Monday, 15 September 2008

Working Alone

The major force in Gambian politics that should have swayed the masses is PDOIS. This party has principles and a good out look for the Gambia. from their early days, things didn't go well with them. One strategy i find puzzling was their non-association with villagers they encounter during campaign trials. I first came across PDOIS in the 1987 election. They won me over instantly, even though at that time i was under the legal age of voting. Their message hit home smoothly. I can still remember Honourable Sedia's comments about a frog in the well, enjoying whilst the well is full with food and goodies.
The big problem of PDOIS which they didn't realise was their refusal to stay with folks in the Provence's. they don't stay with people, they don't drink from others home, neither do they eat from villagers. This i believe was a major culture shock to the local masses. yes PDOIS was doing its best to change the culture of wastage and partying. But they have gone over the top in that process of being independent from local people's food and water. But our culture encourages sharing and communal socialising. this affect PDOIS very much because people show that attitude as an arrogance, and a bunch of people who don't have much respect for the people, so the people blinded themselves to the messages of the party.
Another down side of PDOIS is their insistence on having a close hierarchy. It has only being the same people saying the same thing within the party, there has been very few new faces within the party that has any serious authority to speak on their own behalf. The party should allow other members to speak on issues of human rights, religion, education etc. each important social institution should be handle by an expert not one person doing all the talking. This makes the party unattractive. also succession issue should be made such that the grass root are involve and are in the know.
In general, the party is the most viable party worth our time and energy. They have in place a program, an ideology that people can analyse and study and even criticise, whilst other parties lack this vital element. Politics is about ideas and leaders, African leaders seems to be good at one thing, that is locking up people and making life hard for their opponents, yet even God leave us alone to do as we like until we met him. Why can't our leaders be soft in less critical matters? why can't they over-look trivial matters? They should concentrate of building ideas and being in tune with modern politics. They should labour to Africanise issues that will bolster our identity and respect. They should build on uniting the people regardless of political affiliation. True peace is hard to achieve, but creating a good cordial environment helps.
Finally the shock of last election was a big assault on PDOIS and the Gambia. The failure of Hon. Halifa to win back his Serrekunda seat is a shock to all lovers of democracy. Halifa is force to be recon with whether one likes him or not. He is good for the Gambian politics, it is a big blow to him and the people of the Gambia. The epitome of daily political discussion is the national assembly, an effective national assembly should have men like Halifa, he has the charisma and eloquence to deliver critical messages. And lovers of politics will always be interested in his analysis.
There is still hope, lets hope for the best.


Anonymous said...

Suntou, let me first commend you for a great analysis of PDOIS. Like you, I was exposed to PDIOS after the 1987 election when I stumbled on one of their papers. Although they did not win me right away, they caught my attention which lead to reading about them more.
I agree fully that PDOIS’s failure to connect with the villagers/average Gambian is a great part of their struggle to "sway the masses". I have no doubt that absent the villagers, most of whom are illiterates; PDOIS will do well within the literate population. Their failure as you called it “they don't drink from others home, neither do they eat from villagers”, added with the fact that they are never visible during funerals, naming ceremonies, and other functions were interpreted as a lack of people skills “Hadamaya” per Mandinaka saying. Former president Jawara’s success was based on his ability to connect with the people and the simply fact that he mingled with them personally and when he can’t he made sure that he was represented WELL.
On what you called “close hierarchy”, this is an African problem. With the absent of a few nations like South Africa, we have the same players on the political scene to this date. I am confident that an indebt study of the reasons the old guards hang on to power too long and how to make them let go might solve some of the problems the continent is faced with. Term limits is definitely not in our book, something all African countries should look into.
The killer for PPP was their failure to look into the future and groom young political minded Gambians to join them. The end result is the mess we are in right now.
Finally, beyond charisma and eloquence, I have no doubt that PDOIS is the party that can help us out of the mess we are in right now, but they have to dig deeper and find ways to connect with the people. This might mean brining in young and new faces to help them accomplish this goal. PDOIS have the right mind set and something tell me that they will one day be the party to BEAT, but only if they start now.


You are spot on!!. PDOIS weren't interacting more. if they had done that things would be different for them today. i remember listening to my grandmother saying "who are this people who don't mingle" they juSt talk and move on. this was a miscalculation.EVEN THE LIKES OF OBAMA USE PEOPLE SKILL. Gambians are good at harbouring sentiments. as you said, Ex-president jawara's people's skill paid off. he over and again won people over. your analysis of the over staying leaders is also factual. students of politics need to dwell into this mentality and rationally highligt this short-coming in our politics. thanks for that educative comment.

