Q | On the issue of good governance, your political opponents and the Western media say you are a dictator and you abuse human rights including homosexual rights. Why should they say otherwise?
Oh yes, I am a dictator of development, a dictator of progress, and a dictator that will not be dictated to by outsiders. But in The Gambia I am a servant of the people. We have come a long way, we still have a long way to go, but we have depended only on God and other countries that recognise that we are human beings and that we are an independent and sovereign country.
And we shall not accept any British person telling us what to do, or that homosexuality is a human right and therefore we should legalise it here in The Gambia. Well, if they want their countries to be led by homosexuals, that is their business, but not in The Gambia. So if they think it is right, let them practise it there, but not here in The Gambia, do you understand?
On governance, when did Africans participate in elections in the colonial era? It seems the idea of human rights, freedom and good governance never applied to their colonial subjects.
Q | Your stance is sure to affect the level of international funding you get, do you realise that?
What funding? Now show me one African country that has developed today thanks to the West, tell me.
About 99% of the infrastructural projects here have been built from our own national resources. Yes, we have built this infrastructure. We have built this country from the Stone Age. If you look at The Gambia divided into two by the River Gambia, the north bank of the river never had a highway until we came into office. Today the north bank has the best highway in the country. Let me tell you one thing, but I don’t know whether I should tell you this.
Q | Yes please, do.
You know that 75% of rural Gambia is electrified, and 90% of rural Gambia has potable water. No, they will not want the world to hear about that.
Q | But why so? You are increasingly accused of human rights violations, being homophobic, and executing political opponents and journalists. We hear more about these things, not about potable water and the electrification of rural Gambia. We know bad news sells, but how do you react to such strong sentiments?
Nobody is saying anything about the Gambian people who were murdered by the murderers we executed. Now if they have abolished the death penalty [in the West], that doesn’t mean that they should impose it on The Gambia or the developing world. They hanged people right here in Africa during the colonial era.
Do you know that you will never read any history of Africa where the kings ordered somebody to be hanged. The idea of the death penalty by hanging was brought to Africa by the colonialists.
Before colonialism, offenders paid in kind, there wasn’t anything like policing. The only time somebody was killed was when different kingdoms fought against each other. The idea of policing and prison was non-existent here in Africa.
Now the colonialists who brought the harsh prison regimes want to lecture us about human rights.
What could be more cruel than capturing Africans, packing them like sardines in a boat, like cargo, and taking them for auctioning in America, and then letting them live like dogs while working under harsh conditions for the white man, for hundreds of years! And at the end of it all, Africa does not get as much as an apology for the inhumanity and suffering and the sheer trauma imposed on us by the USA and the European slaving nations. After looting the whole continent and killing so many people [they] still fail to give any apology whatsoever! How can they be teachers of democracy and human rights to Africa?
But they will argue that, that was a long time ago. It was their ancestors who did it, not the current generation.
Q | Looking ahead, in the next five years, what can Gambians expect, as there is still a lot to do and achieve in terms of development in this country?
Five years is a long time, in The Gambia we see changes, positive changes, every three months. So I will tell you that if you come back to The Gambia in one year’s time, you will see something different, you will see more advancement. In the next five years we want The Gambia to be one of the leading economies in the entire world, not only in Africa. Yes, in five years we want to see a Gambia where only the most extreme medical conditions are sent abroad for treatment, where the literacy rate has improved tremendously, where we have more university students, where education is free.