Politics is boring!

By Aicha

Did I make you jump a little because maybe you have noticed that I’m interested in politics?
That’s right, I am interested but as I’m not yet a Gambian citizen I’m not allowed to vote in the election and even if I would have that right, I wouldn’t know which party to vote for.
It is very important to use our democratical rights to vote, as you could see in December 1 last year .
Suddenly politics wasn’t boring and useless, as you might have thought before, because you could see that your vote made a change.

I deliberately wrote “Politics is boring” as a headline because that is what so many feel when they don’t see the use of it – that politics is actually about everything in your life.
When I was younger I was very active in one of the political parties in Sweden.
I attended meetings, spoke up when I had something important to say and I even held a speech once at a large political gathering that we used to hold once a year, where representatives from the whole country gathered.

I was so nervous at that time so I was shivering like a leaf in the wind.
When I returned to my seat, after my speech , one of the older ladies in my party began to complain about me and my way of speaking.
I admit that I wasn’t so experienced in the political game but we live in a democracy and everyone has the right to speak out their opinion .
This critizism really belittled me at that time and even if I had more to say I wouldn’t dare to do it anymore.
This is more than 20 years ago but still I remember the feeling and my sadness.
I wonder why this old lady was so critical
Was she envious that I was a young, passionate woman who wasn’t afraid to enter the podium ?
Was I so wrong, did I make too many mistakes when I spoke or what made this old lady press me down like that?
The problem, in the party I belonged to at that time, was that most of the members were very much older than I.

I was 33 at that time and some of the ladies were twice my age.
This gathering was for women only and for some reason we kept our gatherings separated so the men had their own gatherings.
Being 33 is not that young but in the eyes of someone who is more than 60 I must have appeared as a child.
I was already a mother of two sons and was pregnant with my third child, a daughter.
I had a lot of experience and opinions but it was hard to be heard because the elder members thought that the young ones should be waiting for their turn.
This is a very old fashioned way of thinking and I have noticed that this still exists.
This is depressing younger peoples minds and is making them feel that their opinions doesn’t have the same value as the elders.

I’m sure that you, dear reader, have experienced the same as I have.
You have been considered as too young and by that you should remain quiet and let the elderly do the talking.
The youths of the Gambia voted for a change and they are still waiting.
A part of being young is to be impatient, not having the ability to wait a long time before something is happening or changing, that is both good and bad depending on the context.
Some procedures can take a long time before they are carried out but others might only need a kick in the butt to be able to go through with.

As older people have their ways and their habits they feel that young people should learn to slow down and wait until it is time for a change.
The problem is that this “time for change” seems to get postponed over and over again and that can be really frustrating.
Even if I’m 55 years of age I still have problems to be patient.
I might have learned a little through the years but I think of myself as belonging to the “butt-kickers” who are telling others to get on instead of making decisions in the same pace as a snail that has been run over by a car!
There is a time and a place for everything and all decisions don’t have to be considered for several years before they are taken.

What we need is to hear from our politicians about their thoughts and plans for the nation.
We need them to come out and speak to the people, to show that they care about us.
We can’t be guessing what they are up to, we need to know.
The transparency president Adama Barrow promised us can’t only be a matter of the behinds of the trousers for all those who has been sitting by their desks for too long.
The material is getting weak the more it is used so it is time to raise up , step out from the grand offices and show that these people are prepared to work hard for all of us.
There seems to be something happening with people who get some power; their minds are changing.
Before they got their position they spoke to people and promised them a lot but what happened when they climbed up to the next level?
Did they get afraid of the hight or did they get afraid of risking to share the power?
Did they feel that they had finally reached up to that level, where they wanted to be, and wished to be left alone and in peace there?
To be able to keep the position for themselves they pulled up the ladder so no one else could climb up to them.

Having a political position is nothing you earn and that you can keep for the rest of your life.
Instead it is a confidence you have got from the people but that can be taken away from you if we feel that we can’t trust that you are doing a good job.
In which other areas in the society are people able to remain at their positions no matter how incompetent they are?
This old and corrupt system must be vanished forever and from now on people should only get elected if they have the right qualifications .
It doesn’t matter whose brother, cousin or aunt it is who wishes to have his or her own office and a nice salary.
You must be able to show that you have a brain that is functioning and a heart that is passionate about your task.

