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In Defense of Alhagie Bora Amidst the Onslaught on Freedom of Expression in The Gambia

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Alagie Bora Sisawo, Comedian & Co Host on Badinya Kaacha on Kerr Fatou.

By Ken Hamut, Washington DC, USA 

In a sphere where the sanctity of untrammeled discourse and the harmonious interplay of myriad voices are extolled as the very keystones of societal evolution, we find ourselves enmeshed in a disquieting narrative within The Gambia—a nation ensnared within the constricting grip of an assault on the sacred bastion of unfettered expression. At the center stage of this stark tableau stands Kerr Fatou Media, a resolute embodiment of journalistic integrity and unwavering veracity. Amidst the tumultuous currents of our era, its dedicated cohort of truth-seekers has emerged as valiant inquisitors, daring to dissect the covert machinations and intricate webs spun by the political elite.

Visualize, if you will, The Gambia transformed into a vast proscenium, its tapestries intricately woven like the threads of George Orwell’s magnum opus, “1984.” Within this evocative and contemplative panorama, a gripping theatrical exposé unfolds with poignant intensity. The government, conjuring forth the specters of Orwell’s enigmatic Thought Police, maintains an iron-clad dominion over the lives of its beleaguered citizenry. The parallels between this disconcerting dystopian narrative and the unsettling reality are all too palpable. They yield a somber tableau where The Gambia’s unfolding saga converges with the frosty echoes of authoritarian ascendancy—a tale of foreboding proportions that crystallizes before our discerning gaze. 

In this dramatic diorama, it is as though an astute and sagacious director has assumed masterful control over President Barrow’s modus operandi, choreographing a performance that audaciously diverges from the well-worn script of democratic governance. Rather than drawing inspiration from the annals of civil liberties and equitable impartiality, Barrow appears to derive impetus from the dusty pages of Jammeh’s labyrinthine diary—a disconcerting compendium adorned with shades of ominous manipulation, casting an unsettling aura over the unfolding scenario. 

From this backdrop emerges our tragically designated protagonist—Alhagie Bora—an eminent figure within Kerr Fatou Media. He stands not merely as a symbol of insubordination but as an embodiment of unbridled expression. His articulate discourse, once akin to a harmonious concerto, has been grotesquely contorted and intricately ensnared by the cunning stratagems of the powerful elite. This metamorphosis twists his eloquence into the very shackles that now confine him.  In a surreal and almost tragicomic spectacle, the Gambian constabulary, reminiscent of the formidable Russian KGB, seem to engage in an audacious pageant of recognition—vying to outdo each other in a race to fulfill arbitrary apprehension quotas. All this transpires in a bid to curry favor with the burgeoning autocratic tendencies embraced with equal parts fervor and obliviousness by President Adam Barrow. 

Amidst this cacophony, any semblance of oversight evaporates, leaving the stage open for a chaotic dance of disjointed maneuvers. This transformation of governance, perturbingly conspicuous, reverberates throughout the grand tapestry of history—a recurring motif within the theater of the ages. Even revered icons of resistance, such as the esteemed Martin Luther King Jr., found themselves enmeshed in a crescendo of opposition as they challenged the symphony of systemic oppression. Paradoxically, they waged battles against the very authorities they aimed to challenge. Dr. King’s sagacious adage, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” resounds with renewed urgency. It implores The Gambia’s populace not merely to defend Alhagie Bora but to unify resolutely in endorsing the core tenets of free discourse and democracy—a symphony that transcends geographical boundaries and territorial confines. 

The charges attributed to Bora inhabit a realm that surpasses the bounds of even the most elaborate courtroom theatrics—exceeding the limits of counterfeit Rolex horology. The law enforcement machinery, tragically devoid of credible substantiation, emits an intention as glaring as the relentless noon sun. This meticulously orchestrated endeavor seems designed to sow seeds of trepidation and disrupt the harmonious cadence at Kerr Fatou—a choreographed ballet tailored to stifle the vibrant chorus of voices daring to scrutinize the ominous and despotic overture that pervades the very atmosphere. 

With each passing moment, Barrow’s ambitions unfurl in a sinister and beguiling tango, steadily transforming The Gambia into a realm teetering on the precipice of a malevolent police state. Here, personal liberties are cruelly curtailed, the populace entwined within a labyrinthine web of surveillance, while the vibrancy of untamed expression languishes beneath the weighty yoke of authoritarian dominion. As Orwell’s “1984” ominously reminds us, the telltale signs of this metamorphosis bear an uncanny resemblance to historical red flags—warning against the insidious corrosion of self-determination in the face of the seductive allure of unchecked dominance. 

