By Madi Jobarteh
Tribalism is an act and a perception in which life is subjectively interpreted in terms of a particular tribe, for or against. A tribalist does not seek to objectively understand the ideas and issues that a person expresses, rather the tribalist looks only at the tribe of that person expressing him or herself. A tribalist does not engage in objective and critical analysis, rather the tribalist sees each and every issue from the point of his or her tribe. A tribalist does not recognize and understand the circumstances of the other person, rather the tribalist only sees his or her own tribe as the basis of every narrative or reality, rightly or wrongly regardless. Tribalism is disrespectful and myopic!
Tribalists are not the ordinary citizens one will find in our villages and towns; among market women and farmers or in our children. Rather you will only find tribalists among the adult, the elites and the politicians who are seeking power or holding onto a position. In order to maintain their unjust power and illegal access to resources or fame, they divert every issue into a tribalist narrative in a rather logical and rationalized manner that the ordinary folk does not easily detect. Tribalists are therefore corrupt, evil and dishonest elites and politicians. One can find tribalists in all of our political parties and the government.
Since the advent of the Coalition and the inauguration of the new government on January 19, but more especially in the past weeks and days, we have seen the fast emergence of tribalists and tribal politics from all the political parties using various social media forums to channel their diabolical ideas therefore polluting the minds of the innocent and unsuspecting masses of our people. We need to begin to expose these lazy, unthinking and dishonest surrogates, elites and politicians inside our political parties and the government. They use smart ways and sugarcoated expressions to cover up their tribal politics. But tribalism is illogical, stupid and disrespectful.
For example, any APRC person who spews tribalism such as the anti-Mandinka diatribe by Yaya Jammeh must realize that one is utterly not using one’s brain. This is because at the very beginning of the AFPRC, Yaya Jammeh did not connive with fellow Jola officers to stage the coup rather he joined Mandinka officers who made him their leader. Since 1994, the strongest pillars of the AFPRC and APRC Tyranny are first and foremost Mandinka folks. When Yaya Jammeh wanted to marry for the first time, he did not marry anyone but a Mandinka woman. Hence if Yaya Jammeh and any of his party members spew tribalism, it is clear that such a person is not only stupid but also dishonest because the reality shows that tribalism has not been the basis of the AFPRC and APRC. The very life story of Yaya Jammeh is not tribalist.
Second. If any member of the UDP spews tribalism, once again the reality shows a different fact. This is because the foundation of Ousainou Darboe’s family, i.e. both his wives are not Mandinka hence it would be silly for anyone to project Ousainou Darboe as a pro-Mandinka and anti-any-tribe politician. If a UDP member therefore perpetuates tribalism then you do not respect Ousainou, hence injure his legacy and political future. If one looks at the leadership of the UDP, it comprises of non-Mandinka folks hence no one in his or her right mind could therefore describe UDP as either pro-or-anti-Mandinka. If you do then you insult Aji Yam Secka or the late Shyngle Nyassi because it means we are saying that these people hate themselves for belonging to an anti-Wolof or anti-Jola group.
If anyone looks at PDOIS one will realize that the leadership of that party since inception has been multi-tribal and solidly unified. Halifa, Sidia and Sam Sarr do not belong to one tribe. Hence it would be dishonest to therefore propagate the idea that Halifa is anti-Mandinka or Sidia is anti-Wolof, not to even mention Sam Sarr. Unless if we think one of them or all of them are self-hating people. That is a huge insult to Halifa and Sidia and Sam.
Similarly when you go to GPDP or NRP, GDC and indeed GMC or with Dr. Isatou Touray, one will see in their camps and at personal levels that their lives are intertwined with all the tribes of the Gambia. For example Henry Gomez’s wife is a proud Mandinka woman. Isatou Touray’s closest associates are from various tribes. Hence on what basis therefore could one inject tribalism in our politics and claim that it is true and sensible?
But why is this tribal politics gaining momentum? Is it because we are still locked in the calculated narrative of Yaya Jammeh who was only interested in keeping power hence fomented this faulty idea that the Mandinka do not like him? Or is it that we just now have Yaya Jammeh-type politicians and elites who are now hell bent on maintaining their various positions within their parties and the government illegitimately hence their only lifeline is tribalism? Are these people telling us that they cannot engage in issues objectively and analytically to agree or disagree without having to resort to a tribal analysis, name calling or violence?
Gambians must wake up and refuse to be insulted by these empty-headed elites and immoral politicians who are so lazy and dishonest that they can only find relevance by vomiting our stupid narratives about tribe in every aspect of our lives. I for one feel very insulted when I hear tribal narratives. Which Gambian citizen is entirely made of only one tribe? I, Madi Jobarteh have deep, noble and proud connections to each and every tribe in the Gambia. Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Sarahuleh, Jola, Aku, Serer, Manjago, Karoninka, and the rest. If I hate any tribe, then I hate my own children, aunts, brothers, uncles, sisters, fathers, mothers and very decent friends and colleagues. Hence why would we drop so low into this tribal politics of stupidity?
Let the political leaders stop encouraging tribalism among their surrogates and supporters but to speak out openly and boldly to condemn it. Ousainou Darboe. Halifa Sallah. Sidia Jatta. Hamat Bah. Isatou Touray. Mai Ahmad Fatty. Fatoumatta Tambajang. Mama Kandeh. Henry Gomez. OJ. You are the ones allowing this tribalism to carry on. Let us hold these leaders to account to stand up and tell their supporters to stop this stupid tribalism. Let them not just say it only for them to foment it themselves privately with their surrogates and supporters. The truth is our leaders are themselves perpetuating tribalism privately in closed doors and this is why these stupid surrogates are running with it like wild fire. Let us tell our leaders to dismiss and silence their members who engage in tribal politics without delay. They know who are the tribalists in their parties because they listen and read them in social media.
For 22 years we did not have the space to freely exchange ideas. Now that we can, we must not therefore look at each and every idea from the point of the tribe of the person expressing the idea. We can disagree with a message but let that disagreement be on the merits of the issue and not on the tribe of the messenger. The fact remains that no one tribe can claim ownership of this country. No party can take power on the basis of only for or against any tribe. Tribalism cannot give anyone success. If it does then it is not because of tribalism, rather it is because of one’s dishonesty and unpatriotism.
Let us tell party surrogates and supporters to stop castigating people with whom they disagree. Everyone has a right to express his or her opinion and to take any political position they deem fit. No one should be insulted or demonized just because that person does not buy your political idea or position. Therefore let the surrogates stop insulting fellow citizens and party leaders in particular just because they hold a different position. Stand up and say no to insults against Adama Barrow, Ousainou Darboe, Halifa Sallah, Sidia Jatta, Mama Kandeh, Henry Gomez, Mai Ahmad Fatty, Hamat Bah, Isatou Touray, Fatoumatta Tambajang or OJ. Such an attitude is backward, undemocratic and indecent.
Down with Tribalism, Bigotry and Politics of Insults and Deception.
God Bless The Gambia