Supporters gather outside the home of the Gambia’s president-elect, Adama Barrow, in Banjul. Photograph: Dawda Bayo/AP

(JollofNews) – Let peace and tranquility ring from Kartong to Koina in the Gambia. 32-years and then 22-years of misrule and opportunistic collaborators of the first republic and then by the second republic that were and are characterised by several variables in common.

These are “government by “musical chair”, who you know, which tribe and region you are from, and who is related to whom by blood or marriage. These are the true characteristics of the first republic and the second republic. It was an open secret to all Gambians, especially those in the rural areas and those who are considered a minority by all statistics and variables. Students in the rural communities were marginalised and tracked into technical secondary schools, though they have clearly passed the Common Entrance Examination by a wider margin than an “urban” or “majority group” affiliated students.

The author has been a victim of such insidious and prejudicial behavior during the first republic. Yes, the second republic has its sins and deeds that individuals and groups who are found involved in crimes against the Gambian people should be charged and tried, or brought before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of eminent leaders both from within and outside.

Like the first republic, the second republic is not all good or all bad. There are in both camps, the good, the bad and the ugly. Not in artificial looks, but in behaviour and actions or inaction. Any suggestions or attempt to single out one ethnic group for punishment would be met with an equal and opposite respond that would only increase and advance the interest of those who subscribe to the “inbox” of tribal and sectoinalist hate mongering.

Time and time again, the Gambia has been send barreling toward the abyss, only to be stopped from self annihilation by both it’s people’s practical, rational and peace-loving nature, choosing to act and think and act as a united people, instead of as a balkanised people along the blurred tribal lines.

Gambians need to be accountable for their personal choices and decisions that they make on a daily basis. Conversely, they cannot put on blinders to the prevailing insidious economic, political and social marginalisation of any ethnic group and expect that status to endure.

Gambians have to be honest in their respective inner demons and accept that the nature of our tendency to disregard the previous economic, political and social marginalisation had to be addressed and resolved. If we, all Gambians fail to have a moment of “the looking glass self”, and endeavour to come together and closer as one, we would live to repeat the sins of the first republic and maybe those of the second republic.

Treating the symptoms and not the disease, would have the wrong outcome and not the desired impact or outcome. The Gambia is more than the sum total of one ethnic group. It is also not a monarchy of any kind. No one ethnic group or region is responsible for the status quo both in the first republic and the second republic. It has been our propensity toward Carrying our dirty laundry around, while pretentiously convincing ourselves otherwise.

It is time, we open our eyes, to put it coloqually that is, and put down our national dirty laundry of ethnic minority and the rural versus urban marginalisation, as well as the insidious and malicious false representations and claims of an ethnic group owning the Gambia at any given time in history.

It is some of these uninformed and underrated wordsmiths, but dangerous nevertheless, if they are not checked, who prowl within the dark corridors of the internet as well as at the bantabas and attaya brewing gatherings, and among some preachers and traditional musicians, who need to be educated in civics, geography, history and the reality of the nation-state.

Thus, it would be advisable for those who subscribe to the “inbox” of divisive, tribalist and sectoinalist ideology and believe, to be given no public space to peddle their noxious and dangerous cocktail of hatred and violence laced speech against those who they have a different perspective or opinion on matters of concern to the Gambia and Gambians.

At this crossroad the Gambia finds itself, it is not those who shout the loudest and most angry, who Gambians should be turning to for leadership or advise. Cooler heads and moderates in different camps should be given public space and authority to mediate and mitigate the potentially Explosive situation in our beloved the Gambia. Everyday that passes and the extremist in both camps dominate the discussion, the beloved country, the Gambia slowly moves toward a catalismic and point of no return.

External intervention of any kind, devoid of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations, is not an acceptable choice and should be totally rejected by all Gambians and the political parties and leadership in the Gambia and ECOWAS. Intervention, especially military intervention has not been a beneficial and moral solution to any kind of dispute both in the past and present.

Examples are well-known, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are the most or recent calamities and destructive results and outcomes of such reactionary interventions. The Gambia is not an extension or appendage of Senegal. As such, Senegal is bound by all treaty obligations to come to the defend of the Gambia, but not to invade it as a matter of settling a score with President Jammeh.

Members of Gambia’s army forces patroling the streets of Banjul. Photograph: Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

If such a development should take place, it would not be the first time it has been implemented and visited upon on the Gambia. It happened in 1981 and as a consequence, we have the 1994 coupe and the second Republic. The Gambia and Gambians cannot afford to “contract out” their democracy to Senegal and hope that they will regain it back in whole and without a steep payment in national sovereignty as well as a costly treasury price, not to mention the cost in both Gambian and Senegalese lives.

Mutual understanding, cooperation and respect need to be in the “inbox” of advancing a peaceful and civil transition from the second republic to the third republic. The Coalition Alliance and supporters and President Yaya Jammeh and other stakeholders need to put the interest of the Gambian people first and politics and political position last. The dead will not be identified as Coalition Alliance or the second republic supporters, but as dead Gambians.

We, all Gambians have one choice, live as a free born and a united front of Gambians, or witness a dinosaur in the making in the Gambia. What is your choice. Tic, toc, tic, toc time is running out for you, me, we and us.

by Sidi N. Bojang, A Gambian.