Billboards Portray Mystical Cult of Personality

Mamos Media

Alagi Yorro Jallow
Part II
Mamudu: A well-known African American rock band from New York, ‘Living Colour,’ is best remembered for its anthemic single reignited “Cult of Personality,” which won it a Grammy Award 1989. The phrase “cult of personality” was defined by Karl Marx as a country’s leader who uses mass media as billboards to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestionable flattery and praise. It is similar to general hero worship, except that it is built explicitly around political leaders.
The term “cult of personality” probably appeared in English around 1800–1850 in French and German. It had no political connotations but was instead closely related to the Romantic “cult of genius.” The political use of the phrase came first in 1877. Throughout history, monarchs and other heads of state were almost always held in enormous reverence. Through the principle of the divine right of kings, for example, rulers were said to hold office by the will of God. Ancient Egypt, Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, Thailand, and the Roman Empire are especially noted for redefining monarchs as “god-kings.”
The spread of democratic and secular ideas in Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries made it increasingly difficult for monarchs to preserve this aura. However, the subsequent development of photography, erecting giant billboards, sound recording, film, mass production, and public education and commercial advertising techniques enabled political leaders to project a positive image as never before. It was from these circumstances in the 20th century that the best-known personality cults arose. Often these cults are a form of political religion.
Mamudu: It is pretty common across Africa to find large billboards bearing photographs of the President or a political figurehead of a ‘tangal cheeb politicians’ on display on billboards in public and private areas leads to creating a cult of personality of a leader. However, displaying billboards of presidential aspirants with photo images does not benefit either the people or their leaders. This is a common practice by benevolent and malevolent dictators who want to instill fear and gain respect by force. Those leaders work towards their people to be judged as popular, vibrant, and visionary leaders.
Leadership and the cult of personality arise when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, billboards, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and sometimes worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. German Sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as “charismatic authority.” A cult of personality is like divinization, except that it is established by mass media and propaganda, usually by the state, especially in a dictatorship or sometimes in quasi-democratic states.
The cult personality transcends our borders, politics, and religious beliefs. It infects all categories – workers, peasants, herders, farmers, fisherfolk, hunters, and gatherers. It nets religious leaders, private sector captains, professionals, tragi-comically, intelligentsia, spewing pedestrian postulates—the cookery of cult personality.
Mamudu: Those tangal cheeb politicians and religious Sheiks who have unquestionably loyal subordinates, followers describe some suicidal followers, disciples, militants, party surrogates, and lieutenants (Baye fall syndrome)!Blind following without education and common sense where the leader is being led to believe that the leader is the Chosen One and see him as God’s or a Messiah. They are following even when the leader himself or herself is not intelligent enough to see where they are leading him to. Cult of personality means glorification of leaders, particularly when they enjoy fanatical support even if they gain nothing like following without any benefits.
When Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he used the presence or absence of his portrait in German homes as a control measure to communicate to the German people that no opposition would be tolerated. Looking back on recent leadership in African countries, it is not difficult to imagine a similar scene repeating itself. The absence of a portrait is used to root out even the weakest opposition in persons with political dispositions other than their leader. It is the place of a leader to work for his/ her people, not use them as a vent for her/ his vanity.
The sight of some dictator’s mug in a public area incenses people almost as much as driving along a road/street named after them. A true leader’s image resides in the hearts of his people: he does not need to shove it down their throats!
Hanging presidential portraits in public places make the President feel too powerful. It is a recipe for dictatorship. Anyway, the time of Milosevic’s type of tyranny is dying slowly, and hopefully, liberty of expression has prevailed in some parts of the African continent.
The display of a leader’s photograph in public places only serves to develop a personality cult that would degrade the spirit of democracy. The development and cultivation of a personality cult in Ethiopia is a good example. Mengistu Hailemariam was represented as being “superhuman,” which he finally started to believe himself. He was so detached from reality and the public that the cult contributed to his demise. Photographs should be displayed in public places instead of in museums and historical texts.
Like citizens of other civilized nations, Gambians only owe allegiance to the Gambian constitution the flag, not to incompetent megalomaniacs. The Gambia needs patriotism, not cultism. Maybe all those ‘presidential’ photos displayed in giant billboards in public and private places should be replaced with flags.
Photographs of the leader in public places are a sign of dictatorship, and it is an abuse of the people’s minds. Billboards raising political leaders display in public places appears to be an expression of the cult of personality. This may explain why the practice is widespread in Asian, African, and Arab countries, how a man’s image on a giant billboard reinforces the idea of national unity and electoral campaign. If anything, what it does, it creates an aura of omnipresence in the minds of the people. Either the leader is playing political smarts, or he is a genuinely dumb leader.
All these billboards typically do is bolster the vanity and insecurity of the leader. When, as frequently happens, they go beyond this and impose their features on their countrys’ banknotes (thereby unwittingly contributing even more to their depreciation), the practice becomes even more objectionable. Africa and the Gambia particularly need to put a stop to this form of a personality cult.
