Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Metaphorically speaking, The Gambia is like the testicles of a ram, which gyrates from side to side as the animal runs. However fast the speed of the ram, have you ever seen the testicles fall off? Or when a woman runs and holds her breasts, is it for fear that those delicate parts will fall off? It never happens. The Gambia will survive. Moreover, for three years under President Adama Barrow, they have not changed their songs. The ‘Somaliazation’ of the Gambia was on the way. On December 15, 2019, opposition leader Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP) vowed: “will make the Gambia ungovernable.”In every genuine democracy today, majority rule is both endorsed and limited by the supreme law of the constitution, which protects the rights of individuals. Tyranny by the minority over the majority is barred, but so is the tyranny of the majority against minorities. Recently the defulanization in the Gambia has become a divine obligation undergoing in the new socio-cultural context bothering on harassment and intimidation of the Fulani and other minority tribes. This would be the final death knell. However, the Gambia lives. It trudges on from day to day, month to month, and will indeed survive.
Our multiethnic democracy is 56 years old. It will survive. We will meet the central challenge of age by proving that democracy is durable and robust. Autocrats will not win the future. Hate and Tribalism are a test of whether our democracy could survive. True democracy in the Gambia is a young, fragile experiment that must be defended if it is to endure. The polity will endure.
The Gambia will survive the politics of Hate and Tribalism, and the tribes will live together in amity and brotherhood. We have been feeding on political junk since independence. We have developed all the diseases that provide hate, waste; tribal obesity, ethnic cancer, “badinyaa fassa,” identity politics, and poverty from high poverty pressure and failed policies and all the like. The people who try to offer us some nutritious politics, we have canceled and dismissed them. However, we saw more political junk in our everyday politics and daily on our screens and newspapers. Can we change our mindset?
HATRED can make a grown man cry, especially if his object of hate moves daily. Nearly all elections in multi-party in the Gambia post-1994 have been about Hate and Tribalism. Apart from the 2016 grand coalition of the cocktail of opposition parties, all other political alliances and associations, collaborations, and partnerships are formed based on which side the object of hatred chooses. The country is then zoned into ethnic strongholds on that basis.
Fatoumatta: The saber-rattling about Gambia’s unity and the possibility of disintegration has got to the point of hate and identity politics. Some people have no other business than doomsday predictions of a crumbled, collapsed Gambia as if they fast and pray for that eventuality. There cannot be development without peace. The Gambia, despite severe security challenges, is taking giant strides in development, particularly infrastructure.
After the December 4 Presidential election, the Gambia will witness the commissioning of legacy projects by the grace of God. Roads, bridges, gas projects, many others. Why then would anybody wish the Gambia’s death? That would be political foolery and trickery or stupidity. Political Tribalism at the height of the political season should stop politics of hate and Tribalism. They should begin to speak peace, rather than discord; they should start to talk about the language of God, rather than that of the accuser of the brethren. The Gambia will survive. Why do some people always dwell on the negative? They have seen nothing but harmful for decades, but the Gambia remains sturdy and steady. Yes, countries do fail, collapse, crumble, but the Gambia will survive. Let them change from malediction to benediction. It will be well with this country.
Despite all the rise of rethinking liberal multiculturalism and new debates on pluralism and inclusion and accommodation of diversity in the Gambia to the current upheavals by the actions and inactions, words, and bile, some “Tribal Mansa’s wish the Gambia disintegration. Good. However, let them put their money where their mouth is. Let those “Tribal Mansa’s” mind their thoughts and their language effects. If one does not love a person, hate will be a much stronger feeling than love.
Tanzania got its first President Julius K Nyerere from one of the smallest ethnic communities in Tanzania, the Zanaki from Butiama. This fact of him hailing from an insignificant tribe is what made ethnic mobilization irrelevant in that country. Nyerere went on to use the State to do nation-building and show that what matters is the qualities of leadership, not the ethnic language of an individual. As a result, by 1977, during the Arusha Declaration, the Tanzanian State had fully become a national socialist State.
The Gambia got its first President, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, from the biggest ethnic group, the Mandinka. This made ethnic mobilization and ethnic pride the platform and raw material for Gambian politics. Sir Dawda used the minority tribes in the nation-building project. He consolidated a One Gambia, One People, and One Destiny without a hegemony. Sir Dawda Jawara even constructed multiculturalism and a pluralistic Gambian State, a fully established multiculturalistic capitalist State.
First, Gambia needs a multiethnic citizenry and entrepreneurs centered and driven the political party to destroy hatred and tribal politics and establish a people’s movement political party for national liberation, secure our independence, economy, and needs.
The Gambia’s politics must not be premised on ethnic mobilization for politics, the tyranny of numbers, and other political ideologies, tribal arrogance, and pride called Tribalism- that this hatred and tribal politics fertilized a destructive politics.
