Sunday, 4 December 2016

From Argos Security Guard To A New Country Leader

Adama Barrow

This is a story of a former security guard who is about to become a president in his native country.

Adama Barrow will soon move into The Gambia’s presidential palace, an opulent white building in Banjul.

He will take the country’s highest office after trouncing the current leader, Yahya Jammeh, who had been in power for more than two decades, making headlines around the world.

But he hasn’t always been in such a commanding position.

He once worked as a security guard in a branch of Argos on Holloway Road, North London.

Instead of deciding his country’s foreign policy and honouring state guests, he was tasked with keeping an eye on shoplifters and diffusing any awkward situations with customers pushing to get their order first.

On one occasion, he tackled a thief who was jailed for six months.

Mr Barrow, who lived on an estate in London between 1998 and 2002, studied property management before moving back to the small West African country to start a successful estate agent business.

Adama Barrow

But his past was used against him by opposition politicians.

Sheriff Bojang, the country’s information minister, mocked him at a rally: ‘We have heard that Mr Barrow worked as a security guard in … what is it… this shop called Argos in Britain?’

But Mr Barrow, 51, said working in lower level jobs including at a festival, offices and other high street stores had given him a better grounding.

‘My time in Britain taught me the importance of working hard and good time-keeping, and both those things helped me a lot when I went back home,’ he said.

His victory comes as a massive shock, with the incumbent even boasting that he would rule the country for a ‘billion years’.

Mr Barrow, who led a coalition against him, received 263,515 votes compared to Mr Jammeh’s 212,099.

Mr Jammeh came to power in 1994 years ago after he seized control in a coup.

In the two decades since, he has won a series of elections that were denounced by critics as rigged.

This time, he had claimed that his victory was all but assured by Allah, but is expected to concede defeat peacefully.

Mr Barrow said on voting day that he strongly believed Gambians were ready for change, adding: ‘He is not going to be re-elected – his era is finished.’



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