by Alagi Yorro Jallow
When has the Gambia changed? What has happened to our values; our virtues; respect for ourselves and elders;( “Ngorr, Joom and Koleeray”): Politics always divides us as a people. But we’re greater than our politics. We’re One people and One nation. That’s what we are and that’s how we should move forward for new Gambia.
Gambians can no longer be divided about certain fundamental issues. It was said that “a person’s behavior is a function of the environment which surrounds and influences them.”
Section of Gambians have allowed the environment of the Gambia to decay. It has become confused, filled with mixed messages, misunderstanding, loss of reliability, unpredictability, and confusion.
This is the environment which we allowed to be created for our beloved children and their future.
Why has this happened, and, continuing without an indication of positive change?
I think – I fervently hope – that these tactics and the whole strategy of hate and contempt will fail over time. Our history argues that, in the Gambia, the pendulum almost invariably swings back to common sense and tolerance after the fever breaks. But in the meantime, much damage has been done. In the present case, lives have already been broken. Anxiety and unease—and yes, downright hatred—seep through if not sweep over so many.
But as I’ve said before, and I believe it bears repeating: Tribal politics breeds contempt and hate. Sadder still, it’s going on anyhow.
The Gambia has forever changed and changing. In a matter of time Gambians helped one another. We cared for one another. We comforted one another. We became united over a common enemy (“Kang Killing” and “Yerr Maandeeh”). The flag was flown from nearly every home, business from and car. The national anthem was a source of pride. Police officers and Field force were our heroes and now, we not, we are suspicious of each other. Our motto became, the national anthem:
“For the Gambia, our homeland
We strive and work and pray,
That all may live in unity,
Freedom and peace each day.
Let justice guide our actions
Towards the common good,
And join our diverse peoples
To prove man’s brotherhood”.
In July 1994 and later, we became more divided than ever. We don’t even know who enemies are, who are foreigners and who are Gambians. Tribalism, bigotry, hypocrisy, (“Hasidiya”,” Wakk Buseew”,” Garuwalleh”) and misogyny have become common. The flag is disrespected, and elders blackmailed. The national anthem became offensively dishonored. “Hasidiya” and hate politics became the order of the day. Our country has fallen by our own hands and continues to be dragged into disunity and fighting amongst ourselves.
The level of hatred being displayed especially on social media is unprecedented. In the past, out of self-respect or shame, some people would hide behind pseudonyms when they succumbed to pressure of publishing what they clearly knew was unacceptable. But alas! Today there is no sense of guilt or shame. Both young and old, male and female are freely posting hate messages and insulting one another openly.
Tribal fights and comments have become a daily occurrence. What was a taboo is slowly becoming a norm? This is a big shame! This is not who we are. This must stop!
Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. If we allow the status quo, each day that passes, the Gambia will become more divided, the Gambia has become more tribal (I hate to admit it but we can’t be in denial forever – it’s clearly out there). It’s on the streets, in politics, at work places and slowly entering the mosques and churches. Unfortunately, even political, religious and community leaders from all walks of life speak unresponsively. This must stop!!!
There is so much pettiness, bickering and tearing of each other apart on social media. What has happened to One Gambia One People and One Nation. What is the future of our children if we continue to tear each other apart.
Each one of us may have strong opinions. We may have different views. We may disagree to agree, that is okay. But we should never allow ourselves to be divided. How will we condemn misogyny, tribalism, hate and contempt? Brothers and Sisters, these things start slowly. We may take this lightly. Every Gambian should be concerned on what is slowly developing into a national catastrophe.
This calls for serious reflection and action from all of us. Some of the postings on social media including pages which were sound and balanced have unfortunately fallen to this degradation. Let us resist the temptation and repent from our sin. There are better ways of resolving issues.