Njundu Drammeh

A year ago on December 1st, we made a tyrst with destiny and at the polls we cast away the yoke of tyranny which was like an albatross around the nation’s neck. The time has come to renew that pledge, the oath of “never again”, to remember and appreciate the sacrifice of men and women who endured privation, torture, imprisonment, death and exile.

It is time for national reflection, a kind of introspective retrospection, of the past 22 years, of how a nation once touted as the beacon of human rights and democracy became a tyranny and a pariah nation; how and why the “Smiling Coast” accepted to be subdued, bullied, hurt, traumatized, tyrannised and stifled for 22 years; of what went amiss and what needs to be in place to prevent or perpetually check the repeat of its dark history.

Freedom is “free” but it is kept and maintained at a big price, at the invaluable price of eternal vigilance. Otherwise it gets lost or becomes illusive or illusionary. And those who have lost freedom for 22 years must put up mechanisms, standards, processes and systems to safeguard their hard won freedoms and rights.

Freedom is “free” but it take one with a broad heart both to give and take. Givers and takers who are seized with the urgency to always regard their possession as “common and public property” and its security a common obligation.

Freedom is lost when the former oppressed become new oppressors and deny others what they so gallantly fought to get, as oppressed people.

Freedom is lost when majoritarian tyranny becomes the other of the day and minority rights are disregarded with impunity.

Freedom is lost when a penalty, big or small, is attached to the expression of one’s views or opinions however much detestable one finds them.

Freedom is lost when the rest of society insulates or disconnects itself from the violation of just one’s person’s right or freedom, feigning ignorance or apathy.

Freedom is lost when people are not ready to fight for it when directly attacked or violated

Freedom is lost when people think freedom is a celebratory event not an everyday struggle against political apathy, an ember which must be kept glowing continually.

Freedom is lost when one group thinks it is the one entitled to enjoy freedom at the exclusion of all others because only it fought for the freedom.

Freedom is lost when corruption becomes a norm and the people celebrate corrupt people and malign honest ones.

Freedom is lost when accountability and transparency are disregarded or when we expect these from others, not ourselves or our friends.

Freedom is lost when society’s intellectuals refuse to speak up against injustice even when they have the opportunity to do; when they anaesthesised themselves from the ills of society as solitary beings.

Freedom is lost when all that the people want is freedom from responsibility, when by the possession of freedom they think they can go to sleep satisfied that the guards would always act in they best interest.

Freedom is free for a people who appreciate its intrinsic value and worth and wish it for all, not just allies and followers.

Long Live The Gambia