Anonymous said...

I have been a staunch supporter of PDOIS over many years, but I have to frankly say that I am losing hope in the party. I still like their political philosophy, and personal character, but their rigid and archaic method of political campaign and fundraising particularly is beginning to worry me a lot.
I think the emergence of new leaders could help a lot in transforming PDOIS into a populist party that will stand a chance at wrestling power from the APRC, or at least be a serious contender on the Gambian political scene.


Anonymous said...

SZMr. Suntou, I know you are upcess with PDOIS. You have always yearn for a serious debate on PDOIS but you have not been able to earn one yet.

This is simply because instead of being professional about the position on the issues, you keep jumping from one ban waggen to another. At times you are seen criticising PDOIS so you win the support of their enemies, other times you are seen rejoicing from their demise and sometimes you appear to be neutral.

There must be something you are digging for and you might just find it some day.

You want to really engage in policy and strategic discussions of PDOIS them you must be prepared to remain professional and on the issues.

See you on the forum...


Thank you for your comment. I am not only looking to engage PDOIS supporters or high officials, i am aspiring to make Gambians think about the political options. many PDOIS strong supporters percieve me as a critic who don't know much about the party, to them anyone who question the party's mode of operation is either confuse or lacking conprehension. some times i criticise the party for good reasons, but i have never align myself with any other political party in the Gambia. this is becus i wish to know the philosophies behind the relevant parties, i am not easily moved by emotion and rethoric. so for me, PDOIS has a good platform, an agenda and a good message, but what bothers me is their socail operations. i know sedia won two elections in wulli, i was present at some of his gatherings, he targeted the youths and he indoctrinated them with a good message, they later mobilise other youths, thus his support base. but still there are overwhelming number of older folks who don't understand the parties message. this are areas i question. i believe strongly in maintaining traditional values, and also remembering the importance of our elders. Other parties like the UDP don't seem to have a clear message. yes, all the parties are calling for good governabce and democracy, the proper implimentaion of the rule of law, but this are a general message that any party can give, but what is unique about them is missing.
as for APRC, i don't even want to know about them. this party is base on the cult of yahya, period.
I am not interested in people responding to what i wrote, i want us to think about them. i am lossing the apitite for combative debating, it doesn't resolve anything. but if we can think about issues, may be one day, our hearts will met. i respect the pdois founders, but it is time they put inplace a clear patern for succession. Halifa is geting old and sedia and Sam are alreayd old. look at the the ANC, they have a platform that executives can be removed smoothly. who is the likely replacement for Halifa? who? i beleive in open discussion on leadership matters, we have some folks with leadership abitions hiding behind intellectual prowess, but this is old fashion. let them come out and tell us what they want, we can debate them now and analyse their suitability. you can also see some pdois supporters having doubts about the leaders. they need to make their hard work stand the test of time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brother Suntou,

Very interesting observations on PDOIS. As you say all Gambians should ask questions and think about the agendas and modus operandi of those who aspire to lead them. Like many who have commented on this your interesting topic, i have been a PDOIS sympathiser since its inception.

I believe they have the best program and capability to lead our country to progress and prosperity but as you rightly put it why are they not winning the masses over. I do not have the answer. It may be as you adduced in the way they operate is anathema to Gambian political tradition or perhaps the problem might be more complex than that.

On the issue of changing the PDOIS hierarchy, this is very interesting. I guess the party's leadership would be more than grateful and happy to leave a legacy that will keep PDOIS as a permanent institution in the Gambian polity.

However, i do wonder how many amongst those claiming to be PDOIS supporters, militants and sympathizers are ready to put the energy and sacrifice in terms of finance, time,family and what have you to keep the party going like the founders are doing.

It is easy for people like me to claim that i sympathise with a party such as PDOIS but i know inside me, i do not have the commitment and the courage to do as the likes of Sedia, Halifa and Sam are doing. It takes a lot of stature and devotion to be able to do as these great guys are doing.

I hope that we shall see soon new charismatic and committed leaders such as the founders emerge and carry the mantle of the party forward. I do not know Swaebou Touray but he seem to be well equiped to do any role any of the founders are doing.

Anyway, Bro Sountou keep up the intellectual inquiry. It is interesting and i hope your couriosity and desire for a better Gambian polity will become a reality sooner than later.

