Chege Mbitiru wrote:One of the malaise to afflict most African leaders since the dawn of colonialism’s end about half a century ago is failure to grasp a combination of two truisms.
These are Biblical “They shall have eyes and not see; ears and not hear…” and, as American Kenny Rogers sang, “You got to know when to fold ‘em; know when to walk away; know when to run,” in a different context, but valid in politics.
The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh finally got it right and bowed.
Hopefully this holds in the 60 days the constitution allows him to govern, or as some would say, misgovern.
Following a resounding defeat in Thursday’s presidential elections after 22 years on the seat, Jammeh congratulated the winner, property developer Adama Barrow, for a “clear victory”.
He said the elections were “transparent” and “rig-proof,” admission the previous ones he won were neither.
The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission announced Mr Barrow got 45 per cent of the vote; Mr Jammeh 36.
The country has about 880,000 eligible voters. The turnout was 65 per cent. Jubilation was abundant.
The concession is a monumental come down for a man who had titled himself “His Excellency Sheik Professor Dr Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jamus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa", an embellishment of not so short name at birth.
He even claimed healing powers and was filmed displaying voodoo medical practice on presumably an Aids patient.
With hindsight, Mr Jammeh can claim a cover.
Five years ago, he told the BBC: “I will deliver to the Gambian people and if I have to rule this country for a billion years, I will, if Allah says so.”
This time it was, the Voice of America quoted him, “Allah is telling me my time is up”.
He can afford the claim. Allah will never show up to confirm or deny saying or willing anything.
The Gambia shouldn’t be difficult to govern. It isn’t even difficult to militarily take over.
That’s how come at 29, Jammeh and a group of young officers easily in 1994 ousted then president, Sir Dawda Jawara.
The country’s land mass is 10,000 square kilometres; the river it’s named after, 1,295 square kms.
The coastline is 80 kilometres — a two day walking distance — but its pristine beaches draw thousands of tourists, their money augmenting potentially useful natural resources: fish, clay, silica sand, titanium, tin and zircon.
Managed well, all this would do great for Gambians, 2016 population estimated at slightly over two million.
Unfortunately, Jammeh has spent his rule presiding over alleged all manner of abuses a head of state is capable of.
Even if only five per cent of the allegations are true, it’s a wonder the International Criminal Court hasn’t paid him a visit.
At 51, he has promised to go to his farm.
Hopefully Allah will give him a cause — other than to scheme a comeback — to redeem himself and Gambia shall never again have the likes of him in any capacity of leadership.
A surprise from Yahya Jammeh as he concedes
Gambia: President Elect Barrow Says Jammeh Is Free To Stay In The Gambia Peacefully As A Private Citizen; As Barrow Declares “No Witch Hunting” Under His Administration
It's a surprise that a dictator would concede electoral defeat and enabled a peaceful transfer of power. If the country goes on to prosper, he should be remembered in its history for this repentant act.
Of course, it's highly possible that he struck a deal with the new guy that he would not be persecuted. But still.