Book Review: ‘FOCUS; Challenges of The Gambia Transition To Democracy’

Book Review

A must-read Book that has sold out on shelves of the Prominent Bookstore in The Gambia. Due to the high demand, more copies are made available on this telling piece: Life under dictatorship to a morphosise civilian rule!

FOCUS; Challenges of The Gambia Transition To Democracy’ is a compilation of articles published by Demba Ali Jawo while he was working with the Daily Observer. The articles, which were mainly analysis of the political situation in the country at the time, were published from 1994 after the military takeover by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) until his sacking by the new management of the Observer Company Limited in 1999.

It could be recalled that the Daily Observer was founded and owned by Kenneth Best, a Liberian national who took refuge in The Gambia during the Liberian civil war in the 1990s. He was later detained and deported back to Liberia shortly after the AFPRC took power. In 1999. He later sold the Daily Observer to Amadou Samba, a prominent businessman, and shortly after that, Mr. Jawo was sacked by the new management. The series of articles in the book cover quite a significant period in the history of The Gambia. There is no doubt that while the articles make an interesting reflection of what transpired during the transition period and the first few years after the return to civilian rule, they also contain quite useful historical lessons for everyone, including those who are currently involved in various tiers of the running of the country.

While the articles are mainly commentaries on contemporary political issues, but they also covered various other aspects of social life as it existed under the strict military regime imposed by the AFPRC junta and the subsequent civilian regime which succeeded the junta, but which was merely like the junta in civilian dress. The articles vary from topics like ‘The ‘Opinion Leaders’ – whose opinion do they represent?’, ‘Signs and symptoms of religious intolerance’ to ‘A date with the NIA’ in which the author narrated in detail his two nights’ detention at the NIA headquarters at the Old GMPB offices in Banjul. The articles also dealt with several other topics analysing the burning issues of the day such as the perennial debate on the role of district chiefs in the governance system as well as various other facets of the transition process. While The Gambia returned to full constitutional rule since 1997, but there was still a heavy residue of militarism in the governance system.

The book, published in 2011, is being sold at the Timbooktoo Bookshop on Garba Jahumpa Road in Bakau New Town at a price of D150.

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