After the Eid-ul-Fitr feast, I wrote using this and other media to express the hope and potentials we have in our society. Our culture of being one people, one nation, and one Gambia expressed through the jovial relationships we have between tribes, ethnic groups, regional groups and even clans is a great recipe for peace and progress.
Today, we witnessed another aspect of this communalism when women in the ‘Kombo Tubab Bankoo’, or urban area if you like, desired to get rid of the huge piles of waste in our markets and streets and they were joined by many of the menfolk. Indeed this is worth celebrating and we need to commend our womenfolk.
What do we Learn from this Set-Setal?
It is said that cleanliness is next to godliness. In fact there is no godliness without cleanliness. Every religion stresses on cleanliness and if someone is desirous of being godly, most certainly such a person should be clean both physically and spiritually. Well we know that the outward appearance of a person affects his or her inner feelings. A clean person could therefore be said to be pure inwardly as well.
This makes cleanliness extremely important therefore. This cleanliness however, does not only have to be in the pefact but also the environment. A clean person cannot live in a dirty environment. We can see therefore that keeping our surroundings clean is of absolute necessity.
Who is responsible?
Primarily, we [the people] are responsible for the cleanliness of our bodies and our environment. If each one of us takes it upon him/herself to ensure that you and your surroundings are clean then the waste and rubbish can be at various locations for further discarding by the right authorities. It is here that the role of the government [through the municipalities] comes in.
It is the responsibility of the municipalities to ensure that the waste is collected periodically and disposed of properly keeping in mind the hygiene and health of the people. For this reason, we pay tax to the local government/municipalities. They collect this money to ensure that our waste is collected and disposed of. But because for the past 22 years we had a dictatorship and a repressive government that did not care much about the people, that money was politicized and used for other things. As such, the work for which the taxes were meant was not – could not – be done. Today, we are all facing the consequences.
The Kankfing Municipal Council under the leadership of Mayor Yankuba Colley wasted out resources on politics and some other nonessential ventures and now, we all have to suffer for it. This has to change. We need to start taking responsibility and doing what we are supposed to do.
I wrote once that a man once thought that I was a fool because he saw me carrying an empty can drink for a long distance. He asked why I didn’t just throw it away? I replied that I couldn’t because there was no dustbin around. He said I should throw it away anyway because everyone does it.
This is our problem. Many people do something so we also do it even if it is wrong. If we don’t stop that behavior, progress will be difficult.
We have to make a conscious, concerted effort to ensure a change in attitude. We didn’t only vote for a change of the name of our president, we voted for a system change which has to be all-pervasive. Everything has to change for us to register the progress we are yearning for.
It seems our womenfolk want to lead that change! That is a good thing. I salute you, O women of the Gambia!