I am growing interested in the way narratives, and means of conveying morality in political rhetoric crosses borders. I am no scholar in this field, but I am beginning to find similar lines of thought in political messaging both here in the US, and among other political leaders in the Third World. President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia said last Thursday that homosexuals, thieves and drug dealers must leave the country in 24 hours. He went on to say that “Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful. We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not and shall never accept such individuals in this country.”
According to Behind The Mask, homosexuality in Gambia is covered under a law that makes an offense of anyone who
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or
(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature;
and is punishable by 14 years in prison. In fact, according to Behind the Mask, in 1999 the Prez used the old there’s no queers in the animal kingdom logic by noting that “among my animals there are no lesbians, no gays or whatever. They do everything as nature ordered.”
What’s interesting about his telling the queers and the other undesirables to “call Tyrone” is that he seemed to be equating such acts of immorality with immigrants to Gambia, and blamed Gambian youth for not taking advantage of the opportunities the immigrants are, stating that “all stores belonging to Gambians and rented to foreigners would be seized. We are tired of investing for only foreigners to the benefits. Today, look at the NYSS [National Youth Service Scheme] as compared to when it was newly created; Gambians have ran away from it and we provide a number of young people people for skilled training. This means that Gambians are difficult to help.”
Jammeh was equating the loss of the moral compass in Gambia with immigrants (whom from what I can tell come from neighboring countries like Senegal and Sierra Leone), and that Gambian youth don’t take advantage of the opportunities they are given. Sound familiar? To me, this sounds like a cross between right wing anti-immigration rhetoric and neo-liberal racial uplift politics in America. Is this simply an accident, or is there some possible link between these narratives that are crossing borders?
Jammeh has lived and “studied” in the US. While the Prez is calling for the end of all this outside influence, looking at his resume from the Gambia’s official government website, he was trained right here in the good ole USofA. Under the category “Overseas Training,” the only listing is
September 1993 – January 1994
Attended Military Police Officers Basic Course (MPOBC) at Port McClellan, Alabama, USA.
Obtained a Diploma in Military Science (Military Operations).
Yes. He received additional military training by the US Military. Not that he was in any need of it. If you read the rest of his resume, other than being President, the man has done nothing else but serve in the military.
As a matter of fact, Reporters Without Borders has accused “President Yahya Jammeh’s police state” of using murder, arson, unlawful arrest and death threats against journalists.