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Damn. Shit is hitting the fan in the Gambia. Yahya Jammeh has perfected the art of con artistry. He is now peddling some bullshit that purportedly cures an assortment of ailments including sexually transmitted diseases. This at a time when AIDS is wrecking havoc on the continent of Africa.

Here is the story as reported in the Daily Observer:

Kanilai medicine reputed to cure a wide range of ailments, including diarrhoea, malaria, headache, muscular pain, and partial blindness, was on Friday formally introduced into the Gambian market at the July 22 Square in Banjul.

Bottled in two different sizes of Naturelle plastic containers, Kanilai medicine was sold at D100 and D300 to hundreds of Gambians who queued up to buy the popular medicine that had been showcased at the second National Trade Fair at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.

According to President Jammeh, who graced the selling of the latest locally produced medicines with his presence, Kanilai medicine is efficacious against Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs) and abdominal pains, as well as helping to regularise menstrual periods.
He described the preparation of the medicine as “hectic and time consuming”, explaining that its preparation is accompanied by the recitation of the Holy Scriptures.
The Gambian leader warned the public against buying the medicine from unauthorised agents. “People are unscrupulous. They can dilute this and start
selling it to people. You can buy from us directly. “It will be futile for anyone to obtain or buy the medicine from any where else without coming to us.

“We are only selling it in bottles of Naturell with codes. Next time we’re selling it, we are going to change the codes,” he said.Besieged by a crowd of appreciative buyers, President Jammeh in his characteristic magnanimity, gave out bottles of the Kanilai medicine free to the elderly and students.

When you think he can't get any worse, Yahya Jammeh always come with another stupid idea that blows you away. The saddest thing is that our people fall for his bamboozlement and spend their scarce resources buying the dictator's crap.

BROOKS: This is important. This is important -- it's not racist -- when the immigrants -- Listen, I'm for pretty open immigration. But when the immigrants come, they come with a culture of criminality. It's out of control, and I can see people wanting to put the system in control.

That was the New York Times David brooks on the Chris Mathews show. The right wing is trying to turn the 2006 congressional elections into an immgrant bashing fest. They can't run on their record of deficit spending, high energy cost or the invasion of Iraq.

Media matters has the transcript of the show.


Education stimulates people to want what they do not have. In an African village, like the one I grew up in, the effects of western education on the inhabitants is evident everywhere. From the growth in modern communications media to the infiltration of western cultures and mannerisms; the gulf created by western education between the literate and illiterate (in the western curriculum) is indeed great.

Growing up, I remember village life as some kind of paradise. A place where you felt life was never going to end, but would go on forever. Amid the forest trees, the gardens, the warmth, the rain, the smell of damp earth, the comfort of family, and a sense of life without need we were raised, not by a parent but by a village.

But my father, like many of his compatriots had decided that his children would not remain tied to the life of a village farmer. Education will be the means of our escape. The peanut he plants, along with the generosity of a Swedish lady whom I have never meet to this day, I was able to attend high school. The rest like they say is history.

Education is widely respected in Africa. I read somewhere that among the Fang people of Gabon, parents who in the past would have dipped a spear in the water which was used to wash a new born son, began using a pencil instead. But while a pencil may indeed be mightier than the spear in the long term, the short term effects of education in rural African communities is not wholly favorable. Schools emptied the villages and filled the cities. At the end of each school year thousands of able bodied youngsters leave the sparsely populated villages where labor is short and move to urban areas where jobs are scarce.

Statistics aside, because they are not readily available in Africa, I will estimate that ninety four percent of children with no schooling stay in their villages, but about that same percentage of primary and secondary school graduates leave for urban centers. Of the secondary and high school graduates, 10% moved on to higher education, 31% become apprentices, and skilled laborers or were self employed modou, modous (street vendors). The remaining 59% are either unskilled laborers or unemployed. This out migration of the “educated” from farming communities represents a major hindrance to the agricultural sector.

There can be little doubt that the 59% (if you go by my estimate) who were either unemployed or working as laborers in urban centers could have made a very useful contribution to the improvement of resource utilization in the villages they have left behind. But education has given them a glimpse of broader horizons and policy makers have in effect declared that national development could not begin in the village. A literate middle class they envision is required to run the country and run a market economy. “Let it be remembered”, my sixth form business teacher quoting John Galbraith in a commentary he wrote on the challenges facing underdeveloped countries, “there is no literate population on this planet that is poor, no illiterate population that is otherwise than poor”.

And to paraphrase another commentator on development in Africa: “children should be equipped with basic literacy, and stimulated to want what they do not have”. That is more or less the concept that a great many parents like my father have in mind when they sent us to school. The effects it will have on their community never cross their mind. Policy makers were either short sighted or ineptitude in their formulation of policies. The consequences is densely populated cities with semi literate youths who came to look down on farming but were not educated enough to get themselves out of the hell hole that an unemployed African youth is destined for.

They who think that you are gone,
Because no more your face they see,
No more Good Morning Mr. President columns,
Are wrong, for in our hearts you live
And always will in memory.

We think of you with love today
As we have done so often,
And feel once more the bitter blow
That does not seem to soften.

Wishing today as we wished before
That God could have spared you many years more.
In our heart your memory is kept.
To love, to cherish and to never forget.

Rest in Peace Mr. Hydara.

Dedicated to the memory of Deyda Hydara who was murdered one year ago today. His killers have not been apprehended as of this writting. Mr. Hydara was the editor of the Gambia's Point Newspaper at the time of his murder.


The three NADD leaders arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by the Gambia's resident dictator have been granted bail today. This is not a testament to the independence of the judiciary. These gentlemen should not have been arrested in the first place.

The only plausible rational behind their arrest is to waste their time and resources and by extension that of NADD before the impending 2006 election. The next hearing is slated for thursday.

I am against the death penalty for multitude of reasons, chief among which is the belief that innocent people are caught up in the justice system and end up getting executed for lack of adequate defense and other social vices that may be at play especially RACE.

Stanley Tookie Williams may not be the best poster child for opponents of the death penalty, but the push to get him clemency is a just cause. However it will be a tactical mistake on the part of death penalty activist to use him as a catalyst in their fight against the death penalty.

The case for Cory Maye, who is sitting on death row in Mississippi has spark an alliance between the left and right across the blogosphere. Battlepanda is urging the creation of a blogstorm from both sides of the political spectrum to create publicity about one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice in recent history.

Battlepanda links to the Agitator's excellent ongoing coverage:

Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter,
fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

Hammer of Truth has been doing an excellent summarization of the case and has links to the blogs getting in on this, as well as contact information and letter suggestions for the governor of Mississippi.

As usual, the mainstream media is AWOL on this whole thing. The blogs are the only avenue pushing against this travesty of justice. If this was a story about some damsel missing in Aruba it will be all over the cable channels 24/7. It goes to show their priorities.

Mama D gives Chris Shays holy hell for Accusing Katrina victims of Lying About Racism, Levee Bomb and Ethnic Cleansing.

Read the rest of the story from DailyKos diarist Sherlock Google

Every dysfunctional relationship requires two parties. One party believes that, in order to be true, it must beat the other over the head with what ever would inflict the most pain. The other party believes, in order to be true, it must take the beating.

I think it is fair to characterize Gambian politics as dysfunctional. It will change when (a) APRC stops beating the opposition or (b) NADD quit taking it and say enough. Events of the past week suggest that NADD is waiting around for Yahya and his gang to have mercy on them and stop beating them. Yahya is relying on a tactic that has proven effective over and over again - the belief that when the political knives come out, most opposition leaders will act like p***ies and back down. Yahya has come to learn that the most that Ousainou and others will ever do when confronted is called on their supporters to calm down while they run to his slavish minions on the courts for relief. This could have been the best opportunity for NADD to show strength and confront Yahya’s fake macho swagger. Unfortunately, it is clear to most observers of Gambian politics that NADD’s leadership doesn’t know how to go in for the kill when the opponent is on the ropes.

