How important are you?

By Aicha

Are you willing to listen for advice or do you find your own opinion more valuable than others?
I ask myself this question from time to time. Not because I doubt myself but because it is good for the mind to take one step back and consider one’s decisions and opinions.
As I grew up I was surrounded by people who were very sure of themselves and their opinions and / or decisions could never be questioned.
It was more a matter of prestige than wisdom and many times this could cause trouble.
A person who is so filled with his / her prestige is never willing to listen to others and can by that make a lot of mistakes.

The problem gets wider because this person is never willing to take the blame for these mistakes, instead there is always someone else to blame – someone below them.
This high and mighty person can be your boss, your parents or someone else who is above you on the social ladder and who you often depend on for your living.
It is a parent you can be able to take the discussion but the situation is worse if it is your boss.
We have laws and regulations considering labour, here in Sweden, but even here problems can appear that are hard to deal with.

Even if a boss can’t sack an employee as easily as it can be done in the Gambia this boss can cause a lot of problems for the employee and by that more or less force this one to quit the job.
Unfortunately we have this problem right now at a school in my town.
This school was a great place to be working in but things have changed since one of the headmasters got another job and the other got retired.
The school has two new headmasters now and as the saying goes: ”New brooms sweep the best.”
These two new ”brooms” seem to be eager to sweep the employees out in their ardor to arrange things as they wish them to be.

The problem is that the employees are not rubbish laying on the floor, they are instead highly educated and ambitious teachers who only wish to do their best – but this best will never be good enough in the headmasters eyes.
Coming as a new person to a job is a challenge and requires humility.
It will always take a while to get to know the others, no matter if it is your collegues or your employees.
Every working place has its own athmosphere and it will take a while to get used to it.
Coming new means that you must read the signals, listen and learn instead of being too eager and maybe making unecessary mistakes.

It doesn’t matter how important your position is or you believe that you are – you must be attentive and get to know the people that surround you.
First you must make them trust that you are doing a good job and then slowly, slowly you can begin to make some changes.
Most people fear changes so these must be implemented in people’s minds before you can go through with them.

As I have followed the news from the Gambia I have noticed that a lot of people are still longing for changes.
There are a ot of expectations on the government and sometimes we might expect miracles.
The economical situation in the Gambia is no news for anyone but the question is: what can we do that doesn’t cost a lot of money?
Are those who are in position to rule the country interested in listening to all of us who have a lot of knowledge and solutions?
Do they feel that their prestige is more important than working together with building a democracy in the country we all love?
Do you have a position because you get a rush by the power you have or are you willing to serve your country?
The promises you gave before you got elected; are they still valid or were they only imaginary?
Do you really wish to serve your country or is your aim to serve yourself on others account?
It is necessary to sometimes do as I try to do – take a step back and ask yourself: How important are you?
Are you willing to listen to other’s advice and / or opinions?
If not maybe you shouldn’t have the position you have because then you are not truly interested in making the Gambia a better place to live in.

We all depend on each other, all of us are as important.
No one is more important than someone else, we are only different and have different positions in life.
I have friends that are working with maintaining, cleaners, librarians, teachers, politicians, activists, priests, cooks etc.
All of us are as important as the other and I know for example that my working place would look like a mess if we didn’t have the cleaners there every day.
Some people are more educated than others but that doesn’t tell anything about their value.
Some of us have learned a lot in ”the school of life”, many of these skills are practical and some of the people who know these skills are genious.

My best friend has built up a successfull company with his own two hands and now he has his own business with a lot of customers which I’m very proud of.
My friend is a wise man who has his goal in life but he has always been listening to others and learned a lot from them.
When you listen to others it doesn’t mean that you have to change your mind and do as they say instead.
No, it only means that sometimes it can be good to get some resistance because then you need to consider your matters more and maybe find even better solutions than you thought at first.
No one is able to always find all the best solutions and being aware of exactly every single detail.
If you speak to someone you trust you might get help to look at things from a different angle and go deeper than you believed from the beginning.

Prestige should never come in your way and become like a shield between you and others.
If you strive to be on the top and not allow anyone to keep you company you will become very lonely one day.
If you don’t listen to others they will not listen to you.
They might pretend that they are listening, if they depend on you, but they will not be loyal to you.
You try to appear strong and unreachable but you will not get any help or assistance the day you get weak, and we will all face that day.

I want to go back to our government and the expectations we have on them.
Times are hard, the treasure chests were empty after that crazy despot Yahya Jammeh fled the country.
What I wonder is if those who found out that there was no money left are still in shock and that their brains are numbed?
This is a normal reaction in times of shock; the brain switches off to protect itself and only allows the mind to let in small amounts of information at the time.

You might have experienced that when you have lost someone you love and it takes some time before you realize that you will never meet this person again.
In the beginning you can even be in doubt of what you have seen or heard but after a while you begin to realize the hard facts and you learn to deal with them.
We still grieve the loss of all the wealth Yahya Jammeh stole but it has gone a long time now since we realized that and the shock must have left us now.
We can’t be waiting patiently for the treasure chests to be filled again, we need to be smart and find solutions to our own and not depend on foreign aid.

There is a Think Tank in the Gambia.
What have we heard from them since the festive initiation of it?
I’m sure ( or I hope ) they are busy, but what are they doing?
Does anyone know?
Was it only a great show, a presentation of people who are included in this Think Tank and then they went back to……………what?
We could have Think Tanks in every town and every village with discussion groups that has an agenda for every meeting and the results could be presented for the politicians.
These inofficial Think Tanks wouldn’t cost anything but the Gambia would gain a lot from them.
In a democracy you allow people to speak up, you listen to them and take their opinions under consideration.
The youths of the Gambia are not prepared to to wait until five years has gone and we have a new government.

They will not be that young anymore, after five years, but they will still be as poor and unemployed.
There is such a great capacity among the youths but they will not speak up if they feel that no one is listening.
Can we afford more young people to flee the Gambia?
This time they will not flee oppression but they wish to have a better future in their motherland and they don’t see the results they had voted for.

We can’t expect people to be patient when they feel that they have too little hope for the future.
What we need in the Gambia are politicians that are willing to listen to others but themselves.
We need intellectuals who are able to look at all the areas that need to be revived and find a strategy for that work
We need better schools and a modernized education system.
We need better roads that are drained so we can build up a strong and functioning infrastructure.
We need to become independent in the agriculture area so the food prices get lower.
We need to extend the tourism season so the Gambia will have more income.
Right now the season is far too short and it could easily be extended to seven months at least.
The landing fees must be lowered so more travel agencies will be interested in arranging tours to the Gambia.
I know I have mentioned some of these topics before, in my article about tourism, but they need to be repeated.

We need to make an inventory of all the human resources we have in the Gambia, find our strengths and highlight them.
We can’t be waiting for some foreigners to ”save us”, we need to save ourselves.
I’m sure that if people from the government would travel around in the Gambia and speak to common people they would get a lot of good ideas.
Poor people need to be creative and that creativity can and must be used in building up the Gambia from scratch.

What we need is to be listening to each other, be interested in each others opinions, have an open mind and be willing to change our point of view if we find that someone has taught us something useful we haven’t been considering before.
Using the brain doesn’t cost us anything, God created us with brains and asked us to use them.
Be your own Think Tank, make small changes in your own life and be like a small wave that together with others will become an ocean of ideas.
Don’t be afraid of being considered as different because ”only dead fish follow the stream.”

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