An elated Gambian journalist living in exile for 15 years, says for once, after 22 years the Gambian people got it right and he is packing to return home.
Sheriff Junior who has been in self-imposed exile in Dakar, Senegal believes that the election results reflect the collective will and voice of the Gambian people, the maturity of the people, and as he prepares to return home, he wants to remember The Gambia without Jammeh.
“We got it wrong for 22 years and thanks to the spirit of unity, love and determination we got it right on Thursday. I’ve never been this proud of our people and their desire to bring sanity back to our dear country after 22 years of insanity,” he told ghanabusinessnews.com in an exclusive interview held through Facebook.
Junior believes that the outcome of the polls show the strength of the Gambian people.
“It shows that power belongs to the people and it also sends a message to everybody in the world that yes, even the most brutal dictators who think they are greater than God can be voted out of power,” he said.
Asked if he thinks the euphoria will turn into positives like freedom of expression, economic growth, peace and stability?
Junior said it has to, adding, “The new government and any other government from now on will not enjoy any Carte Blanche to govern as they wish. As Gambians, we either get what is in the collective interest of the country and the citizenry or we change the status quo. 22 years of Jammeh’s barbaric regime was a phase for us, and it will never happen again. I hope the new government understands that and does good to the people.”
We can debate about what was positive and negative about Jammeh’s rule. But it is a chapter in our history that I will try to erase from my memory. For 22 years, we forgot our oneness as a nation. We were turned against each other, families were torn apart, our sense of purpose was taken away, fear and hatred took over and our existence as a people vanished. The Gambia I want to remember is the one without Jammeh. The rest will be history.
On how he came to be living and working in Senegal, he said; “I’ve been in Senegal for nine years. Before that I was in the UK. So yes I’ve been away from the Gambia in self-imposed exile for 15 years because the atmosphere back home wasn’t conducive. Journalists were arrested for being journalists, tortured and held incommunicado. One was killed, another one disappeared, some had electric shocks applied to their genitals, others were cut with bayonets, and the list goes on. So in order to stay alive and tell the stories of the Gambian most journalists had to flee. I’m one of them.”
You might have been hoping for this day, but did you think it was going to happen this time?
“A week before the election I suspected it was possible having closely monitored The Gambia and the massive participation of the citizens, but then a few hours before the polls opened I lost hope. I started questioning everything I thought could propel the opposition into victory, so when it was all over I could not believe it. It’s still surreal,” he said.
You did indicate on a Facebook post that you are ready to head back home, how soon are you leaving, as Jammeh would only hand over in some 60 days time?
“I’m going back home before the handing over. I want to be part of those journalists who witness the last days of Jammeh and the beginning of the rebirth of The Gambia.
So 60 days will seem like 60 months to me right now. I’m getting set to go soon. We are free at last,” he said.
His verdict on Jammeh’s 22 years
“We can debate about what was positive and negative about Jammeh’s rule. But it is a chapter in our history that I will try to erase from my memory. For 22 years, we forgot our oneness as a nation. We were turned against each other, families were torn apart, our sense of purpose was taken away, fear and hatred took over and our existence as a people vanished. The Gambia I want to remember is the one without Jammeh. The rest will be history,” he said.
What are your expectations of Adama Barrow?
“I expect him to listen to the people. I expect him to be a servant of the people and not their ruler. I expect him to lure foreign investors and partners back into The Gambia, so that our economy can boom again. He will be under no immediate pressure to provide jobs because Gambians are creative and they want to create their own businesses, so he will be under pressure to create a conducive and economically-sexy atmosphere for the young people to create their own jobs and prosper,” he said.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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