The President stood up before religious leaders, put on his customary clenched-jaw scowl, and with a show of palpable, smoldering anger told the whole country that he was going to teach the opposition a lesson and that some of them will not witness the 2006 elections. True to his dare he arrested three of them and imprison them without any cause. What has been the response of the remaining NADD executive members? It went something like: Whoa there buddy. Let's simmer down.

Then they ran to the courts and behold their old nemesis Paul was waiting to put the final nail on the coffin. If you know the rules are stacked against you but you play the game, you can’t cry foul at the results. By running to a judiciary that is corrupt and stacked with mercenary judges, NADD gave them credibility. Couldn't at least one prominent NADD leader just say: We demand the release of our compatriots in X days or I will lead our supporters on a non-violent demonstration. Yes, the aggressive tone will put the government on notice that the opposition is serious and here to stay. It will turn more people on. Frustrated Gambians everywhere, who are fed up with Yahya’s brutality and all the accompanying B.S, and who are looking for a leader, will think: it's about time somebody had the guts to say the obvious and stood up to Yahya’s bullying.

However the response of NADD’s executive to this crisis has little to desire for. It seemed that they have confront the situation with a personal and political style based more on personal preservation - or attempting at least not to offend Yahya even more. But in the process they are losing the respect of some of their most loyal friends.


The people of our dear nation are shocked by the press release emanating from the Department of State for the Interior informing the world at large that Hamat Bah, Omar Jallow (OJ) "have been arrested and are helping the Police in their investigations into subversive activities and posing threat to national security" and that "the third suspect Halifa Sallah of NADD" was at large. Gambians and all sane and decent minded persons are not only shocked by this announcement but they are disgusted by the misinformation and the arbitrary arrest and detention of these three members of the Executive Committee of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD). They have, since their arrest by the Security forces on Tuesday, 15th November, 2005, been held incommunicado.

Although the State's misinformation machinery disclosed that these three senior members of the NADD Executive are helping the Police in their investigations of subversive activities and threats to national security yet information reaching NADD from official sources are that the State is studying what charges to prefer against them. This practice of arresting political targets and then scratching one's head in the search for trumped up charges is to say the least arbitrary and an abuse of the State's power of arrest. It is inimical to the rule of law and undermines the bona fide application of the due process concept that requires the arrest of a suspect upon reasonable suspicion that he has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence.

The release issued by The Department of State for the Interior is very typical of the false and fabricated assertions by dictators against political opponents and this particular release is no exception.

Gambians will recall that after the Supreme Court of the Gambia declared the seats of the four Opposition National Assembly members vacant, President Jammeh addressed a political rally at Sinchu at which he declared that he will support and take part in any effort that is aimed at destroying Hamat Bah and that he will do everything possible to ensure that both Hamat Bah and Halifa Sallah do not return to the National Assembly. The arrest of and detention of both Hamat Bah and Halifa Sallah is a fulfillment of that promise. With the type of fabricated allegations against the three arrested

NADD Executive members, Halifa Sallah (the Minority Leader and a member of the Pan-African Parliament) will not only be kept away from participating in the proceedings of the National Assembly and the PanAfrican Parliament for an indefinite period but the wish and will of the people of Serrekunda Central in electing to the National Assembly will stand stultified.

It is the view of the NADD that the airing of the Press release by the State media which continued even a day after the arrest of Halifa Sallah is a calculated ploy by President Jammeh's regime to mislead the nation that he was at large even though he had been arrested by 7.30pm on Tuesday 15th November, 2005. Such an act is very irresponsible and constitutes an abuse of office. The ploy will however not work.

The interest of NADD is to have a clean sweep at the 2006 polls. But the conduct of the President is yet to convince the Gambian public that he is interested in a peaceful, free and fair election. On the contrary, the indications are that he is interested in an election ridden by violence, intimidation, chaos and confusion. The unwillingness of the APRC to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between political parties in The Gambia initiated by General Abubakar former Head of State of Nigeria on behalf of the Commonwealth is a living testimony to this.

The arrest and detention of these three persons runs contrary to the letter and spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding. These arrests and detention are politically motivated and signs of what is in store for the Opposition in the run-up to the 2006 Presidential Elections

We demand the immediate release of the three NAAD Executive Members whose continued detention is without justification. Their continued detention is unacceptable.

My Take

So NADD decided to lawyer up and write a treatise essentially begging a dictator to spare their imprisoned colleagues. Take the last sentence in their press release for instance:

We demand the immediate release of the three NAAD Executive Members whose
continued detention is without justification. Their continued detention is

They made a demand but failed to specify what the consquences will be if their demands are not met. If that is not wimping out then I have a camel to sell you.

Click here to listen to the interview Ousainou Darbo (Leader of UDP) and an executive member of NADD granted to James Butty of the Voice of America on Monday November the 16th 2005.

Granted this and other interviews that are granted by the opposition to foreign based news outlets like the VOA and the BBC serve a purpose. But the people who need to get assurances the most...(the opposition supporters on the ground) are still not well informed as to what Mr. Darbo and the rest of NADD's executive are doing to get their colleagues release from illegal detention.

Mr. Darbo used very strong language to denounce the actions of the government on VOA. He should be commended for doing that. My concern is that I haven't heard or read from any source that he made any such statement available for domestic consumption. Yeah I understand that GRTS ( radio and Tv) will not cover it, but calling a news conference and demanding the immediate and unconditional release of his comrades will be a morale booster for NADD's supporters. Putting on a barristers hat and challenging an illegal actions is a bad political move. Yahya Jammeh is making a political statement...he is telling the electorate in a very subtle manner that NADD's leadership is made up of wimps. If they can't protect themselves, they sure ain't in hell going to protect a country. If he (Yahya) gets a positive reaction out of this illegal action, then he wins. A positive reaction for Yahya in this case will come about if NADD instead of a show of strenght ran to the mercenary judges that Gambia's judiciary is stacked with for help.

A show of strenght on NADD's part will involve calling their supporters to the street demanding in a non-violent way the release of their leaders. We in the diaspora get castigated for saying that. But what our detractors failed to understand is that we are part of this fight like the people on the ground. Granted we are not physically in harms way but our parents, siblings and other family members are. Also we are not seeking to lead a nation. If you are ambitious as to seek the leadership of a nation, their is a price to pay. It doesn't come on a silver platter especially when the opponent is a murderous dictator. Just ask Mandela.

With three influential opposition figures arrested and imprisoned by their government without any wrong doing ( the government hasn't offer any explanation), you will think serious journalist working for the country's own daily newspaper will do what is expected of members of the fourth estate... held the government accountable by seeking answers to the reason behind the arrest and incarceration of law abiding citizens of that caliber. But that is too much to ask of a garbage outlet like the Gambia's Daily Observer.

This is how they went about reporting the story:

Nadd Leaders in hot soup

by DO
Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Former National Reconciliation Party (NRP) leader and executive member of the National Alliance for Development and Democracy (Nadd), Mr Hamat Bah was Tuesday arrested together with the interim leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Mr Omar Jallow, alias OJ and are helping the police in their investigations into subversive activities, as well as posing threat to national security.

The third suspect, Nadd’s cordinator, and the former National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Central, Honourable Halifa Sallah, is presently at large and urged to report to the nearest police station, with immediate effect.

According to a press release from the Department of State for the Interior “any person found wanting in this regard”, and wish to provide shelter for Mr Sallah will be apprehended and charged for aiding and abetting.The release finally assured the general public that there is no cause for alarm and should remain calm.

I was always a skeptic of the observers reporting, but this looks more like gloating to me than reporting. NADD leaders in hot soup? Are they gullible or what? This headline sound more like propaganda than a news story to me. The rumor that Yahya owns the observer is manisfested in such a shoddy piece of reporting. Yuck these guys have no professional intergrity.

