Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews)When we pray, we must do so expecting that God will answer, and we must open our hearts and be willing to accept the outcome, without preconceived notions.

The Lord is quite efficient. He works things together for the good of all who love Him. He does not expose the beam in our brothers and sisters eye without showing us the beam in our own. The illness is diagnosed – it is brought out into the sunlight – and only then can the healing begin.

Truth and reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice and truth.

Reconciliation can’t be a superficial lip service process. It must fundamentally be inclusive in issues and in stakeholders. The truth must come out and we share why the hate/bitterness and come up with collective peaceful means to find a common ground for real reconciliation and reconstruction of the nation. Those in power and the old guards must also be ready to give up a lot of their privileges or else we all face the wrath of the Gambian people.

When I think about Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, the first examples that pop into my head are Rwanda, South Africa, and Cambodia; developing countries that have been plagued by conflict and need to find a way to air their grievances and start to move the country forward.

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are often viewed as an alternative to violence. They are a mechanism by which grievances can be aired and perpetrators of crime can take responsibility for their actions through the means of engaging in conversation. It is the idea that through talking with one another we can create a space in which we can begin to move past these grievances and begin to move forward.

Justice can’t be served unless truth is revealed. I know some of the dynamics are different, but there are also many similarities between what has happened in The Gambia, Rwanda and in South Africa. Gross human rights violation, injustice and denial of human dignity.

After the change came in South Africa and Nelson Mandela became president, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, and even though it may have had some flaws, I believed it helped a nation “bleed” and helped overt a bloody civil war that could have destroyed South Africa and could have killed tens of thousands.

The wise statesman, Nelson Mandela, as the father of a new South Africa encouraged Tutu to do this. These incredible leaders helped save the nation from horrible destruction in the 1990’s. Victims and families of deceased victims faced their oppressors in very painful meetings, and with the promise of immunity, the oppressors told the truth of the crimes they had committed or conspired to commit.

The nation had to have a time to bleed before it could heal. South Africa still has many problems to overcome today, but I doubt if any person of color would want to go back to those segregationist apartheid days of white oppressors brutally ruling them.

A tremendous opportunity to accept the darkness of our collective history and to proceed, without delay, with reconciliation and rebuilding our relationships, reconcile our difference, heal the nation, then move forward. Let’s not let it slip away. We can have a fair country.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

The author is founder and former managing editor of The Independent, the Gambia’s only private newspaper before it was banned by the government in 2005. He was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a 2007 Nieman fellow and is the author of Delayed Democracy: How Press Freedom Collapsed in Gambia published in 2013.