Bests wishes,

Anonymous said...

Suntou, I was eagerly going to read your article but as soon as I got into your blog, the first phrase I came across just put me off. It reads; 'The major force' in reference to pdois's position in Gambian politics. I think that is where you screwed everything up as no reasonable political commentator would describe a party that has never cross a 3% threshold in any general election in its entire history as 'a major force'. It is just factually inconceivable and deceitful. I think the use of that phrase is a very poor start and poor judgment on your part. You need to take a prompt action to set the record straight in order to allow a healthy debate based on facts, and not distortion or deciet. And don't get me wrong, I am not accusing you of any thing. I like to believe that this is an inadvertent mistake but given the deceitful impression it connotes, I think anyone who cares about facts and the truth would undoubtedly agree with me that your chosen phrase is not the best to describe a marginal party of PDOIS'S calibre.

Please advice me whenever this correction is made. It would certainly give me an appetite to read your article in full.


Anonymous said...

In response to the 9/20/08, 11:26 posting, I gently object to your argument. Any party that participates in an election is a “major force”. We have seen how independent candidates in US elections and many across the globe changed outcomes, despite their size and percentage of votes earned. I think you missed Suntou’s point. His argument was simply stating reasons why PDOIS have failed to connect with the masses; their lack of connecting with the average Gambian due to failure of participating in day to day local affairs.
The second argument to describe PDOIS as a major force is the simple fact that Halifa and his colleagues are now seen as one of the few that dares challenge the current regime. I hate to imagine a Gambia without PDOIS the only to challenge the status quo? They are more or less our watchmen behind close doors. Although no one listens to them but they are doing us good by listening, objecting and reporting back to us. Creating the sense of being exposed if things are done wrong or to root them deeper.
Finally, to not pass judgment, let us all begin to debate without condemning each other. Suntou is doing an excellent job and when he faults, we should be constructive but not discouraging. I hope you do not take this personal. It is time we all compliment each other more, the beginning and only path to success.
For the Gambia, our homeland.


Very interesting comments. to start with, i use the phrase major force to mean 'there capability in deciding election out comes'. no matter how low we think the party scores in elections, we cannot discount that as marginal, their message is powerful, it only fall short of convincing the targeted voters.
i would like to think that if the UDP who scores more with voters can create an idealogy that young and old folks alike can identify with, no one would question that party's overall influence, but unfortunately, i don't see any such idea with them. so when we as sincere Gambians are talking of political options, PDOIS should be our choice. like the last writer states, lets debate the topic with what we know of the party and why we think it is under-performing with all its dedicated members and high officials. i would love to comment of the UDP failures as well, but one at a time may do us good. i have spoken to some strong udp supporters in the U.S and the Gambia, i was looking for the party's unique selling point, but sadly, i havent't been inundated with any yet. i search continues. if we can identify the reasons of pdois under-performing, we may solve a puzzle. the Gambia is for us all, let those who are ready and capable of leading us be supported, no matter who that person or persons may be.

Anonymous said...

Suntou,thanks for bringing the debate about PDOIS to our attention as frequently as you do. I know there is something bothering you about PDOIS, and you like many others, are looking for answers to these questions or issues.

I think there is a general agreement about the plausability and suitability of PDOIS's ideas and prgrams in our political marketplace; their ideas and programs can compete comparatively with all other ideas and programs. So in my opinion, the fundamental problem with PDOIS is not about content, or even how such a content is understood or misunderstood. The fundamental problem about PDOIS is its approach to politics in the Gambia.

And until PDOIS expands the discussion and inguiry beyond PDOIS itself, and its programs and activities, and seek to incorporate the ideas and contentions of others who share the same aims and aspirations, there will always be difficulties in their path.


Anonymous said...

Well said ANON "So in my opinion, the fundamental problem with PDOIS is not about content, or even how such a content is understood or misunderstood. The fundamental problem about PDOIS is its approach to politics in the Gambia.

And until PDOIS expands the discussion and inguiry beyond PDOIS itself, and its programs and activities, and seek to incorporate the ideas and contentions of others who share the same aims and aspirations, there will always be difficulties in their path".
The above is best summary of PDOIS chanllenges in the Gambia, added with planning the future, by embrasing the young. The general notion is for the young to join, but PDOIS and any ideas for that matter must be sold to the young by not only educating them but working with them as early are the begining of high school.