According to the press release my left foot. Anybody reading that garbage you passed for a story will know that this is the damn press release.


We have just received news of the arrest and detention of Omar Jallow (OJ),
Hamat Bah and Halifa Sallah of the NADD Executive Committee, at around 5.30pm
this evening. We have confirmation that the trio are currently being held at the
Central Prisons in mile 2.

Our sources have also confirmed that Hamat Bah's residence has been searched by security forces in connection with what the government radio and television stations referred to as "subversive activities".

We await further news on the arrest and detention of
the NADD leadership and will keep you informed of developments as they

However it appears that the president has made good his "korite day" threats to "deal" with the opposition Alliance. Again he has demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law, democratic norms and civilised behaviour. However he is put on notice that the opposition will not be cowed into submission, whatever he does.

The MRDGUK registers it collective disgust at this illegal act and states that the arrest and detention of Mrssers Jallow, Bah and Sallah is an illegal and deplorable act; not in compliance with due process and we condemn it without reservation. These gentlemen should have been arraigned before a competent court of law before their detention at the central prison. The opposition will not tolerate this illegality and we demand their immediate release pending the application of due process, which we believe will exculpate all three opposition leaders.


I hope the rest of the executive members of NADD do not take the passive route. It is time to call your supporters to take to the streets in a non-violent upsurge to demand the release of your comrades. If you resort to the Kangaroo courts that are stacked against you by the mercenary judges, the end result will be disasterous for the morale of your supporters. Yahya Jammeh... like every other dictator is a coward. If the opposition alliance can muster the courage to call their supporters to take to the street demanding the release of these folks, he will relent before you can count to two. The boost in opposition morale from such non-violent peaceful citizen power will carry the opposition to victory come 2006. But if NADD executive lawyered up to fight this trangression then we might as well fold the mat, because the game is over...2006 will be a lost cause.

To Halifa, Hamat and O.J our thoughts and prayers are with you. We are proud of your sacrifices.

Could this and this be the reason for their arrest. Dictators can't handle the truth.

Here is an audio transcript of Omar Amadou Jallow’s response disputing the diatribe made by Yahya Jammeh during a visit by religious leaders on the occasion of Id-el Fitr prayers. It is in English and Wollof. You need real player to listen to it.

Click here to listen. Audio is courtesy of Free Gambia.

Here is how the Point newspaper reported the story. Reproduce below is their entire story. The point’s links are flaky and may not respond a few days from now. So I am pushing the envelop on fair use again by reproducing their entire article below:

No Tolerance for Religious Fundamentalism, Homosexuality in this
Country - Jammeh

Monday 7th November 2005

President Yahya Jammeh has emphasised that religious fundamentalism and homosexuality would not be tolerated by his government. The president made these remarks on Thursday when Muslim elders in Banjul and heads of different denominations paid their usual courtesy call on him at State House, shortly after Eid prayers marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Addressing Muslim elders, the Gambian leader said he was very pleased with their kind words and prayers for the country, adding that as the Holy month of Ramadan ends, people should forgive each other.

The President, who spoke at length, gave detailed explanations of the recent border problem between The Gambia and Senegal, intimating that the problem started as a result of false allegations leveled against The Gambia by unpatriotic countrymen.

“The Gambia–Senegal border issue was initiated in The Gambia by some Gambians who will never rule this country,” the President said, adding that they (the initiators) went and told all kinds of false allegations against The Gambia to the Senegalese authorities.

“If I did not use my five senses, we would have been fighting with Senegal by now,” the Gambian leader pointed out.

He said it was not only the ferry tariff that brought all these problems, but also the opposition. He claimed that the opposition has given so
many false information to the authorities in Senegal, which could create big problem between the two neighbours.

“I am not against opposition, but an opposition whose intention is to bring trouble in this country will not be allowed here,” the Gambian leader noted, adding that “because they know that next year is elections and there is no chance for them to win, so the only thing
they can do is to try to create conflicts between Senegal and The Gambia , and then later will say ‘let us get rid of Yahya Jammeh so that we can have peace’.”

The opposition, President Jammeh continued, even told the Senegalese authorities that his state guards are all rebels from Casamance, and claimed that we even kill Senegalese in The Gambia.“The opposition even claimed that Gambian soldiers sent on peace-keeping mission in Dafur, Sudan and that half of them are rebels from Casamance,” the President said.

President Jammeh said the Gambian Army can be regarded as the best army in the world, so he sees no reason why he should he go for rebels in Casamance.He added that the opposition even went further to say that one of the outspoken rebel leaders, Salifu Sarjo, at times spends the night at State House in Banjul and even in Kanilai and further noted that he later killed Salifu Sarjo, but to his surprise Mr Sarjo recently spoke on Sud-FM in Dakar.“You see all these are false
allegations leveled against me and my government by the opposition and I want you Muslim elders to know what has happened, so that when I start dealing with them, I don’t want anybody to come and beg for sympathy,” the Gambian leader noted.

He said further that it is not only the opposition, but there are some civil servants and some Gambians abroad who misinformed the Senegalese authorities, adding he would soon start giving them their ‘Salibo’, meaning he would punish them “without hesitation.”

Commenting on Eid prayers, the President urged the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council to have a code of conduct so that whoever fails to honour it should be dealt with.He stressed the need for Muslims
in The Gambia to always observe Eid prayers in unison, and therefore called on the Supreme Islamic Council to make sure that the whole country observe such occasions the same day.

The Gambian leader pointed out that government would not allow differences in the observance of such religious feasts.The president therefore immediately instructed the Secretary of State for Local Government and Lands to inform all divisional commissioners to write to all villages and towns who fail to pray on this day that action can be taken against them, because as he put it, “too much freedom is not good.”

Speaking earlier, the vice-president, Isatou Njie-Saidy, the Secretary of State for Religious Affairs Samba Faal, and the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Yankuba Touray, all called for peace and stability in the country.The speaker of the National Assembly, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, urged the Supreme Islamic Council to call for a national conference in order to trash out such differences among Gambians. The president of the Supreme Islamic Council, Alhaji Banding Drammeh,
reported that half of the country did not pray on Thursday, as they claimed not sighting the moon with their own eyes.

That was the hallucination of the full blown dictator ruining the Gambia. He lied on the opposition to cover his own inepititude. Then turn around and threaten people with jail time if they don't follow his dictates and observe Eid on the same day. What a freaking moron.

Ali, dressed in a suit, barely cracking a smile, received the loudest and most
sustained applause of the day. And the always quotable man who said "I ain't got
no quarrel with them Viet Cong" and "I am the onliest of boxing's poet
laureates" delivered the most striking moment without speaking a word...Wapo

A picture is worth a thousand words. It is my opinion that in the pose above, Ali is sticking it to Bush. It was his way of embarrassing Bush. Ali is very playful and would have pretended to box the President if he respected or liked him. He occasionally did that to Howard Cossell… the sports reporter who first called for an end to the boxing world's ban on Ali. By putting his dukes up, Bush was angling for a photo of Ali and him in such a pose. Good for Ali, not only did he refuse; he made a point of it. This is Ali's way of saying to Bush: I am not endorsing you asshole, so don’t think I like or support you just because I am here accepting an award from you.

Thank God for national treasures like Mohammed Ali.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick exulted early today when he claimed a stunning comeback victory that gives him another four years to show Detroiters that he has learned from his mistakes while launching what could become a new political dynasty.

Kilpatrick, 35, used his tremendous personal appeal and a series of impressive public appearances in the wake of civil rights legend Rosa Parks' death Oct. 24 to overcome what had been a 19-point deficit in late September and defeat challenger Freman Hendrix, 55.
A last-minute negative ad blitz against Hendrix and a show of force by supporters at the polls may also have pushed Kilpatrick past Hendrix in a race that was not decided until early this morning.

Kilpatrick claimed victory around 2:30 a.m., leading 53% to 47% with 99% of precincts reporting.