Speaking about passion; our minister of Tourism Mr Bah, seemed to believe that the solution for Gambia’s future is that the young men who has returned from abroad should get married and make babies.
First of all: Mr Bah is the minister of Tourism – not family planning.
Second: Mr Bah is not a psychologist who can help the traumatized young men to rehabilitate in some way. Sex is nice but it gives a short release!
Third: Mr Bah should focuse on his mission – to find good ways for the Gambia of refreshing the tourism area and finding new ways of tempting tourists to visit our beautiful country.
Fourth: Mr Bah’s only qualification for his post is that he has been working as a manager of entertainment at a local hotel – as far as I know.

Is this qualification enough? Was he really the best candidate the government could find? Is the level of qualifications really that low? Then it is embarrassing because we know that groundnuts and tourism are our two grand areas for the revenues of the Gambia.
I’m sure Mr Bah is a nice man but that doesn’t help because from my experience there are a lot of nice men in the Gambia.

Coming as a female tourist we experience that all the time because these men gather around us as we were flowers and they were bees.
Attention is always nice, even if it can be too much sometimes, and that is also something that Mr Bah should be looking at.
If more people could have an income through tourism there would be more possibilities to make a living in a decent way than being a bumster.

The bumsters want to get married too, not with Gambian women as Mr Bah wishes, but with Europeans and by that finding a way out of poverty.
There is true love in many cases, but in too many other cases it is only a matter of people using each other for one reason or another.
We have a lot of lonely women here in Europe and even if some of them search for love in the Gambia not all do.

Not all bumsters wish to get married to these women either, they are only a tool for making a change of life.
This situation is grounded in tragedy – deep loneliness on one side and deep poverty on the other.
The tourism season is beginning very soon and what preparations have been done?
Are the beaches cleaned? Is all the rubbish from the markets taken away?
Is the rubbish that can be burnt without adding more pollution sorted separately?
The other waste must be taken care of in a responsable way because we must always consider the environmental issues.

Everything can be burnt but it shouldn’t because of the pollution of the air, ground and water.
What kind of world do we want our children to take over?
It is time to make a change, listen to advice, highlight issues and get help from abroad if necessary.
There are a lot of help to get, a lot of information to find and plenty of well willing people who offer their help for little or nothing.
We must begin at a small scale and broaden it as time goes by.
To explain what I mean I will make up a little story:
We could compare the problems we find in our society with the issues we might find at home because most things always begin in a small scale and then grow if we have bad luck.
Let’s say that the tap is dripping in the kitchen and that small sound is slowly making the lady of the house out of her mind.

She is home alone when the kids are at school and that dripping sound is all she can hear.
She has tried to deal with the problem but she doesn’t know how.
She spoke to her husband about it and even if he is a skillfull man he didn’t know what to do.
So what to do then?
Should they just leave the problem?
Should they take the risk that the problem will get bigger in time if the tap has rusted and will suddenly fall off and the kitchen will be flooded?
If the damage would increase more this could even lead to damages on the whole house with mould and insects everywhere .

Even worse – the lady of the house would pack her bags, take the children and leave for a better place to live.
The last step would be to take a loan at the bank, build a new house and try to make the wife and children to come back but at the same time be in debt for the rest of your life?
All this became unnecessarily dramatic so maybe we should find some other way to solve the problem?
Ask a neighbour for advice?
Find a friend to a friend who is a plumber and ask if he can deal with the problem for a small sum.
By being wise and taking care of the problems as they appear the solutions will be easier to find.
By being creative it doesn’t have to be extremly hard and costly to deal with some of the issues we have – no matter if they are in our homes or in our society.
In my story about the dripping tap I wanted to show what the results can be if we don’t deal with our problems at an early stage.

There are a lot of problems to deal with in the Gambia, but some of them can actually be dealt with if we look around in the world and see how others have managed.
“A friend to a friend” can be foreign students who are willing to be of assistance with different matters like the environment.
“Take a loan at the bank” and being in dept for the rest of your life would be like depending completely on, for example, Chinese companies who invest a lot in the Gambia but who would own us, be our masters because we owe them so much money.
By using our own force, our creativity, our wisdom, our experience we would find a lot of solutions for the problems our society has.
The elderly must begin to listen to the youth and realize that times have changed even if the elderly haven’t .
The politicians must begin to listen to the people, not only people who belong to the same party as them because the Gambia is not divided in parties.

No matter which party you vote for you still have the same needs as others.
Large companies must begin to understand that the Gambia is now a democracy and people don’t accept bad service anymore – not without protesting – so listen to that NAWEC!
Employers must begin to understand that the level of literacy is slowly rising and that younger people read about their rights on internet. Times are changing and the Gambia can’t afford a revolution.
Listen to each other, no matter what position you have in society.
Show interest and show respect because we depend on each other.
Remember : “No chain is stronger than its weakest link”.

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