Posted on December 9, 2016
If you want a cause for celebration in this most dismal and eccentric of political years, look to The Gambia, the small African nation whose attachment to its definite article has made it beloved to pub trivia teams all over the world. Over the weekend, the voters of The Gambia ousted Yahyeh Jammah, the vicious crackpot of a strongman who’d been the country’s president for 22 years, electing in his place Adama Barrow, an unassuming businessman who once worked as a security guard at a London department store.
Barrow’s candidacy was something of a surprise, as The New York Times points out. He was thrust into the position after members of his party were either arrested or died in prison this year.
The departed Mr. Jammah—who, as near as we can tell, beat feet for the border as soon as the results rolled in, but who may yet strand trial for his crimes—was a notable loon. He claimed that he could cure AIDS with prayer and some herbs. He was at the forefront of the group of African leaders who persecuted the members of their gay communities, not to mention his political enemies and inconvenient journalists. He has been on the watch list of international human rights groups for some time now, as you can see from this Times story from 2009.
There is no telling what comes next. The Gambian military is with the program for the moment, and Barrow is preparing to release political prisoners. In any case, the Gambian people behaved like the citizens of an advanced democracy should behave, and they deserve every minute of the celebration they’re having. You are indeed The Gambia. There are no Gambians like you.
And all of you smug Americans who chose not to vote this year because you didn’t “like” one or both of the candidates? You’re an embarrassment to your Constitution and the republic it established.