"We had people power," Kilpatrick told supporters at a Renaissance Center ballroom. "Some of y'all just plain crazy, because you had no business standing up...we couldn't win. So some of y'all just plain crazy. And right now, the whole country that's been watching is saying you crazy like a fox."...Detroit Free Press.

Personally I am not a fan of Kwame Kilpatrick, but the guy run a lean, discplined and very well coordinated campaign. One would only hope that the Kwame that showed up during the campaign will overcome the party animal of yester years. Detroit needs a discplined, coordinated and capable leadership to avoid state receivership. If Kwame can work so hard to overcome insourmantable deficit in the polls to win as he did last night then there is hope that he could pull detroit out of the financial mess that it is in.

In the same elections Detroiters got rid of the always controversial city clerk Jackie Currie to elect Janice Winfrey. Currie has been marred by allegations of impropriety. The FBI is still investigating allegations of voter fraud and has a court order to keep the absentee ballots intact until the end of the federal probe into allegations of death people voting in detroit elections.

The Detroit city council has four new members joining its ranks. Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John Conyers is one of the new faces gracing the city council.

About 205,000 Detroit voters today are expected to decide whether to keep the city's 60th mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, for another term, or replace him with Freman Hendrix, the former deputy mayor... Detroit Free Press

There is no credible exit polls to gauge the final outcome. But the election has been marred by accusations of intimidation by suburban mostly republican poll challengers according to the Detroit NAACP chapter. A law suit has also been filed by the controversial city clerk to reclaim the authority to count absentee ballots that a judge took away from her earlier in the week after allegations of impropriety.

Will keep you updated on the final results. If the polls are anything to go by Kwame Kilpatrick the incumbent mayor will lose tonight.


Virginia viewers of the post-Redskins-Eagles ESPN Sportscenter were graced with a political ad entirely in Spanish, a Service Employees International Union
endorsement of Democrat Tim Kaine in tomorrow's Virginia governor's race.

In a
joint campaign appearance with Kaine, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson pronounced that "the multiethnic component of Northern Virginia is going to be critical" on Election Day. Kaine's approach to winning that vote is to oppose local
enforcement of immigration laws

Given that learning English is required for U.S. citizenship and only U.S. citizens are supposed to vote, the SEIU is targeting who exactly with this Spanish-only strategy?...
Jim boulet

Jim Boulet is either fundamentally dishonest or ignorant about immigration issues to write the above. Learning English is not required for US citizenship. Granted, you need some proficiency in English for naturalization, but how any intelligent person can turn that into wholesale learning is intellectually dishonest to say the least. Besides proficiency doesn’t mean fluency.

If Jim wasn’t out to disparage Kaine he would’ve inform his readers that the Republican candidate in the same Virginia race…Jerry Kilgore is running his own Spanish language website. Furthermore the white house website has a Spanish language component as well. Who exactly are they targeting Jim? Unlike you I believe they are communicating to the millions of American citizens who happened to speak Spanish as a first language. Therefore it’s perfectly legitimate for Kaine to appeal to Spanish-speaking Latinos. Latinos represent a significant share of the population in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, and are not insignificant in Fairfax County. It will be political suicide not to appeal to them in a language they speak fluently to get your message across. Using code words to malign a people because they happen to speak a different language is taking demagoguery to far.

Today we bid a final farewell to Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement.It won't be easy to say good-bye. Detroit was the city that gave her refuge when she was abused and mistreated in the South, simply for taking a courageous stand against segregation. We opened our arms to her, embraced her strength and loved her for all she did to change the history of our nation.

Now all we can do is show our gratitude.

Good-bye, Mother Parks. Your children will miss you. Godspeed.

Read the free press blog for further commentary.

New Presidential Carrier Arrives
Friday 28th October 2005

The government has announced the arrival of a new Presidential aircraft at the Banjul International Airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A press release from the Office of the President says the carrier – an IL 62 N Aircraft is equipped with modern safety devices and conveniences including a VIP configuration. The release says that the aircraft has been acquired within the framework of the technical assistance and the friendly relationship between The Gambia and the Republic of China on Taiwan.

This latest gesture by the Taiwanese government is a further manifestation of the ever-increasing mutual support and friendship between Banjul and Taipei the release stated.

Here comes the insult:

Water Shortage Hits Janjanbureh Jammeh Urged to Intervene
Friday 28th October 2005
By Momodou Justice Darboe

The provincial town of Janjangbureh in the Central River Division is currently experiencing an acute water shortage, reports say.

According to sources, the water scarcity that has persisted now for several weeks running is now threatening to degenerate to a full-blown crisis.

The Point gathered from interviews with some residents of the town that the people of Janjangbureh, especially women, are at present going through trying times to obtain potable water. An appeal is therefore being made to president Jammeh as Secretary of State for energy to intervene and ameliorate the problem.

“Mr. President, we strongly appeal to you to look into this matter and rescue us from our unceasing hardship. We are very much concerned about our health and that of our children as we have to depend on the river to get water,” posited a resident.

My take:

After reading these two stories, and you still think Yahya Jammeh is doing even a marginally decent job in running the affairs of state, I will not hesitate to call your case hopeless. Anyone with an once of conscience after reading these two stories will tell you that Yahya Jammeh has his freaking priorities effed up. On a second thought it is Gambians that are getting screwed. Yahya has his priorities straight. He is going to squeeze us out of every butut he could. His family, he told us will never want for anything as long as they live. So brace yourselves countrymen, if you want to get poorer and keep begging for hand outs from your own government, vote for Yahya, but if you want to be in charge of your own destiny, you know what to do come October 2006.

The stories are courtesy of the Point. I produced them here in their entirety to avoid broken links associated with most of their stories I linked to before. I may be pushing the envelop of fair use here though.

Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide was indicted today on perjury, false statement, and obstruction of justice charges in connection with a special counsel's probe into the leaking of a CIA officer's identity. Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser, apparently escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation.

The gring stole some of my Fitzmas presents. However, fantasy is way better than reality!I was supposed to get a ROVEr for Fitzmas and all I got was this stupid scooter. Might as well be socks and underwear. Or well life bites.

Here is a link to the pdf of the indictment

A decade after Yahya Jammeh took over power in a military coup; I am wondering what leadership qualities (if any) that Tony daba has learnt in his stint as a Lieutenant in the Gambia National Army. The military is believed to be one of the most efficient institutions in grooming leaders. So how good is Yahya Jammehs leadership skills? To accomplish this exercise, we will use certain benchmarks that good leaders adhere to:

  • Delegation of authority and taking responsibility: Good leaders delegate authority to subordinates with the understanding that decisions made by those subordinates is an extension of their own judgment and thus the final responsibility falls on their shoulder. In essence the buck stop at their desk.

How do Yahya fare in this realm? Poor. Since he took over we’ve seen a pattern of irresponsibility beyond belief. He refused to take responsibility for the orders he gave on that fateful day in april of 2001, when 14 students were murdered by the security forces. Yahya is unable to take responsibility for his failings. The Gambia is an economic hellhole due to the endemic corruption that pervades his administration with him as the chief “dirimo”, the fracas with our neighbor because of his un-diplomatic behavior. He always has some one to fire from a job for lack of performance. It is never his fault. He fired people from the agriculture and energy portfolio; appoint himself the overseer, only to get the worst result.

  • Lead by example: Don’t demand of others anything you wouldn’t want to be subjected to. A good drill sergeant will not order his men to do a 10-mile march and then drive alongside in a jeep; he is on the ground with them the whole way. He is usually the leader of the pack.

Again how did our yahya measured up to the above benchmark? Again not good at all. He as recently as last year set up a commission of enquiry to purge graft in government, have every public official and their mama testify to the source of their wealth but he refused to set the record straight as to how a person with a background like himself become so rich in such a short period of time.
  • Team determines success: The competency of the people around any given leader and how much latitude they have in expressing their views when it matters determines how successful the venture gets. A know it all, dictatorial leader like only sets up his team for failure.