Mamudu: Just as it is a commonplace to find pictures of the Queen on walls in Britain, this is nothing more than a sense of belonging – and anyway, why is it that everything Africans do must be self-serving, be very selfish, egotistical, tribalism, and cronyism, etc.?
A few years ago, in the UK, during my study tour, I went around Britain but did not see a portrait of the Prime Minister on the streets of London, Oxford, or any other cities in Britain. However, it shows prestige in African cities that the President and other opposition politicians are always ready for a popularity contest.
Mamudu: In the Gambia during President Yahya Jammeh’s reign, his cult of personality was created mainly with giant roadside billboards depicting his image. Drive on both sides of the River Gambia, be it on the Southbound or Northbound roads to the Gambia’s length and breadth. There were large billboards and street light poles hanging posters of advertisements with President Yahya Jammeh’s picture in his trademark attire of all white, holding with his hands a copy of the holy Quran, prayer beads, and a sacred walking stick with an infectious, charming smile.
However, those constructed billboards in public places and on the highway, seeing these billboards, and sighting himself can do magic to a man’s ego and feeding big into his ego.
The new breed of ‘tangal cheeb politicians’ and the old guard Sosalaso politicians must question billboards’ significance as a political campaign strategy. Giant billboards bearing hero-worship leaders are a signpost for dictatorship and cult of personality. Post Yahya Jammehour, new and old guar politicians must not be encouraging a cult personality leadership. This is a dangerous game of feeding into a party leader’s ego, which they must now refrain from and not repeat.
Mamudu: When Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he used the presence or absence of his portrait in German homes as a control measure to communicate to the German people that no opposition would be tolerated. Looking back on recent leadership in African countries, it is not difficult to imagine a similar scene repeating itself. The absence of a portrait is used to root out even the weakest opposition in persons with political dispositions other than their leader. It is the place of a leader to work for his/ her people, not use them as a vent for her/ his vanity.
Mamudu: Politicians are not the most benevolent people in the world. Indeed, the political game very often involves ruthlessness, lies, and hypocrisy. Displaying ceremonial photographs of the leader in a manner of all-knowing, all-good demigods is the antithesis of what many politicians are. The Gambia has seen enough of the cult of personality and dictatorship the tangal cheeb politicians must now realize that they are not judged on how many of their pictures appear displayed on a giant billboard in public but on what they can do for their people.


Part II
Mamudu: A well-known African American rock band from New York, ‘Living Colour,’ is best remembered for its anthemic single reignited “Cult of Personality,” which won it a Grammy Award 1989. The phrase “cult of personality” was defined by Karl Marx as a country’s leader who uses mass media as billboards to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestionable flattery and praise. It is similar to general hero worship, except that it is built explicitly around political leaders.
The term “cult of personality” probably appeared in English around 1800–1850 in French and German. It had no political connotations but was instead closely related to the Romantic “cult of genius.” The political use of the phrase came first in 1877. Throughout history, monarchs and other heads of state were almost always held in enormous reverence. Through the principle of the divine right of kings, for example, rulers were said to hold office by the will of God. Ancient Egypt, Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, Thailand, and the Roman Empire are especially noted for redefining monarchs as “god-kings.”
The spread of democratic and secular ideas in Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries made it increasingly difficult for monarchs to preserve this aura. However, the subsequent development of photography, erecting giant billboards, sound recording, film, mass production, and public education and commercial advertising techniques enabled political leaders to project a positive image as never before. It was from these circumstances in the 20th century that the best-known personality cults arose. Often these cults are a form of political religion.
Mamudu: It is pretty common across Africa to find large billboards bearing photographs of the President or a political figurehead of a ‘tangal cheeb politicians’ on display on billboards in public and private areas leads to creating a cult of personality of a leader. However, displaying billboards of presidential aspirants with photo images does not benefit either the people or their leaders. This is a common practice by benevolent and malevolent dictators who want to instill fear and gain respect by force. Those leaders work towards their people to be judged as popular, vibrant, and visionary leaders.
Leadership and the cult of personality arise when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, billboards, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and sometimes worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. German Sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as “charismatic authority.” A cult of personality is like divinization, except that it is established by mass media and propaganda, usually by the state, especially in a dictatorship or sometimes in quasi-democratic states.
The cult personality transcends our borders, politics, and religious beliefs. It infects all categories – workers, peasants, herders, farmers, fisherfolk, hunters, and gatherers. It nets religious leaders, private sector captains, professionals, tragi-comically, intelligentsia, spewing pedestrian postulates—the cookery of cult personality.