Before the curtains ascend upon the lamentable incarceration of Alhagie Bora, the oppressive spectacle of suppression takes its grim form on an alternate stage. Muhammed Dabo, once an esteemed thespian of the Kerr Fatou ensemble, was seized with all the flamboyance of a vaudevillian performance. Swiftly ushered into authority’s precincts in Banjul, he was engaged in ostensibly genial dialogue with the elite constabulary. Yet, he found himself unceremoniously consigned to the shadows of confinement—a fleeting, disconcerting reprise before his eventual release on bail. His alleged transgression? A seemingly innocuous expression on Facebook Live, bravely articulating musings about the first lady—a performance met with a chilling reprisal, echoing with the stifling reverberations of iron-clad repression. 

Regrettably, as the curtains rise, revealing a stage adorned with the compelling chronicle of an awakening clarion call, the audience—The Gambia’s citizenry—chooses reticence over unifying action. An insidious ballet unfolds, characterized by intricately choreographed footwork and a disquieting atmosphere. In this eerie performance, the chorus of complacency rings louder than the harmonious choir of resistance. As the consequences of this choice reverberate, Alhagie Bora finds himself ensnared in the very labyrinth that once confined his counterpart, Muhammed Dabo. Apprehended, confined, and unjustly muted, Bora’s audacious endeavors to dissect the multifaceted geopolitical theater that surrounds him meet discordant dissonance. These efforts are stripped of their resonant context, casting him adrift within the chilling precincts of repression. Yet, we must not discard the possibility of a capricious reprisal within this whimsical, topsy-turvy theatrical chronicle—an encore that could manifest if the first lady wields her influential clout, igniting a perplexing symphony of power dynamics.

In a domain where the currency of the realm is the cunning orchestration of self-centered interests, where the impassioned supplications of the masses scarcely elicit a tremor, the silence that envelops the atmosphere morphs into a haunting symphony—a lament that resonates with the cadence of resignation and desolation. The Gambia Press Union and opposition leaders, rather than boldly opposing suppressive and authoritarian maneuvers, contribute to an orchestrated symphony of acquiescence—a symphony thriving on the propagation of tranquility and silence. However, within this stifling silence, a steadfast cohort persists in voicing a dissonant and audacious note. This note is championed by Madi Jaborteh, unwavering and resolute, piercing the oppressive hush of compliance with unwavering tenacity. Barrow’s meticulous choreography of governance could be likened to a languorous and calculated waltz—a performance that casts an enchanting yet profoundly beguiling spell over The Gambia. This waltz, a meticulously choreographed sequence traversing the spectrum of dramatic intent, weaves an intricate tapestry. This tapestry inexorably transforms the nation, inch by inexorable inch, into a domain where the hand of the constabulary guides and manipulates every nuanced action. 

With each meticulously calculated step, the harmonious chorus of democracy dwindles into a monotonous rhythm—a cadence echoing the nation’s trajectory towards twilight within the shadows of despotism. Oh, The Gambia! Once a radiant jewel on the global stage, now ensnared in the creeping malevolence of portentous twilight. The echoes of history resound, and our nuanced performance—our delicate and calculated waltz—between dawn and dusk occupies a moment of profound import. Amidst a resurgent era of global governance awareness, The Gambia stands at a pivotal crossroads—a juncture demanding a harmonious symphony that restores rhythm, vitality, and resolute opposition to the chilling overture of authoritarian rule. Christopher Hitchens’ sagacity, meticulously woven within “1984,” offers a piercing disquisition on the precipices of unchecked authority and the erosion of individual liberties. Aswe navigate this disconcerting narrative, we must heed its resonant and potent exhortation. We must shield against the allure of autocratic governance and fiercely defend the sanctity of all denizens’ rights and freedoms. 

The Gambia, freshly emancipated from the oppressive clutches of a 22-year dictatorship, faces a pivotal juncture—one it must seize to avoid regression into the abyss of a burgeoning gendarmerie state. The calculated maneuvers of the government, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of Gambians, necessitate decisive and unwavering action. Such action must curb the ominous behemoth before it burgeons into unyielding dictatorship. The opportune moment beckons The Gambia to grasp agency and steer toward a future defined by robust democratic principles, vigorous political engagement, and the unwavering safeguarding of individual liberties. 

It is with the fervent echoes of Christopher Hitchens’ eloquence that we must counter this assault on free expression. Hitchens, a staunch defender of rationality and free thought, would surely have cast his unyielding gaze upon The Gambia’s current plight with incisive critique and passionate rhetoric. Indeed, as Hitchens articulated, “To be offended is the natural consequence of leaving one’s home. To become a refugee is the mark of a failed state.” The suppression of voices like Alhagie Bora’s jeopardizes the very essence of a thriving society. It thrusts The Gambia perilously close to the precipice of becoming a failed state, where the vibrant hum of discourse is replaced by a stifling silence. The struggle to defend Bora and the principles he embodies is not confined to The Gambia alone. It is a struggle that resonates globally, as authoritarianism rears its head in various corners of the world. From the corridors of power to the digital realms, the battle for free expression rages on, and Bora’s ordeal stands as a poignant reminder of the stakes.

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