Yahya isn’t faring well in this department either. He has vital government agencies staffed by incompetent tribal loyalist and sycophantic technocrats who will sell their soul for the back kicks that comes with the job in an environment endemic with corruption. Famara Jatta, Lamin Bajo and the disgraced doctor Janneh are examples of this phenomenon.

  • Solicit Feedback: Get out of your square. Listen and actively solicits information from sources outside of your inner circle. Chances are that you are not getting the full picture from those around you.

The chance that Yahya Jammeh will ever do something like that is beyond me. Sycophants who constantly remind him that he is the best thing that ever happen to that country surround him.

  • Make good decisions and be flexible about them: A good leader solicits ideas from all sources, weigh his options and make a decision. Sometimes, you don't have time to react, so you make a quick decision. Sometimes, you have the luxury of planning and intelligence assessment, and can take time to make a good call. But no decision is final- the field is fluid and you need to be able to react, even if it means countering a previous order.

Well yahya is just a different animal. He doesn't make decisions well, and when he does and they are bad he always has someone else to blame. Remember his promise about the electricity problem? He took over the portfolio, ordered some used generators from South Africa, pour libation on the machines and that was the last we heard about them. Gambians still live in darkness.

  • Serve the interest of your people: this point is self-explanatory. A political leader is a public servant. You take care of the governed, serve their interest and not your own.

If you look at the state of affairs in the Gambia, yahya has flunk this benchmark as well. He has the ancient “Mansa” (king) mentality down packed. He is to be served period.

There are many more leadership qualities that one can use to compare and contrast with the disastrous rule of yahya Jammeh, so fell free to add yours to the list. Here is my summation of the leadership acumen of the man keeping Gambia hostage:

- He doesn’t and will not take responsibility-
-He doesn’t lead by example
- He surrounds himself with unqualified tribal cronies and sycophantic technocrats
- He is out of touch with the needs of the average Gambian
- He makes poor judgment in decision making


Steve Clemons is reporting that Patrick Fitzerald has sent target letters. It is a rumor obviously, but what the heck. I figure I can have some fun at the expense of Bush's brain thrust aka turd blossom. Yeah dream I can because even when indicted Karl Rove will not do the perp walk. Republicans are all over the airwaves trivializing the gravity of outing a CIA agent and lying about it in a grand jury deliberation.This thing could really get interesting.

Fitzerald is still out there burning the midnight candle. Doting the Is and crossing the Ts if you believe this LA Times story.

I hope the gring won't steal my fitzmas.

When Rosa Parks refused to get up, an entire race of people began to stand up for their rights as human beings.

It was a simple act that took extraordinary courage in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. It was a place where black people had no rights white people had to respect. It was a time when racial discrimination was so common, many blacks never questioned it.

At least not out loud.

But then came Rosa Parks.

This mild-mannered black woman refused to give up her seat on a city bus so a white man could sit down.

Jim Crow laws had met their match.

Parks' refusal infused 50,000 blacks in Montgomery with the will to walk rather than risk daily humiliation on the city's buses.

This gentle giant, whose quietness belied her toughness, became the catalyst for a movement that broke the back of legalized segregation in the United States, gave rise to the astounding leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and inspired fighters for freedom and justice throughout the world.

Parks, the beloved mother of the civil rights movement, is dead, a family member confirmed late Monday.

Rest in peace Mrs. Parks. You are indeed a testament to Edmund Burke’s saying that: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." You stood up when it matters and the rest as they say is history.

Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter. Title 18, Section 1621 and 1623, U.S. Code.

If President Washington, as a child, had cut down a cherry tree and lied about it, he would be guilty of `lying,' but would not be guilty of `perjury.' If, on the other hand, President
Washington, as an adult, had been warned not to cut down a cherry tree, but he cut it down anyway, with the tree falling on a man and severely injuring or killing him, with President Washington stating later under oath that it was not he who cut down the tree, that would be `perjury.' Because it was a material fact in determining the circumstances of the man's injury or death.

Some would argue that the President in the second example should not be impeached because the whole thing is about a cherry tree, and lies about cherry trees, even under oath, though despicable, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I disagree.
The perjury committed in the second example was an attempt to impede, frustrate, and obstruct the judicial system in determining how the man was injured or killed, when, and by whose hand, in order to escape personal responsibility under the law, either civil or criminal. Such would be an impeachable offense. To say otherwise would be to severely lower the moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our leaders.

Nearly every child in America believes that President Washington, as a child himself, did in fact cut down the cherry tree and admitted to his father that he did it, saying simply: `I cannot tell a lie.'

I will not compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore it… That was Kay Bailey Hutchinson during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton

Now bear with me dear reader …pretty please. This is what the gentle lady from Texas has to say on meet the press today reacting to the possible indictment of some senior white house aides on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars…

Come again Mademoiselle…Isn’t she lucky that Americans have the attention span of hummingbirds? How about some one calling monsieur Clinton to comment on this one? I bet he would love to be accorded such a courtesy. While we are on a mission of mercy for perjurers, I suggest we should call Kay's office and ask whether she supports and will work towards exonerating and releasing Lil' Kim, since all she's in jail for is lying to a grand jury.

“After the by-elections, the agenda of NADD will proceed to be implemented, and one of the agenda is precisely looking at the issue of who will be the flag bearer for NADD,” Mr Sallah explained…the Point

With NADD preparing to announce the long awaited flag bearer that most supporters have been yearning, I have a word of caution for the selection committee: Leadership is not for wimps. It takes strength of character, people skills and an adherence to a set of steadfast principles. Anyone who is a leader - a team leader, a business leader, a political leader - will inevitably face the same task, that of exercising leadership in the face of adversity with a cool, calm and level headedness.

The hallmarks of a great leader lie in the ability of that person to bring certain key factors across to his team-mates. In other words, a leader has got to be charismatic enough to inspire his team with the will and motivation to get the task done. The primary key in achieving this revolves around the notion of vision, communication and in the case of the Gambia bravery.

It is axiomatic that every winning team must have a vision. Without it a team will never succeed simply because without vision, a team can't even know what success is and certainly won't know how to get there. Sort of like a headless chicken running around.

A leader's vision is his idea of what success means to him and the team. He is the individual who directs what needs to be done and it's his job to ensure that he conveys this picture to the rest of the team coherently, so as to get the job done. Hence, a leader's vision is what pulls the whole endeavor along. It is what the team struggles for, competes for, fights for and sacrifices for and under the correct leadership, will successfully attain.

NADD’s flag bearer will have his or her work cut out for him/her as far as vision is concerned. The whole endeavor is geared towards ending Yahya Jammeh’s tyranny. But that doesn’t negate the need for effective leadership. Vision thus gives a team a mission, a sense of purpose to get excited about and a reason for being charged up, enthused and motivated, but it takes a great leader to put together a great team, inspire them with a true sense of mission and purpose. NADD cannot afford to select some one lacking in this capacity.

A leader with a vision and a mission as important as changing the tyrannical political landscape that is the Gambia without the ability to convey this vision to a largely poor and illiterate electorate is akin to a hot air balloon without someone to work the controls. Hence, a key factor in good leadership is the simple ability to communicate with the team and in the case of elections to get your message across to the electorate. No amount of vision will help if the leader fails to get it across. And the key to getting it across is articulation.

However communication is a two-way street: talking and getting the message across, then listening to hear whether it was the correct message that actually got across. African politicians and Gambians for that matter are used to talking down to the electorate instead of listening. That's one of the most common dangers that beset Gambian leaders: that they do not listen and that they don't have the patience to listen. They are usually surrounded by sycophants and get carried away with this notion of self importance to a fault. Will NADD’s flag bearer avoid this pit fall? I don’t know. But the nation will be the winner if he does.

