By Mathew K Jallow
In George Orwell's Animal Farm, the two main characters, Napoleon and Squealer, ostracized Napoleon's partner Snowball and drove him from the farm by making false allegation of impropriety and economic sabotage against him. The duo then proceeded to consolidate their power and enrich themselves; looting, raping and imposing an unbearable tyranny over the rest of the animal kingdom. Animal Farm's storied narrative may not necessarily have a moral lesson, but it is a timeless melodrama symbolizing the nature of human greed and man's capacity for evil deeds.
This tragic Orwellian characterization of his times may be a work of fiction which could easily have been written by William Shakespeare six centuries earlier or crafted into a tragic theatre play by Sophocles twenty-three centuries ago, but the substance of the story is predictably relevant in our times. If the harrowing rancor that bedeviled the relationship between the governing Napoleon and Squealer duo and the governed kingdom animals spells the genius of Orwell, perhaps it is worth adding the gift of clairvoyance to his deserved collection of accomplishments and accolades.
Animal Farm captures the human features that spell out the moral bankruptcy characteristic of the Machiavellian school of thought; the acquisition and retention of absolute power, wealth and privilege at any cost, which is symptomatic of dictatorships throughout history. One would think Animal Farm was written with today's rulers in mind, for its narrative suddenly comes alive again in the stories of tyranny and dictatorship so prevalent on our African continent. Close to home, the Animal Farm story when superimposed on our troubled past decade and half history will showcase a compelling narrative of boundless lunacy, jaw-dropping greed and out-of-this-world cruelty. And each day that passes, Animal Farm's main evil character Napoleon, looks more like a Napoleon of a different era and of a different time, yet alive and well in The Gambia; Yahya Jammeh.
The horror stories, known and unknown, of our recent past history under Jammeh's burdensome and unbearable tyranny, bear that out. Like dictators past, Yahya Jammeh has embrace Niccolo Machiavelli theories and lessons in leadership, lock, stock and barrel, unedited and without moral reservation. Jammeh's continues to adapt so creatively to the times, not for the better, but for the worst; never deviating from the core Machiavellian doctrine, which has defined his sixteen-year long reign of terror. The executions and murders of innocent citizens and non-citizens alike, may account for the greatest stains on the regime's unflattering resume, but other bizarre behaviors that have courted public attention and deservedly so, point to a level of desperation that has compelled Jammeh to outdo himself in the severity of the agents and mechanisms of terror that he employs to secure compliance from a servile people.
In a society malleable to psychological manipulation, Yahya Jammeh's attempts to use of mysticism and mystification of himself, has resulted in his declaration of possessing supernatural powers that enable him to perform cures of terminal diseases; a public declaration that left the scientific world and prestigious medical research institutions around the globe gasping with dizzying incredulity. The effects of his herbal "cures" and devil worship on the vulnerable and desperately sick is yet unknown, but that has not stopped Yahya Jammeh giving false hopes to the poor and desperately sick. But if this alone is not strange enough, the witch-hunting exercise around the country two years ago, made the Salem, Massachusetts witch-hunting in 1692 almost look like a child's play.
The desperation of the target population; the old and weak, created such a sense of despondency around the country, some people were willing to cut Yahya Jammeh life short to save the country of his monstrous and demonic behavior, even if meant losing their own lives in the process. But Yahya Jammeh who is habituated to creating social disruptions that have far-reaching psychological impacts that are often severely traumatic to his victims, has again graduated to a new dimension of craziness that is leaving many families worried if not downright scared that their loved ones may fall victim to Yahya Jammeh's over handed and over-bearing behavior.
Three weeks ago, Yahya Jammeh's regime arrested and detained some family members of politician Mai Fatty, and last week, a former young Gambian military officer exiled in Senegal, Musa Drammeh, bore the brunt of Jammeh's cruel vengeance when his family was arrested and detained without cause. This is a new departure from the norm for Yahya Jammeh, and it is bound to cause consternation in the minds of Gambians vulnerable to abuse and intimidation by the Jammeh regime. Gambians must raise their voices and refuse to be silenced any longer, and if the cases of Musa Drammeh and Mai Fatty's families are anything to go by, we once again might be in for a long dark, night. But one thing is certain, Yahya Jammeh's bizarre behaviors and maltreatment of innocent Gambians is the cruel epitome of the primitiveness of his psychopathological idiosyncrasies.
This demented new chapter thrust before our discriminating consciences, must concern us all greatly. And as the famous and timeless German poetry quote goes: At first they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me ~ Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1946.