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Review Of “The Dictator Is Us”

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By Natta Mass


If we truly have the capacity, and are willing to self-assess, this book will make us pause and give us a much needed cause for introspection.

In this book, Alagie Saidy-Barrow has placed the proverbial Big Mirror in front of all of us as a society, to look in and see ourselves for who we truly are, the self that we try to hide from. All who follow his writings on social media platforms, have come to respect him for his impartiality and straightforward frank take on our situation as a society.

In his book, The Dictator Is Us – My Truth Commission Journey, Alagie takes us on a self-reflective journey, one in which we all have cause to pause and ponder who we truly are as individuals and how we fit into the larger society, but most importantly, how we contribute to our shared misery.

The book takes a broad look at the society but within it, also captures the individuals that make up that society.

It could pass for a memoir, a narrative, and a historical account that could give sociologists much material to work with and a commentary on our political environment.
He takes you on a behind the scenes journey into the TRRC and the work they did in uncovering the atrocities of the murderous tyrant Yaya Jammeh and his henchmen, especially shedding light on the work of the Research and Investigative unit that he led, the challenges they faced, the state of mind, and sometimes the human side of some of the perpetrators, as well as the emotional toll the work took on the research and investigative team and the victims they interviewed who had to relive the trauma they faced in order to help us all uncover the truth. If you think the TRRC public hearings were probing, read the book and see for yourselves the depth of the harm and trauma caused by Yaya Jammeh’s tyranny and depravity.

You will also uncover a very familiar scenario in the bureaucratic red tape purposely designed to stall, stifle, or frustrate efforts at getting to the truth, especially in his account of attempts made to obtain material evidence from the notorious NIA.

It is a historical account that lays bare the facts surrounding the 1994 coup, the motivation, the conditions, the failures that warranted the success of the coup and the victims that followed. You will learn about the profiles of the key players and how Jammeh used every aspect of Gambian life to prop himself up in power.

He delves into the political environment with facts and the ensuing persecution of political opponents, some of whom were on the list of victims interviewed. The accounts will move you to tears and by the end of it, if you do not feel a sense of helplessness and guilt for not being able to do just a little bit more than you did, or for not doing anything at all, then no one needs more soul searching than you.

In sum, Alagie made a case for The Gambia, a country we all claim to love but a country so deprived of love that we all need to rethink on how we love what we claim to love.

In one of regular commentaries in social media, he wrote; “Our Mother Gambia suffers because while all of us claim to love her, few of us actually love Mother Gambia enough to sacrifice for her! A lot more of us love “ourselves” far more than we love our mother nation…” Ain’t that the truth!

This is a must read, but more importantly, an opportunity to rethink our values and strive to do better by each other to avoid a perpetual state of failure brought about by our own doing.

Be part of tomorrow’s book launch and grab a copy. And to you Jarranka futtabalolu, there’s no “wahaaleh” for book prices.

Congratulations Alagie! You made Badibou proud.

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