By Jamal Drammeh
In the past; half of the world don’t even know how the other half lives. People in different areas of the world used to live so distinctively that they can hardly be classified into the same race. But today, technology has transformed our world into a global village. This makes every action or utterance far more consequential because of the speed by which it can reverberate at the other end of the world.
The advent of the railways took out all obstructions on the passage of trains – leaving nothing to conquer but the clear passage of its travels. Then the advent of the aircraft took out all the obstructions of the land and the high seas – leaving nothing else to conquer but pure space. But with technology and telecommunication, we transcend the space of this whole sphere – making our voice to be heard at every moment, from even the most remote parts of our planet. With that comes the responsibility for its proper use.
Who I’m I to advocate for prudence in our discourse, when this remains a direction at which I have so much work to do on myself. Yet I love facts even if it’s against my interest and hate lubricity and the farcical commentaries that passes for wisdom and truth in our discourse. Plus I’m not so fun of vain men that worship other morals like themselves, egotistical to their own whims, but condescending to those that dare to see things differently.
I write from aspirations, antagonism, observation, and very well from experience. At times, painting and writing of qualities I do not yet possess but aspires to possess, and challenging the reader to dream and aspire to a new and greater possibility for oneself.
Shakespeare told us to “assume virtue if you have not”…. because, he understands that the essential nature of man is good and virtuous, giving us every right to lay claims to virtue even before we can properly personify it. So I scrapped that Marxian notion that assumes that man is essentially evil. Man is essentially good, but sometimes have to be shaken up to bring forth our virtues. We can rightfully admire a quality or assume a virtue we have not yet possessed.
Even where we fall short, at every moment of the vicissitudes of life, we shall still communicate our whole ‘meat and bones’, and not the ‘shell’. So yes, I will write to these subjects as if it they are the breath in my lungs. Speaking against these dark elements in our social discourse like an Emmanuel Swedenborg, I shall – though I claim not his illumination or the wisdom illuminate. But, I shall do so from a point of perception and not with cheap opinions or base estimates. perception in a true sense – is the impression of the soul, and when communicated, it becomes the sensual side of the soul’s expressions. Even where it is wrong, it is still noble, because it comes from a positive degree and with sincerity.
Opinions are the base mendicants of our political discourse, and the foolish disguise in our social intercourse and the cheap cover for political posture. What a person projects but is not genuine, or doesn’t even truly understand, is only an extemporaneous half possession. We are becoming the guardians of such possessions with the free flow of ideas in the Internet. Every benefit we gain, a tax is levied; so the beauty of the Internet has a price also. It gives us innumerable half-truths and alternative realities at lightening speed. So in politics, we equally infect each other with these half possessions and alternative realities at lightening speed. We go about parroting on serious subjects without proper examination of context or any serious thought because we saw our friends did.
We go out of way to decry a thing by epitomizing the very thing we seek to so strongly condemn. We condemn hate speech with our own form of hate speech. We find ways to negatively classify anyone we have disagreements with; forgetting that we cannot throw dirt and our hands to still remain clean. We employ mean motives to classify our opponents with base estimates stemming from our own bigotry or ignorance that we are not even aware of.
How can you enlighten a group by tacitly condemning them as tribalists or ignorant or “unconscious”?
Why do we keep categorizing UDP as a Mandinka party when we know full well that both their leadership and rank and file constitute all the different tribes in The Gambia?
Why do we keep categorizing PDOIS as a Wolof party when we know full well that both their leadership and rank and file constitute all the different tribes as well?
The same is true for every other political party in The Gambia!
Naturally, there is closer affinity between people with more superficial commonalities – whether that has to do with economic status, origin, identity or some other common interests. This is a common phenomenon in every country, society, and in every sphere of our existence. Our special affinities will always create some disproportion in our every setting – political or otherwise. This is true in America and equally true in The Gambia. But if these disproportions are driven by those superficialities, is there anything inherently bad in that?
What is wrong with people being drawn more easily to groups they have greater natural affinity with or identify with better?
Even if you find something wrong with that idea, would it not be better to use tact and gentleness to win them over than with condescending attitude towards them?
Would insults, arrogance and condemnation help you win over anyone?
And last; why do we continue to do this deification of certain individuals in our political discourse as if they’re the only men with brain, or God himself brought them down to save us from ourselves?
Our days yield for us no Mandelas or Thomas Paignes or Lumumbas or Castros or Krummahs – even if we seek to super impose their images on our new icons. It is vain to try to make them who they’re not.
However, many of these men and women we celebrate today are great and noble in their own respect, but not because of our mechanical imposition and belligerence. We don’t need to go about skulking like interlopers in the Internet with cumbersome arguments as if the politicians we favor are some divine beings and beyond reproach.
Foolish people think that a Halifa or a Darboe can never utter nonsense. If they said something dumb, it is quickly rationalized to seem like something profound and intelligent by their cultist and political vanguards. They would stand to support their every utterance simply because it is theirs. These fanatical supporters feel obliged to defend every last verbiage of the politician they support with their own last breath.
Instead of truth, we make the defense of personalities as a solemn obligation. How much breaths will our best minds continue to waste on escapades in defense of particular politicians instead of honest erudition?
In our attacks on opposition, we label them with the very mark on our own foreheads. If we are obsessed with our tribe, we will only see tribalism everywhere around us. We guile our own sickness by labeling others as the “real tribalists”. But if you are a tribalist, no amount of cunning and linguistics super navigation can hide the venom you store in your breast. Most will not call you out and not all can sufficiently articulate their disgust for the ‘bile’ they see in you, but they can sense it very well. No metamorphosis can hide a filthy rogue from the world. You can call opponents out with every name you wish, but they can all see through you and can clearly read the mark on your own forehead.
The condescending nonsense we try to spew out with polite pretense will always be seen for what it is – by each one of the ‘village idiots’ we might label as ‘unconscious’.
Leave these echo chambers that sought to freeze your brain and implore you to walk the permitted lines. Examine what is said, and not obsessing over who the speaker is before you can use your brain. Simply do what you can, and attempt nothing beyond your practical force with false pretense. Our parroting of silly opinions of others without reflection is dangerous. Pretending as if those are our own ideas is a disease of the mind. It is poisonous to the elevation of any serious conversation.
I have only one point to make in this whole essay. Gambia is one nation and one people. More importantly, humanity is one. Let’s stop the nonsense of tribal politics!