Mamudu: Those tangal cheeb politicians and religious Sheiks who have unquestionably loyal subordinates, followers describe some suicidal followers, disciples, militants, party surrogates, and lieutenants (Baye fall syndrome)!Blind following without education and common sense where the leader is being led to believe that the leader is the Chosen One and see him as God’s or a Messiah. They are following even when the leader himself or herself is not intelligent enough to see where they are leading him to. Cult of personality means glorification of leaders, particularly when they enjoy fanatical support even if they gain nothing like following without any benefits.
When Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he used the presence or absence of his portrait in German homes as a control measure to communicate to the German people that no opposition would be tolerated. Looking back on recent leadership in African countries, it is not difficult to imagine a similar scene repeating itself. The absence of a portrait is used to root out even the weakest opposition in persons with political dispositions other than their leader. It is the place of a leader to work for his/ her people, not use them as a vent for her/ his vanity.
The sight of some dictator’s mug in a public area incenses people almost as much as driving along a road/street named after them. A true leader’s image resides in the hearts of his people: he does not need to shove it down their throats!
Hanging presidential portraits in public places make the President feel too powerful. It is a recipe for dictatorship. Anyway, the time of Milosevic’s type of tyranny is dying slowly, and hopefully, liberty of expression has prevailed in some parts of the African continent.
The display of a leader’s photograph in public places only serves to develop a personality cult that would degrade the spirit of democracy. The development and cultivation of a personality cult in Ethiopia is a good example. Mengistu Hailemariam was represented as being “superhuman,” which he finally started to believe himself. He was so detached from reality and the public that the cult contributed to his demise. Photographs should be displayed in public places instead of in museums and historical texts.
Like citizens of other civilized nations, Gambians only owe allegiance to the Gambian constitution the flag, not to incompetent megalomaniacs. The Gambia needs patriotism, not cultism. Maybe all those ‘presidential’ photos displayed in giant billboards in public and private places should be replaced with flags.
Photographs of the leader in public places are a sign of dictatorship, and it is an abuse of the people’s minds. Billboards raising political leaders display in public places appears to be an expression of the cult of personality. This may explain why the practice is widespread in Asian, African, and Arab countries, how a man’s image on a giant billboard reinforces the idea of national unity and electoral campaign. If anything, what it does, it creates an aura of omnipresence in the minds of the people. Either the leader is playing political smarts, or he is a genuinely dumb leader.
All these billboards typically do is bolster the vanity and insecurity of the leader. When, as frequently happens, they go beyond this and impose their features on their countrys’ banknotes (thereby unwittingly contributing even more to their depreciation), the practice becomes even more objectionable. Africa and the Gambia particularly need to put a stop to this form of a personality cult.
Mamudu: Just as it is a commonplace to find pictures of the Queen on walls in Britain, this is nothing more than a sense of belonging – and anyway, why is it that everything Africans do must be self-serving, be very selfish, egotistical, tribalism, and cronyism, etc.?
A few years ago, in the UK, during my study tour, I went around Britain but did not see a portrait of the Prime Minister on the streets of London, Oxford, or any other cities in Britain. However, it shows prestige in African cities that the President and other opposition politicians are always ready for a popularity contest.
Mamudu: In the Gambia during President Yahya Jammeh’s reign, his cult of personality was created mainly with giant roadside billboards depicting his image. Drive on both sides of the River Gambia, be it on the Southbound or Northbound roads to the Gambia’s length and breadth. There were large billboards and street light poles hanging posters of advertisements with President Yahya Jammeh’s picture in his trademark attire of all white, holding with his hands a copy of the holy Quran, prayer beads, and a sacred walking stick with an infectious, charming smile.
However, those constructed billboards in public places and on the highway, seeing these billboards, and sighting himself can do magic to a man’s ego and feeding big into his ego.
The new breed of ‘tangal cheeb politicians’ and the old guard Sosalaso politicians must question billboards’ significance as a political campaign strategy. Giant billboards bearing hero-worship leaders are a signpost for dictatorship and cult of personality. Post Yahya Jammehour, new and old guar politicians must not be encouraging a cult personality leadership. This is a dangerous game of feeding into a party leader’s ego, which they must now refrain from and not repeat.
Mamudu: When Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he used the presence or absence of his portrait in German homes as a control measure to communicate to the German people that no opposition would be tolerated. Looking back on recent leadership in African countries, it is not difficult to imagine a similar scene repeating itself. The absence of a portrait is used to root out even the weakest opposition in persons with political dispositions other than their leader. It is the place of a leader to work for his/ her people, not use them as a vent for her/ his vanity.
Mamudu: Politicians are not the most benevolent people in the world. Indeed, the political game very often involves ruthlessness, lies, and hypocrisy. Displaying ceremonial photographs of the leader in a manner of all-knowing, all-good demigods is the antithesis of what many politicians are. The Gambia has seen enough of the cult of personality and dictatorship the tangal cheeb politicians must now realize that they are not judged on how many of their pictures appear displayed on a giant billboard in public but on what they can do for their people.

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