The July 22ndMovement constantly sought and obtained lucid counseling from His Excellency the Leader/Chairman on all matters relating to its programmes and activities. It was in this respect that the Movement was regarded as the de facto civilian counterpart of the military regime by serving as a vital powerhouse during the Transition Period when the heavy laden development programmes and projects were designed by the revolutionary regime for urgent attention and implementation.
The Movement had its headquarters at 12, Marina Parade in Fajara. It was from here at the level of the National Secretariat that the National Central Coordinating Committee (NCCC) designed all its classical Work plans – programmes and activities which were accordingly submitted for executive perusal, approval and urgent implementation. Members of the NCCC were relentless in the execution of their duties as was amply demonstrated by their much needed presence at all those important marathon meetings which often ended at late hours of the day or early hours of the morning. The doors of the Secretariat were never shut for any moment at any given time as militants came on a daily basis from far and near. It became literally a sanctuary, a real “casa de amistad” (friendship home) from where these highly motivated and committed militants could take solace and receive the necessary incentives needed to keep the Revolution on track in tandem with the popularised slogans of the time, ”AL LUTTA CONTINUA!! And “POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!”
The arduous task of implementing the Movement’s activities and programmes, was effectively shouldered by the teams of dedicated, loyal and highly committed then Divisional and District Coordinators in all the seven then Administrative Divisions of the country in close collaboration with all the existing Committees using the recommended bottom-top approach. The sensitization/mobilization efforts were successfully effected by these Coordinators by putting in place the recommended 7/14 man-committees respectively in all the structures nationwide. The execution of this mammoth exercise was made possible thanks to the massive logistical support that was afforded the Movement by His Excellency the Leader personally with the provision of seven (7) Mitsubishi 4×4 terrain vehicles for the seven Administrative Regions, thirty six (36) motorbikes for the then 36 Districts and hundreds of bicycles for the numerous wards throughout the country. It was in this way, that the Movement was in an excellent and unparalleled position of strength to reach out to the people in order to disseminate vital information when and wherever this was needed.
Out of all the organs that were established by the July 22ndMovement, the Youth Action Group was regarded as the most prominent and proactive. It consisted of a cadre of highly committed, loyal, diligent and dedicated young men and women who soon came to be regarded as the legendary foot soldiers of the July 22ndRevolution.They were even pejoratively called the “Bai Faals” (strict followers of the respectable Mouride Islamic sect in Senegal). No task was insurmountable for the Group given the zeal and enthusiasm that they were imbued with. These youth were omnipresent in virtually all the engagements of His Excellency the Leader/Chairman, always willing and ever ready to even serve as additional guards alongside the official security outfit. Such was the affinity, adoration and admiration they had for their Leader.
In all the major programmes of the Movement, the Youth Action Group was always in the forefront and played a pivotal role, the most notable of which were amply manifested during the 1996 Referendum exercise and the”No Election” campaign respectively when about 250,000 voter ID cards were collected for onward delivery to the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Justice in Banjul. This was to demonstrate to the outside world about the massive popular support of the Gambian electorate for the military leadership then under His Excellency Captain (Rtd) Yahya AJJ Jammeh, to continue uninterrupted and unconditionally with its visionary stewardship of this country. Another phenomenal proactive stance of the militants was again clearly manifested by their immediate and spontaneous answer to the first ever clarion “Back to the Land” call by His Excellency the Leader/Chairman of the Revolution as early as 1998. It was during this historic meeting in the Kombo East town of Kafuta that His Excellency Leader/Chairman challenged the entire nation especially the youth, to embrace the new slogan as part of the socio –economic agenda thereby replacing the already attained “Power to the People” slogan. The “Back to the Land” slogan has effectively translated and metamorphosed itself into various agricultural blueprints including the all-encompassing Vision 2016 Agenda and beyond.
The Movement’s calendar of programmes and activities for all the militants included annual summer camps coupled with periodical seminars and symposia. The militants were selected from all the Regions and given comprehensive orientation courses on the objectives and ongoing developmental trends of the Revolution, political theory, rigorous training on youth matters and other pertinent themes relating to nation building. During the course of time, the activities of the Movement started to dwindle with the advent of Party politics proper which eventually led to the founding of the Alliance for Patriotic Re-Orientation and Construction (APRC) at its maiden National Congress in 1996.The Movement closed ranks with the new born Party in order to assist the latter consolidate itself at this infancy stage on the political arena. This was clearly manifested at the level of the first Executive Committee of the Party with almost all the elected positions occupied by members emanating from the July 22ndMovement.
However, the honeymoon period between the two sister’s entities was unfortunately short lived because of internal contradictions at the level of the leadership of the Movement at that material time. These contradictions were inimical and alien to the true tenets, values and principles upon which the Movement was duly founded. Consequently, to the utter surprise, dismay and chagrin of the militants and sympathizers alike, His Excellency the Leader, President, Founder/Chief Patron of this once mighty organization, to his displeasure, had no other option but to officially dissolve the July 22ndMovement at the historic Kanilai Meeting in 1999 in the presence of all the relevant stakeholders.
The revolutionary Leadership remained more focused and ever relentless in the pursuit of effecting the all-round politico-socio-economic national development agenda. The priority areas of education, health, agriculture and infrastructural development remained the preoccupation of the Revolution as ever. This was more important especially during the short two-year Transition Period when phenomenal gains were already made in these sectors thereby absolving the leadership from the numerous nefarious attempts of detractors and prophets-of-doom to discredit the regime. The latter has on the contrary, consistently and persistently demonstrated its ability, commitment, dedication and above all, its sincerity to live up to the sacred and noble ideals of the July 22nd Revolution at all costs.
To Be Continue…
By Pa Modou Njie