Njundu Drammeh

The elitist nature of political parties, call it pluralism if you like, is the 419, the indescribable fraudster. It typifies the classic “monkeys sweat and sacrifice and baboons share the booty of the bush amongst themselves”….

The people who sacrifice their all- time, meagre resources, lives, friendship, relation, sweat, etc- for the growth of a political party are its foot soldiers, ordinary card carrying members. They nurse and nurture political parties. They are its foundational blocks. Come hell or high waters, they will brave to vote. They can kill or be killed for their party.

But when that party comes to power, it is the elite who scoop everything. They run away with the prizes, at a canter. “You know only educated people can handle these positions” is the excuse everyone gives. “Summer soldiers and sunshine boys”…..

Yesterday at the Solo Sandeng memorial inaugural lecture held at the Law Faculty hall, Mr. Falang Sonko spoke in Ollof about his great friendship with Solo Sandeng, the high dreams they had for UDP and The Gambia, their faith in the face of adversity, their tenacity and courage to take on injustice and tyranny.

He went down memory lane on that fateful day of 14th April 2016 when he, Solo Sandeng and their other comrades went to Westfield to demand for electoral reform, aware of the consequences but galvanised by the simple belief that if the Gambia was to live in freedom and dignity someone would have to fight for her, imbued by a sheer sense of patriotism and nationalism, actuated by nothing but love for country and her freedom from bondage.

Then the poignant, incisive, truth, the most telling, unforgettable part of his speech (snippets which have been etched in my heart)…..”We seem to have been forgotten. On the day we went out, no educated Gambian was with us. They were no where to be found….. But now they tell us the posts are for educated people.

We are not asking for any post; we want work that would enable us earn decent living…… When my comrades were alive I used to visit their families every other day; now it takes me 2 months or so to visit them because I don’t have money to give the families….. We have not had proper medical care….. We are dying one by one. I can even die tomorrow because only I know what I feel in my body…..” Deep, touching, sorrowful.

When politics becomes elitist and elites hijack political parties, the foot soldier becomes the cat’s paw to take out the doughnuts. The foot soldiers sacrifice their lives and after their death, the elite come to have field day. Look around the world and check the nature of political parties….

As for us, it would be the highest betrayal if we forget the sacrifices of Solo Sandeng, Falang Sonko and their comrades or fail to ensure the living and the families of the martyrs have lives of dignity, free from fear of want. The obligation is on the State and it cannot shrink from that onus.

Throughout history the elite have never been the friend of the poor; but rather its exploiter, its behaviour patronising at most.