Dynamic leadership requires that a leader steers the project to a fruitful end or at least give it their all. Nothing is more important in unseating a decade old dictatorship than guts. If NADD should select some wimp to lead, knowing that Yahya Jammeh will stop at nothing to stay in power, the outcome is clear as day…NADD and Gambians by extension will lose. Tyranny will triumph. Any leadership aspirant who is not willing to go the extra mile should not be selected. This is not an entitlement and ego has no place here. We are talking about the lives and livelihood of our country men. It is a challenge and we trust that NADD will come up with someone we can all not only rally around, but some one who will work hard and stand up when tyranny gets confronted in October of 2006.

Black Leaders

I think it’s past time for there to be a changing of the guard in black leadership in America. People like Farrakhan, Sharpton and Jackson are no better than hustlers, bigots, and crooks. There are hundreds of black leaders who believe in improving the lives of black Americans, and America in general, but the media keeps giving time to the Axis of Irrelevancy.It’s time that stopped….Oliver Willis

Oliver's post made me queasy.Every time someone decides to ride Jesse Jackson for one thing or another, I recall that image of him on the balcony with Dr. King. He was there; the man took a stance when it matters. He was there advocating for the right to vote for black people. He was there advocating for poor people before many black folks could even think of making a decent living. It's an American foible to dismiss history as if it were so much rubbish. It's been said that while other cultures sense their heritage as if it's alive, Americans dismiss theirs; "that's history" is our pejorative. We just can't seem to figure out what is worth valuing, and we wipe the slate clean. Black America is no exception to this rule. Oliver and the folks at project 21 are a perfect examples of the “that’s history” crowd.

So where are they? The thousands of black leaders Oliver is talking about. Why don't they step up? Are they waiting to be handed power? There is a simple reason people still respect these folks (Jesse, Al and Louis) and I'm surprised it eludes Oliver...They actually speak out.

Jackson, sharp ton and Farrakhan have not just put in their voice, but their time. They’ve been at this, for what, four decades apiece? While I’m skeptical about some of the things Farrakhan, Jesse and sharpton do or say, their discipline is laudable. Leadership is earned by doing the hard, dirty and unpopular work. Despite their faults, Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan earned their stripes by doing just that. Until the people who carp about their leadership show up, stand up, and put up, these folks will always command respect from a sizable number of African Americans.

Under the gazing minarets of the Fagikunda mosque and just a stones throw from Sainey Njie street lies the Hyde park Vous. No most of the chapped lipped, ashy looking high school students gathering at this location after a day of hard knocks at school have never been anywhere remotely close to London's Hyde Park. Indeed we've never been anywhere outside the Gambia. Adorned by two home made wooden benches and a charcoal pot for the occasional “attaya”, we symbolize the African child. A slogan painted on the wall reads: NO CONDITION IS PERMANENT. Yup any metaphor hunting individual who has ever grace the continent of Africa will tell you that this slogan is written all over the place. The youngsters sitting and dreaming of changing conditions in my vous are grown men today, scattered all over the world in search of greener pasture and fulfilling at least for the families we left behind a dream that indeed no condition is permanent and in most of our cases those conditions were that of abject poverty in years yonder. Unfortunately this is not true for most of our brethren.

It is true that no condition is permanent, but some are recurring, especially when it comes to Africa. Tyranny every where you look on the continent, famine in Niger, a constitutional coup leading to hereditary rule in Togo, rampant corruption in the Gambia where the president gets loans from Allah's bank, Aids epidemic ravaging communities, genocide in Darfur—All of these can be a byline to a news report emanating from Africa in the past twelve months. Recurring indeed . And what is so maddening is the extent to which African states have suffered so many of the same misfortunes since independence. It is hard to imagine now, but at the dawn of the African independence from colonial rule, much of the continent was no worse off than what has come to be known the “Asian Tigers”. While Asian nations transformed themselves into economic powerhouses, African economies went south. While life and the pursuit of happiness thrive in most of Asia, Africans are getting poorer, living shorter, hungrier lives.

How can one continent be mired in so much wretchedness? It is an indisputable fact that most Africans are abjectly poor and are governed by corrupt and capricious regimes. Therefore the dispute is generally about causes and consequences. One school of thought ( it's poverty stupid) argues that African governments are so lousy precisely because their countries are so poor. The other school of thought (the good governance crowd) takes the opposite view that indeed it is the governments that are holding the people down. The arguments may sound like old cliché, but for the billions of dollars, and millions of lives that are at stake.

The poverty school of thought have made some in roads in appealing to the conscience of western donor countries to increase aid and forgive the unbearable debt burden that enslave African economies. This is a welcome gesture. But for all intents and purpose I count myself amongst the good governance crowd. However, the fundamental question confronting us is whether the western world have the will power to alleviate a continent's suffering, or if, for all their good intentions, Africans are really on their own. Call me crazy but I believe in the latter.

Taking into account Africa's geographical and historical handicaps, the main obstacle to progress on the continent is mainly political. The poverty school of thought raised some salient points about the terrible drought that afflicted most of Africa, dwindling the crop yield and thereby exacerbating an already nutritional nightmare. Granted this is a problem, but at the core of Africa's issues is the failure of African leaders to provide effective government. With good governance prevailing most of this nations can get fed by utilizing large scale industrial farming using private capital as was the case in Zimbabwe before the tyrannical Mugabe turn it into a basket case.

Humankind living in a fairly free system has the potential to fend for themselves and Africans cannot be an exception to this rule. No it is not a rule I am making up. It is happening as I write. The tech havens spreading all over Asia are a great example of how far ingenuity will take a people. So why is Africa so poor then? The answer I believe is misrule and it's ugly side kick corruption. Misrule and corruption aren't just part of Africa's problems, they are the problem. When government ministers loot social programs, it exacerbates poverty, disease and illiteracy. When customs agents demand bribes for allowing trucks to cross borders, it increases shipping costs, and hence the prices poor consumers pay. When rulers distribute jobs and contracts to their own tribal kin, it deepens ethnic divisions.

To tackle poverty without first reducing if not totally eradicating misrule and graft as the poverty school of thought proponents are suggesting will not wash. The aid money will end up were they usually some African dictators swiss bank account.

Photo: Courtesy of

The National-Security Crisis in The Gambia and the Impending 2006 Presidential Elections

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The forthcoming 2006 presidential elections in The Gambia is a defining event in our nation’s history. Clearly, it is one of the single most significant political events since independence in 1965, and certainly the most important election since the coup d’etat of 1994. The reasons are several: First, the 2006 presidential election is occurring at a time when the choice before Gambians is between continued insecurity and further decline into the abyss of deepening poverty and gross human rights abuses or a more peaceful and democratic future under a NADD leadership. Second, the 2006 presidential elections, on one hand, provide Gambians a clear choice between a regime that has by most empirical measures failed, and the promise of a new democratic political culture under a NADD leadership, on the other.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that our homeland is today teetering on collapse and has all the ingredients in place for internal political strife, violence and anarchy. In sum, the importance of The Gambia’s 2006 presidential balloting lies in its potential to circumvent the looming but real prospect of national disintegration and turn the country in a more peaceful direction. In other words, The Gambia’s growing national-security deficit has plunged it into a precarious direction that could result in bloodshed.

Eleven years after the July 1994 coup, The Gambia under Jammeh is trapped in a vicious cycle of growing authoritarianism and harrowing poverty. The state has, for all intents and purposes “failed” and unable to deliver basic social services, justice and/ or security protections for citizens. In fact, the first annual report on the list of potential “failed states” research conducted by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy listed The Gambia as a potential candidate among 60 nations on the brink of collapse. Ivory Cost made the top of the list and The Gambia the last spot at 60. Several African countries including DRC, Guinea, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Chad also made the top ten.

A “national-security state,” leadership paranoia and intransigence have intensified the current security-deficit of growing militarization and gun-culture in our homeland. The continuing presence of military decrees and bans to limit civilian participation in government has compromised what little democratic pretensions and human rights promises Jammeh and his government(s) made to Gambians following the coup. Without doubt, under Jammeh’s tenure security at all levels has been compromised.

