The Power of Words in Leadership: The Gambia’s President Adama Barrow


By: Baba S. Touray

The Author: Baba S. Touray

In leadership, words wield an immense power that can inspire loyalty, foster unity, or sow discord. A leader’s ability to measure or carefully choose their language is crucial in garnering respect from those they serve. This is particularly relevant in the political arena, where the tone and content of a leader’s discourse can significantly impact his/her reputation and effectiveness. Unfortunately, the current President of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow, serves as a cautionary tale of the consequences of unmeasured rhetoric.

A leader’s language sets the tone for their administration and influences the public’s perception of their leadership. Words can build bridges or burn them, foster dialogue or provoke conflict. Respect from both allies and opponents is often cultivated through a careful balance of assertiveness and diplomacy. Measured language demonstrates maturity, self-control, and a commitment to the greater good over personal vendettas.

President Barrow has become notorious for his unrestrained and often inflammatory remarks, especially towards political opponents. Rarely does he speak on a public platform without castigating or telling negative stories about his rivals. This approach is not only turning out the political landscape into a comedy show but is equally eroding the respect that is crucial for effective leadership. The President’s constant disparagement of opponents has significantly diminished respect from opposition politicians and their supporters. Respect is a two-way thing; leaders who fail to show respect in their discourse rarely receive it in return. Instead, the President’s approach has fostered an environment of hostility and retaliation. Each time the President makes a disparaging remark, it prompts a reply from the opposition, creating a cycle of provocation and response. This tit-for-tat dynamic has not only distracted from governance but has also escalated tensions within the country. The President’s rhetoric has often been followed by arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions of those who dare to respond to his provocations. This pattern of repression undermines democratic principles.

Effective leadership requires the establishment of clear boundaries and a commitment to measured speech. The President should set a good example by promoting constructive dialogue, demonstrating respect for political opponents, focusing on policy discussions rather than personal attacks, and above whole be a the leader that will unify his people. Political platforms should be use to promote constructive dialogue to elevate the political discourse but also fosters a more cooperative and productive political environment rather than engage in personal attacks. Demonstrating respect for political opponents is crucial as it signals a leader’s commitment to democratic values and can help build a foundation for democracy and national unity. It is incumbent upon a President to focus on policy discussions rather than personal attacks, which can lead to more substantive debates that address the real issues facing the country. By exhibiting restraint and respect in your language, a leader sets a positive example for others to follow.

President Adama Barrow’s approach to political discourse serves as a stark reminder of the importance of measured speech in leadership. Unrestrained and inflammatory rhetoric continue to erode public respect, incite conflict, and suppress dissent, undermining the very foundations of effective governance.
After what the country went through in 22 years of Jammeh’s presidency, her people deserve a leader who who will promote constructive dialogue, respect opponents, and focus on policies rather than personal attacks to foster a more respectful and cooperative political environment.

On a final note, I want to remind his sympathisers and those who downplay his actions that the power of words in leadership cannot be underestimated, and those who wield it wisely are more likely to earn the respect and support of those they serve. For The Gambia Our Homeland!


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