“If you always follow others, you can never lead” – President Yahya Jammeh

“If you always follow others, you can never lead” – President Yahya Jammeh
  • PublishedOctober 24, 2013

Q | How would the question of living in a so-called globalised world come in then, a globalised world where you have to work with partners and foreign investors to help develop the natural resources of your country?

Well, globalisation doesn’t mean we have to give away our natural resources for a song. No. And I am not saying that all companies are bad, but we have to make choices. This is where being truly independent is very important, and working with countries who have moral values, who know that this wealth belongs to Africa. We have heard many times about how China just gives to African dictators without regard to their human rights record.

I was going to come to that.

But then the same Western countries turn around and accept the same Chinese capital investment. If the Chinese should pull out their capital investments in the USA today, the American capital markets would collapse. But they think Africans are stupid. No! We are not.

The advent of China in Africa has given the Africans the latitude to choose who they want to work with. And this is a threat to the West, to their hedge funds and so forth, so they will do anything to discredit China.

Today, we also have the Gulf states, we have Asia and the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], but what is more important is to work with whoever has a conscience. I am not saying that all the Western countries are vampires, there are people and countries there who have a conscience, who have always stood up for African interests, but they are very few.  But importantly, let us take control of our countries, our resources, and then from there we will decide who we want to work with.  

Q | Another problem is the low prices that Africa gets for its resources, isn’t it?

Exactly. It’s like you having a herd of cattle, and there is only one buyer in the village who is always fixing the price, take it or leave it and if the butcher is wealthier than the owner of the herd of cattle, where he is buying the cattle from, then there is a problem, which is what is happening with African resources.

Take for example crops such as cocoa or coffee, the companies that buy coffee from Africa are wealthier than all the African coffee producing countries put together and they are buying their coffee and cocoa beans from Africa. What does it take you to turn a bean into drinkable coffee? It’s just roasting. So I spend all day working on the farm, harvesting the coffee beans, washing them, drying them, and then they come and say I will buy your coffee at so-and-so dollars, that is the world market price. So the buyers of African raw materials are always wealthier than the African producers of raw materials, and the status quo doesn’t seem to change.

Q | As I was being driven in, I saw the arch and the inscription on it says “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”. So how is the issue of gender parity in The Gambia?

This vocabulary – gender – is new. During the colonial era nobody talked about gender parity in Africa. They really thought the matter was not a factor in Africa. In The Gambia, we do not see ourselves, man or woman, as adversaries or opponents or competitors.

We don’t see ourselves as half beings that need another half to make ourselves whole. In the Gambia no decision is taken, even in the villages, without the participation and consent of the wife. That has always been there, and unfortunately today they will tell you the African woman is disenfranchised, that she is not empowered,  and has no access to land and so forth. But for The Gambia the issue of gender is not an issue, it has never been, and it will never be.

I have the longest serving vice president in the world, and she is a woman. She is not there because I wanted to please anybody. In this country one’s gender doesn’t matter, what matters is your willingness and patriotism to work for and help develop your country, it’s not a gender issue.

Q | How would you sell the Gambian story, to counter the negativity and bad press that the country and your government gets outside its borders?

I put my faith in the Almighty Allah and as long as I know that what I am doing is right, I fear nothing. I am used to this negativity from 1994 to date, but would that make me back down from my stance to defend Africa, to defend our interests and our independence? No. I will never back down. A Gambian proverb says an enemy is an enemy, and even if you dance in the water he is still going to complain that you are raising a lot of dust and making him cough.

Written By
New African

2 Commentaires

  • Let Gambian leader open democratic space in his country and not hide behind interests of Africa violated by the West.

  • Now we know that this story was paid for by the former dictator for around £80, 000.00. We were surprised by the journalistic line NewAfrica took in interviewing this demagogue of a president who siphoned off millions from poor people of our country to pull off a publicity stunt with this magazine. What a shame NewAfrica has reduced itself to!

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