisoners were executed generated a firestorm of visceral reaction from around the globe, from both Gambians and non-Gambians alike.

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The past several years have emboldened the rise of an inordinate number of Diaspora Gambian organizations, a phenomenon inspired by the new social media and sustained by a determination to return democracy and the rule of law to the country. But, with such diverse opinions and view-points, superficial disagreements materialize every now and then, yet if Gambian organizations fail to agree on some critical issues, their differences are vastly outweighed by a common, lethal hatred of Yahya Jammeh and his clique of ignoble coconspirators. Since the cataclysmic Mile 2 Prisons' massacre elevated Yahya Jammeh's standing as a marked man to the pedestal of another African schizophrenic, Idi Amin, the senselessness of his actions are coming back to haunt him. Yahya Jammeh is inconsolably aware of a nagging feeling the curtains may soon come down, that the bright lights and the glitz and glamour of unchecked power may soon fade into distant memory, and that a nation held hostage for so long, will breathe free once again. Dr. Amadou S Janneh's release from Gambia's notorious Mile 2 Prisons, has infused a dose of new life to the liberation struggle. The world is watching and waiting; Africa needs it, ECOWAS wants it, and Gambians demand it.

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Mathew K Jallow, a Gambian writer, journalist, human rights advocate and a political activist is exiled in the US. Mr. Jallow is a foremost critic and opponent of the Gambian military regime under Yahya Jammeh.

Mathew K Jallow
Mathew K Jallow

The author has authored 65 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: MathewKJallow

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Mathew K Jallow and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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Author: Mathew K Jallow
Stories: 65 Publication(s)
Column: MathewKJallow

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