Little wonder extra-judicial killings of civilians are on the rise with no one brought to justice for such horrific crimes. Ironically, Jammeh’s control of the state-security apparatus has not made him nor the country and its civilian population any more secure. Jammeh perceives threats and dangers everywhere, which leaves him paranoid and erratic. He has been known to invent conspiracies, counter-coups and hoax military attacks, which he then uses to eliminate political enemies. Accordingly, The Gambia’s security and human rights deficit together with a poor governance framework have plunged the economy into a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Under pressure from the IMF, and World Bank, Jammeh has now promised to root out corruption through his highly publicized-“Operation No Compromise.” At its best, “Operation No Compromise” is a lack-luster effort to salvage an already decaying economy and a tainted image of Jammeh himself. At worse, it is a cruel hoax that, in the end, does not deliver but scapegoats the most vulnerable- the poor, retail traders and his political enemies. Poor economic performance coupled with a combination of related factors that include: low agricultural productivity, mismanagement, over-borrowing and spending, a weak currency, rampant inflation, a rising external debt, and endemic corruption, are largely to responsible for the current economic crisis.

Jammeh, therefore, presides over an economy that has failed. It was apparent in 2001 and perhaps as early as 1997 that the Gambian economy was in shambles. Unpredictable policy decisions and weak state capacity negatively impacted economic performance and in the end, precipitated an economic crisis never seen before in The Gambia. Increasingly, some critics express, with growing boldness, deep remorse over the country’s economy and decay in physical infrastructure. They lament the decline in moral standards seen in rising greed, criminality and corruption that the regime seems to have exacerbated.

In the end, Jammeh’s policies have succeeded in undermining the very principles upon which his neo-liberal economic strategy- “Vision 2020” rested, and in doing so, jeopardized the short-term economic recovery and future economic prospects of the Gambian economy. Today, over 65 per cent of the population lives at the cusp of hunger and starvation. The lack of access to basic water and electricity supplies are now more the norm and some communities go for months without both. This has meant suffering and deepening poverty for the bulk of the rural and urban poor. Despite construction of several new high and middle schools, large rural hospitals and the construction of a new television station and university, which are clearly welcome developments, Gambians are worse of economically today than they were in 1993.

Today, a combination of both active and “retired” military officers, some unscrupulous civil-servants and business-persons and torn-coat “intellectuals” now constitute a new social “class” that has bankrupted the country while the poor go hungry daily. Therefore, Gambians are today witnessing and victims of unprecedented human rights violations and a country teetering on economic collapse and national disintegration similar to what occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Another continuing challenge to The Gambia’s national-security is the “culture of impunity” and the “culture of silence” in which government-security agents and quasi-government groups take the law into their hands with official sanction or silence. The cultures of impunity and of silence are pervasive, in part because the citizenry accept government atrocities as a matter of life. A conservative political culture mixed with fatalistic tendencies deriving partly from conservative Sunni Islam, have conspired to ensure citizen compliance. Thus, a façade of peace prevails, which the population appears to cherish rather than challenge. In doing so, maintaining “peace” is used as ideological ammunition by a repressive regime to quell dissent even though both state-sponsored abuse and citizen insecurity are on the increase.

Ultimately though, the greatest threat to The Gambia’s national-security lies within the army itself. Internal factionalism, poor discipline and training, and growing discontent within it could result in overt and deadly conflicts. These conflicts are then likely to spill-over into society and could lead to national disintegration. Add to this the brewing tensions between a growing refuge and immigrant population, on one hand, and an underclass urban Gambian youth population, on the other. These growing tensions could erupt in political violence. And precisely because of the absence of government and societal governance institutions and mechanism to curb these tensions, a failed state syndrome now exists in The Gambia which could push it over the precipice.

In sum, under Jammeh’s leadership there is what I term a “triple crisis” of governance. The first is the lack of accountability and the rule of law as evidenced in pervasive corruption, criminal violence, and personalization of power and human rights abuses. The second crisis is economic. It stems in part from a failure to implement prudent economic policies. The third crisis can be seen in the deteriorating living conditions and well-being for the bulk of Gambians. These crises constitute a serious national-security deficit. They are the net effect of eleven years of military and quasi-military misrule and all directly impact national and personal security immensely. It is these characteristics that precisely define a failed state syndrome. Together, they constitute the greatest challenge to The Gambia’s continued existence as a country.

Therefore, good leadership in conjunction with a sound governance policy framework are essential ingredients to maintaining national-security and building a democracy. This is more the reason why we should do all we can to ensure NADD’s victory in 2006. Because in the end, the nature and quality of governance under a NADD leadership and the types of policies it chooses, will be important in shaping the security apparatus and the economy.

The formation of NADD in January 2005 as well as growing international and domestic pressures on Jammeh bode well for the future of democracy and security in The Gambia. Yet, a lot remains to be done before the 2006 presidential elections. In addition to the issue of a standard-bearer, a level playing field must be put in place as well as new registration of voters. Additionally, a non-partisan and reconfigured IEC to allow for NADD representation, media access for NADD, franchise for Gambians living abroad, the presence of international observers and most importantly, financial support from the Diaspora could make all the difference in 2006.

Furthermore, the AU must be dissuaded from holding its summit in The Gambia in 2006, shortly before the elections. Otherwise, this would be sending the wrong signals and constitutes tacit approval of Jammeh’s abysmal human rights record. Accordingly, intense international pressure from the Commonwealth, Britain, the EU, Japan and the US must be focused on the AU to cancel its planned summit. These development partners, together with NADD, Senegal and Nigeria must also insist on free and fair elections in 2006 without violence and intimidation. The continuing presence of extremely punitive Media laws, removal from the national assembly of four national assembly members and what many believe to be the politically motivated assassination of Deyda Hydara may signal a more repressive and violent future heading into the 2006 presidential elections.

While all hope is not lost in returning The Gambia to the functioning democracy which it once was, there are indeed troubling dark clouds on the horizon with potential negative effects. The 2006 Presidential elections and a NADD victory are crucial in averting the looming but real threat to The Gambia. Free and fair elections, ladies and gentlemen, offer us the best hope for peaceful change in The Gambia, the alternative could spell disaster. As the saying goes, “if you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent change inevitable.”

In conclusion, I wish to commend STGDP-Minnesota for this wonderful contribution and their productive collaboration with STGDP-Atlanta. I encourage all NADD and other Gambian Organizations in the US and Europe to strengthen contacts with each other, work together more to harmonize fundraising and other activities. Because in STGDP we have what may, in fact, be the makings of an international Gambian Organization that would give Diaspora Gambians considerable political and economic leverage.

Thank you!

In an interview with ABC News, Bennett said that anyone who knows him knows he isn't racist. He said he was merely extrapolating from the best-selling book "Freakonomics," which posits the hypothesis that falling crimes rates are related to increased abortion rates decades ago. "It would have worked for, you know, single-parent moms; it would have worked for male babies, black babies," Bennett said.
First off, let us get this straight right now -- Bill Bennett is RACIST. From the above statement, I surmise that he is not only racist but unapologetic about it. Don’t fall for his Crapo cola. Talk of race can always get dicey as we sometimes seem to be debating from two separate sets of opinion depending on our biases. However what we need in a situation like this, is adherence to truth and acceptance that billy boy's commentary are not factual. Below are some of the things we all can agree upon:

  • The vast, overwhelming majority of black Americans are not poor, much less criminals.-
  • Race plays no role in whether someone will commit a crime.-
  • The majority of crimes (all types included) in America are committed by white people (DUH! They are the majority).
That said, why didn’t Bill Bennett extrapolate the aborting of fetuses from any other race to cut crime in America but blacks? The jerk says he is not a bigot after he says about the most bigoted thing I've ever heard. Before this is all said and done he will act like a common klans man and cower behind the first amendment. So anyone still making excuses for him can kiss my whole black ass. And I mean that in the most sincere way.

