Alagi Yorro Jallow

Mamudu: Sometimes, self-criticism is necessary for us to make progress. You may not agree with what I am going to say about what was wrong with public intellectuals?

The progressive intellectuals and the dilemmas of democratic commitment of a group of Gambian academics, scholars and intellectuals during and the aftermath of the military dictatorship in the Gambia.

The great dull mass of the educated who just don’t care. They have let the Gambia down badly by not providing intellectual leadership to the democratic struggle.

Mamudu: One of the tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between law and moral or ethical rules accepted by a community of people; between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of them tragically divided against themselves.

On the one hand, they proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, they sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are their lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! they talk eloquently about their commitment to the principles of patriotism, and yet their lives are saturated with the practices of treasonable acts.

They proclaim their devotion to democracy, but they sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed. They talk passionately about peace, and at the same time they assiduously prepare for war. They make their fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then they tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice.

This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.

Mamudu: So, former President Yahya Jammeh and his administration were a problem insofar as they appeared to have provoked a huge support from the mass educated of men and women and, more generally, the elite intellectuals, conscientious and conscious citizens. That, however, was the worst of it for the Gambia.

“He who doesn’t know where he came from doesn’t know where is going,” says an African proverb. The Gambian intellectual community were lost; they don’t know where they were going. It seems they were way behind the curve, early to the struggle for democracy in the Gambia and are only playing “catch-up”.

The July 22 military coup caught many Gambians completely off guard. They did not see it coming because they were pre-occupied elsewhere. As a result, they have become irrelevant to the struggle. The youth, who were driving the struggle for change, no longer listen or look up to them. They have failed them. In fact, Africa’s post-colonial record of advancing the cause of liberty in Africa has been abysmal.

Afflicted with “intellectual astigmatism,” they can see with eagle-eyed clarity the injustices perpetrated against Africans by the white colonialists and the West. But they are hopelessly blind to the equally heinous injustices committed by African leaders against their own people.

Too many intellectuals sold their integrity, principles and conscience to serve the dictates of tyrannical and barbarous African regimes. Military brutes could always find intellectuals and professors to serve at their beck and call. Some of them even preferred military to civilian rule.

According to Colonel. Yohanna A. Madaki (rtd), when General Gowon drew up plans to return Nigeria to civil rule in 1970, “academicians began to present well researched papers pointing to the fact that military rule was the better preferred option since the civilians had not learned any lessons sufficient enough to be entrusted with the governance of the country” (Post Express, 12 Nov 1998, 5).

Imagine. Instead of Yahya Jammeh, the mass Gambia’s educated elites and the “public Intellectuals “who enabled him since day one and continue to enable him. The Gambia’s public intellectuals: ” They were their jumping jacks, Yahya pull the strings and they dance. Their talents, their possibilities and their lives are all the property of Yahya Jammeh.

They are intellectual prostitutes” aiding and abetting Yahya to cling to power. They are doing the same for President Adama Barrow.

The business of Gambia’s intellectuals in today’s has always been to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify fawn at the feet of a mammoth, and to sell their country and race for daily bread. They know it and Gambians know it, and the folly is this toasting and serving a dictator.