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February 21, 2019

What I hope we learned this year

What a year it has been!
What a year it has been!

It’s that time of the year when some of us review the things we have learnt in the past 12 months. The things we now know about ourselves or others, things we always suspected and events and situations that took us by surprise.

As a journalist with general interests but a penchant for things political, I reconfirmed my belief that the electorate can almost always be trusted to do the opposite of what most pollsters and social media types expect.

Look at how the vote went in Britain over leaving the European Union. It was always going to be a close run, but like the Monty Python skit about the Spanish inquisition, few of the Twitterati (for instance) expected Brexit.

It made me doubt some people's intellectual capacity the fact that once the votes were tallied and it was clear most Brits wanted to quit their complicated relationship with Europe, many confessed that they had voted to leave but hadn’t thought their votes would count.

Then there was the US election that again took a lot of observers by surprise. For whatever reason, nobody thought that an electorate brought up by TV would vote for the cartoonish show host over the tried-and-tested political types in his own party or the nominee of the incumbent’s party.

Hindsight as always is 20/20 and after the election, some people thought the Democrats should have picked Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton as with his appeal to the man in the street, he would have prevented more of the unhappy and unsatisfied voters from going over to the Republicans, even though he wasn’t attracting the big money that Hillary could swing.

More recently and closer to home, we had the Gambian elections, where an opposition coalition unseated the much reviled incumbent, who had been in power for 22 years and had showed no signs of quitting. In a shockingly free and fair election, the voters threw out the dictator Yayah Jammeh, and elected Adamah Barrow.

What opposition parties all over the continent have hopefully now learned is that you don’t make promises to jail the outgoing president before you are fully in control of the levers of power.

If there is trouble in Gambia, because Jammeh who at first seemed happy to hand over power now wants to hang on to it, I think we can blame Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, a senior politician, chair and architect of Gambia’s new ruling coalition and often described in the Gambian media as “mother of the nation".

In the euphoria of success, she spoke out, saying  there was no question of immunity for Jammeh, who was still sitting in State House and still controls the armed forces. 

Even Trump won’t talk about arresting Hillary until after he is sitting in the Oval Office on January 20.

After all, Clinton’s buddies are still in charge and who knows what they could do?

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