Reports coming out of the Gambia has the opposition NADD retaining three of the four contested seats in the by elections held today. Todays events are triggered by the ruling of the supreme court vacating the representative status of messrs Halifa Sallah, Sidia Jatta, Kemeseng Jammeh and Hamat Bah. The later (Hamat Bah) been the only one reported to have lose his seat.

NADD should make sure no shenanigans were employed by Yahya Jammeh and his cronies to dillute the electorate as Hamat has previously claimed that almost tweenty five hundred voters have been illegally transfered to his constituency. Don't throw in the towel until every reasonable suspicion is clarified. Whatever they do NADD leadership should never pull an ousainou darbo in this case.

But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you
could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky…
Bill Bennett

Hmmm. This illustrates how compassionate a conservative he really is. Isn't this the same bozo that has a gambling problem? I knew he think like that; but it is kinda shocking though to hear him said it out loud. Racist asshole. But it's not about racism, I keep telling ya! Some indignant fool reading this post will say. To them I say: Oh, forget it. It is. It so is. Always has been, too. Denial is a powerful force, but it's exhausting.

I'm going to bet my next paycheck that he will claim to have been taken out of context. Any takers?

You know, you don't have to actually go to the trouble of aborting black babies billy boy. Letting them die of dehydration and exposure during a national disaster is much less work, and you don't get the fundamentalists up in arms either.

I think there are two lessons we need to take away from the Katrina fiasco:

First, the people we saw rioting in New Orleans are America's flotsam, and they exist in every society. Other than the physically disabled, young children and seniors 80 years old and up, the people we saw holed up in the Superdome and elsewhere are the perfect demonstration of what happens to people who choose (yes, choose) to lead third-world lives in a capitalist society.They were accustomed to living off a government check every month, accustomed to subsidized housing, accustomed to food paid for by food stamps. They've elected politicians like Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco to make them comfortable in that third-world existence, and now they have neither the resources nor the political leadership to survive in a time of crisis. Such has been the case throughout history for people who don't take charge of their lives.

When I started reading this, I thought to myself here goes another redneck, but then I realized Billingsly is himself black…God is he pitiful or what? I guess these are the kind of people Cynthia called Negroes.

I got one question for this moron though…what "rioting"?

Billingsly says "the people we saw rioting in New Orleans are America's flotsam..." but the only New Orleans people I saw on TV were the old people sitting patiently in their wheelchairs in front of the Convention Centre. And the mothers carrying two or three children, calling for help. Oh, and I saw the same footage over and over of a few dozen people carrying TVs and armfuls of clothes out of a couple of stores.

I have to admit that I skipped most of the article. Black Republicans bore me. The one comment that stuck with me was the 'flotsam' comment. Of all the harmful stereotypes, the 'they are all on welfare and food stamps' is the most harmful. We have a lot of poor people in this country, more of them white than black, and most of them contribute more in taxes than they receive in services. Yes, 'the poor will always be with us' but, we don't have to have a society that is actively hostile to poor people's interests.

This might really sound stupid. But you know what has really amazed and shocked me about this? It's the eye-opener regarding how absolutely poor and isolated much of the population of New Orleans was prior to Katrina. And how much of a distinct culture it was. I must admit that I really had no idea.

Although I'm white, I've lived predominantly black neighborhoods in Washington DC, Seattle, and Texas at various times, and thought I had a certain sense of Black America. But after going down to the Astrodome and meeting other Katrina
evacuees here in Waco I realize that New Orleans really was different.

Even the style of dress is different. I see the women wearing these colorful dresses and headscarves that are completely different from how black Texan women dress. It's a style of dress that's almost more African, more like you'd see in Nigeria or Bahia Brazil. My wife's clinic in Waco serves a mostly black and Hispanic population and she says the Katrina evacuees are instantly recognizable. She can instantly tell from their dress, language, and comportment who's from Texas and who's from New Orleans. She says that a lot of the women she's talked to have never been out of New Orleans in their entire lives. That Waco is the first place they've ever been. Imagine that.

I don't have any better guess about how this is all going to work out than anyone else. My instinct is that it will be sort of like any other immigrant wave. The adults will have difficulty adjusting to new circumstances and many never will. The kids will quickly if not instantly adapt to their new surroundings.

Ok who is falling for this bullshit?

Black Evacuees from New Orleans can't possibly be similar to Americans from other states… No way … to be that poor and that illiterate, they must be Africans.

How this supposedly white guy who grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Washington DC can say… ‘Even the dress style is similar to Nigeria or Brazil’...How the fuck is that similar? Do you want to tell me the people you saw on television are either pulled from a swampy village in South America or West Africa? Really?

Is it so hard for Americans to be confronted with their own poverty? Must Americans always live in denial and when faced with the truth, attempt to brush it off as some kind of African disease?The gap between the haves and have not in America has always been wide and has always been in existence. The truth has constantly been swept under the carpet, or in some quarters blame is placed on the poor for not making it.

The poverty of most New Orleans evacuees is third world indeed. I bet the writer has never been to an African country? So from images plastered on his TV screen, he came to the conclusion that these people eerily look similar to what he show on the national geographic channel. Poor, black and illiterate? They’ve got to be African.

The minute you walked in the joint. I could see you were a man of distinction. A
real big spender . . .Hey big spender, spend a little time with me…Dorothy Fields

With his lowly army origins, taste for excess and contempt for democracy, Yahya Jammeh is in many ways a cliché of the African Big Man. This man has no shame at all. He came to New York with a plane load of per diem collecting cronies and end up spending $10,000 organizing a picnic in the big apple. Hey, big spender…Dorothy Fields classic adored by my wife comes to mind. Where did he get the foreign currency when the average Gambian is destitute you might ask? And why on this particular group of people who are well off compared to the living standards prevailing in their homeland.

But that is African elitism for you. From east to west, the pattern is drearily repetitive. Keep just enough at home to rig the next election, pay off the army, build a garish palace (complete with Olympic-sized swimming pool), buy yourself an old soviet made plane, then stack the rest in offshore bank accounts in your relatives name and occasionally throw chump change at citizens in the diaspora who can’t compete in the merit based societies of their host countries. Whatever you do, get the money out of the country and never bring it back. Yahya learnt the trade from the old masters…the Sani Abachas of western Africa, who allocated millions of barrels of his nation’s crude to yahya no questions asked. Don’t tell me he wasn’t aware that proceeds from the sale of crude meant for the Gambia ended up in Yahya’s big ‘Waramba’ pockets.

It is no wonder why Asia, with comparable economic indicators in the 1950s surpass Africa in economic growth rates. It is caused by a group of Africans headed by the Yahya Jammehs that relentlessly cannibalizes the system, consuming and stealing from the very industries, agricultural sectors or aid flows on which its prosperity should be based.

But should we be all doom and gloom about the future of Africa? Not if you subscribe to the view of anti- corruption campaigners, who pin their hopes on the emergence of a savvy new generation of urban Africans-whose members attended American and European colleges. These young men and women, the thinking goes, will not look to the government for future employment, are less likely to be swayed by tribal loyalties and are less ready than their forefathers to attribute automatic value to western symbols of prestige, whether a Swiss bank account or a home in Atlanta…most of them already had one.

"The phenomenon of capital flight is essentially born out of an inferiority complex," says a Kenyan business journalist. "For that inferiority complex to disappear, you need at least one generation of stability and market-based success. It is destined to fade as society changes, and the agent for change will be the emerging urban middle class."

Until that generation seizes the reins of power, (we are looking at October of 2006 in the case of Gambia if the NADD experiment bears fruit); any development programme that fails to tackle what the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo has described as "a bigger threat to Africa's development than Aids" risks being doomed from the outset because the Yahya Jammehs will continue to raid the cookie jar while the rest of their country men starve.

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