Some weeks ago, President Barrow installed his new cabinet and made a speech to all the ministers, old and new. It was a great speech, but I had to read it several times because at first I thought it was a joke.
The word you is the same in singular as well as plural, therefore Barrow should stand at a mirror, speaking to himself first before he addresses the ministers. Here is a quote from the beginning of the speech, it is a cut from The Standard Newspaper:
”addressing his ministers, Barrow said: I assure you my support, but we must take a zero-tolerance stance on corruption. We are responsible for the state resources in our custody, and should not be found wanting.”
Has President Barrow been sleeping for 5 years and suddenly woken up and realized that there comes certain responsibilities with leading the country? Every word in his speech is a word of advice for himself first of all, and that is where it should begin. The president should be a rolemodel for the country and through his actions show how others are expected to act. It is pathetic to read the speech to the ministers, when we all know what has been going on since 2017. It is also pathetic to have a president who is so immature that he doesn’t understand that his words as well as his actions count. It is like watching kids playing a video game where they are trying to rule a fantasy land, making up new rules as they go and mixing up some small fractions of common sense with a lot of self enlargement and boasting over so called victories.
Some time ago, I wrote about a psychological term called narcissism, where a person is so obsessed with his own self that he doesn’t see others and their needs. He enjoys taking photos of himself, hearing others telling how grand he is and is the first to tell others how to behave while he is living in his dream world where he is the great ruler without any faults. With such a large ego there is no room for any other people, their wishes, their needs and their suffering. The little suffering that might affect a narcissist is so much larger than anyone else’s, so there is no time to talk about that. The needs and wishes of the narcissist comes first, after that there might be a little time to pretend to listen to the others.
Mirror, mirror on the wall was something the evil witch, in the children’s story of the princess Snow White, used to say. The witch stood in front of her magical mirror, asking the mirror who was the most beautiful woman in the world. The magical mirror always answered that the witch was the most beautiful woman in the world, until one day when it suddenly told that the princess Snow White was that instead. The evil witch became furious and smashed the mirror in pieces. She decided to take revenge on Snow White and tried to kill her.
All these old children’s stories come with a sensmoral, where the kids are meant to learn something from it. What could be learnt from the sequence with the evil witch standing in front of her mirror, admiring herself and wishing the same reply from it every time is that we should not be so obsessed with our self image. The story ended in tragedy for the evil witch so the story told us to be good or we will face a negative fate. Evil forces are strong, but we must do everything we can to resist them, goodness must and will win – sooner or later. We can never allow ourselves to believe otherwise, even if we lose courage from time to time. We must hail our deceased heroes, those who fought for our freedom. They lost their lives, but the battle will keep on because what would be the alternative?
Mr President, it is time for some introspection! Record your speech for the ministers and listen to it until you know it by heart. Let the words sink into your heart and allow them to align with your mind so your fantasy image of yourself and your achievements become connected to the reality. The citizens of The Gambia have no use for your great words as long as your actions show something else. It doesn’t matter if you wear expensive gear to show what a great man you believe you are, when we have people who don’t have one pair of sandals that are not broken and mended. It is visible that you enjoy good food every day, but have you thought of your countrymen and -women who don’t have more than one meal a day?
Why are you stressing the corruption so much? Is it because you are afraid that you and those who are close to you will not get enough if other’s will take more? I don’t think it is because you care about the other Gambians, because their wellfare hasn’t been on your agenda for the last 5 years. You keep on complaining about those who complain about you, but don’t give them the reasons then! Don’t listen to those who agree with you all the time, listen to those who argue, who question you, who write articles and demonstrate and ask them what they want. First of all, tell them to skip the tribalism and then make a list of things that they need. The needs must be of the kind that benefits the whole country, and it is about time to show solidarity. The grief is just as deep when you lose a loved one, no matter if the person is Mandinka, Fula or Serahule.
You as a person is not important for anyone but your family, Mr President. Your position and your responsibilities are what counts, so listen to your own words and start to act according to them. It doesn’t matter if the speech was written for you, it is still your words. Print the speech and frame it, hang the speech in every office for the ministers, but begin with your own office. Let the speech be your mantra which you repeat every day. Begin your working day by reading the speech and pray to God that he will lead you on the right path.
Don’t waste another 5 years with doing almost nothing. We can’t afford more suffering in The Gambia, we can’t afford more people dying in our hospitals because of lack of proper equipment. We can’t afford more young people fleeing the backway and dying in the Mediterranean Sea or in prison camps in Libya.
Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, Mr President, look yourself in the eye and ask: What have I done for my country today? Let’s hope that your mirror is working its magic and gives you the right answer, not the ones you always want.