I hear them folks say “Barrow is playing Jammeh’s politics” and I wonder what that statement really means. There is nothing Jammehist about realpolitik; nothing Barrowist either. Politics is what one makes it, a good for the people or a tool to self perpetuate, for self aggrandizement and to wreak havoc.
A day’s stay in power, assumed through politics, is sufficient to unravelled who one truly and really is. And that is what power does: it reveals a person’s true character. Nothing Jammehist about that also.
The bad name or cesspool or miasma of evils that politics is now associated with, anyone who wants to “success” it is expected to rise up to the name, to live up to its expectations. Barrow is in realpolitik now where “survival” skills come in handy; where you either eat up or you are eaten up; where all is fair or all is foul. Two choices are often available to the one in realpolitik: to be ethical and transformational or to be Machiavellian and transactional. One can lead to a cul-de-sac, as narrow and less travelled by; the other can lead to longevity but fraught with mishaps and pitfalls.
Like Jammeh, Barrow knows that to survive in realpolitik, he has to play by the rules of realpolitik: adept at political manipulations, patronage and bribery; play soft and hard; use cat’s paws to do one’s shenanigans; abandon or betray old friends; use coercion if necessary; use State apparatuses and organs to promote one’s political agenda; capitalise on incumbency; master the art of political demagoguery. You have to know how to be a fox and a lion. Anything below par, can cost dearly in realpolitik. Jammeh just went too far; broken all rules of the game and let pride cloud his thinking. Barrow might not go down that route but we should watch out for the behaviour of State apparatuses and fawning attitude of people. Dictators are created by these too.
Barrow is in realpolitik. He will play by these rules. He wants to survive in politics too. Politics might not be a zero sum game but only those who understand the rules of this game survive in it for long. It might be the primrose path to self destruction but the sweetness and privileges it offers can blind one.
We wish him well…. It is dog eats dog game. To be or not be