It is rather unfortunate that some of our positions are stuck in myopic and unthinking hubris masked in sanctimonious fidelity to the law. “The law is the law”. “A conviction is a conviction.” I mean, to take the position that because Ousainou Darboe was “convicted” by Jammeh’s evil government, and as such, this conviction should bar him from contesting the presidency is the height of unimaginative reasoning! Or, is it just a case of accepting any “dirt” on your opponent even if it is not “dirt”.
And that is what we call politics? This is what happens when a people allow themselves to be leashed on dogmatic ideas that are not theirs to begin with. For context, I’m also a convict and a very proud one at that if I may add. I never entertained the suggestion of erasing my conviction when the idea was broached. That is because I am proud of my actions and will do the same a million times over if presented with the same situation of rape and murder.
I’m sure that if you were to ask Ousainou, he would tell you that he would do what he did a billion times over if presented with the kidnap and murder of his people. If what he did was “criminal”, he wouldn’t take that position. That should tell you something! But if you’re stuck on dogma and blinded by “the law is the law” nonsense, you won’t be able to see beyond your nose to contextualize anything.
This simplistic thought that because Darboe was “convicted”, he’s therefore a “criminal”, and he cannot be eligible to run for office in Gambia is as backward and myopic as saying that Nelson Mandela is a criminal because he was convicted by the apartheid regime! As with most things we use against each other, our so called criminal justice system is based on colonial and Western ideas that are not ours to begin with. And if there was any institution at the forefront of abusing Gambians, it is the so called “Judiciary” with Yaya’s various spineless attorneys general, magistrates and judges who did his bidding with so much wanton alacrity!
Not sure if it is lazy thinking that just won’t allow us to contextualize anything, or if it’s simple and willful refusal to accept reality, but considering Ousainou a “criminal” is truly unfortunate and callous. I mean we can have our differences with Ousainou and not support his quest for the presidency and that’s all well and good, but to accept that because he was “convicted” by Yaya’s runaway judiciary, ergo, he is a criminal, is to also accept that Nelson Mandela was a criminal and so was Malcolm X and many others.
Our fidelity to the laws is washy washy at best and opportunistic at its finest. A father that kills the man he found raping his daughter is a killer and not a protector! If he’s convicted, he too would be considered a “criminal” and not eligible to run! That’s the height of unimaginative thinking! Surely we can do better than such backward and myopic thinking! And then to be debating on who gets credit for the freedom of Ousainou and his colleagues is actually embarrassing if you ask me. What I would rather focus on is how laws that are meant to protect us were used to abuse us and why some of us chose to pretend as if all was ok with that abuse, while others pretended that they didn’t know of the abuse!
By Alagie Saidy Barrow