We do not talk about policies, competence, or the quality of leaders. So why do some people always dwell on the negative? They have seen nothing but harmful for decades, but the Gambia remains sturdy and steady. Yes, countries do fail, collapse, crumble, but the Gambia will survive. So let them change from malediction to benediction. Then, it will be well with this country. Some fathers of the land will not fold their hands and see the Gambia go down.
The Gambia will survive. The polity will endure. Furthermore, the parts will live. Instead, HATRED is used to drive euphoria, and “numbers” are fortified as against the object of hate. Moreover, we equally use TRIBE & HATRED as a shield against the scrutiny of character. Elections, therefore, become seasons of ethnic bigotry, “numbers,” and HATE.
The object of HATE for the last 30 or so years has been TRIBE & HATRED. Over the previous two decades, we have been indoctrinated in HATRED. We have made politics of HATE and TRIBE the centerpiece of our national discourse. We have become less reasonable and more “die hard.” Instead of reason, we have retreated to “our tribe is being……” Furthermore, because we are so used to this HATE, we abhor anything that brings or attempts to bring Kenya together.
Fatoumatta: Our politics thrives best on balkanization. Most of our vocal politicians are famous because of being the Kings and Queens of ethnic bigotry. We have Party leaders who owe their positions because of ethnic balkanization. The Sosalasso and Taf yengal is a coalition that was built on the HATRED of one man. We ended up with a national government only in name. In practice, the government became “our” government, for those who falsely thought that they own the government by their ethnic elite being the key drivers of this administration. Those on the outside see party politics as a form of ethnic groups.
A leader kept launching “development” projects in a region of their origin. The same place is now said to have been “neglected by the predecessor government. That is what the politics of HATE does to you. It obfuscates REALITY. The object of HATE, some politicians have moved. The thing of HATE is now friendly with Adama Barrow. Therefore, a new method of venting our collective HATRED must be found. As a matter of ethnic duty, we now must HATE Adama Barrow for embracing Ousainou Darboe or Mama Kandeh, our longstanding object of HATE. For without Sosalasso politics, we do not have a place to direct our collective ethnic HATRED. So we must try as hard as possible to make Adama Barrow feel terrible for associating with our object of HATE. We must now find consolation in fancy stupidity in names such as “Tribalism .” We must also remind Gambians that the Politics of ethnic balkanization creates a never-ending sense of entitlement.
Fatoumatta: Will we kill people simply because of their ethnic identities because our “son” is not elected president? Will we seek to EXTERMINATE or INSTILL FEAR to make our voices heard? That is the politics of HATE right there. HATRED aims to destroy in the short term. HATRED does not think long-term. HATRED is shallow and narrow. HATRED does not see beyond its object of HATE. What happens if Ousainou Darboe is not on the presidential ballot on December 4?
To perpetuate a formation of HATRED, false promises are made. Any set of lies that excite the minds of those cultured in such HATRED is openly accepted. HATE causes the reason to have “evidence” for what does not exist. HATRED blinds people from seeing the TRUTH. Because we hate so much, we are unable to see good in people. HATE thrives in FALSEHOODS. We knew there were no stadiums. We knew no roads were being launched. However, our HATRED for the TRUTH and a section of other citizens kept us from embracing this sad reality.
Moreover, there is nothing more toxic than the politics of HATRED clothed in RELIGION. Everybody around you becomes a practitioner of witchcraft and Juju. However, at the same time, you and your “tribe” remain the standard-bearers for piety.
Everybody knows that we need to close ranks and coalesce together as citizens of one country. However, unfortunately, the spirit of HATRED is alive and well. We are so proud to confess that we brought “Tangal Cheeb politicians” into politics to serve as nothing more than a “face of the Gambia “flower boy.”
Fatoumatta: We must kill this HATRED. We must not oppose Adama Barrow because he is Fula or Fula or Adama Barrow for finding valid with his political arch-rival. We must judge our leaders on merit and their past and present educational record in public service and nothing more.
So that if any of the Presidential aspirants fail to become President in December, it should be because they do not have the qualities of leading our country and not because they belong to specific ethnic groups.
In the same breath, let not HATRED come in the way to keep hardworking, trustworthy sons of the Republic from ascending to the Presidency. Furthermore, in doing so, we must steer away from ethnic bigotry and toxic HATRED. We are a nation of the diversity of tribes and a nation of multiculturalism. Furthermore, no one tribe is exceptional over the other.
Some tribes are more prominent in numerical numbers. However, we must never use those numerical numbers to perpetuate a sense of false entitlement.
Fatoumatta: Any endeavor build on HATRED eventually falls when the object of HATE moves. This includes political promises made during moments of perpetuating an enterprise in HATRED. For this reason, political alliances, coalitions were meant to CRACK the moment the object of hate moved. However, nevertheless, the purveyors of HATRED will stick to their course, for they know nothing better.
Alagi Yorro Jallow