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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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“Allah chooses all leaders”

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Yahya Jammeh, a murderer, and a thief, a hypocritical president who went around abusing old men and women in a satanic ritual of finding witches, isn’t the only president who tried to convince us that it was Allah who chose him to seize power from Dawda Jawara and become president. Many of our African leaders also believe and want us to believe that it is Allah who chose them to be president. And when political times were good for one of our former Vice Presidents, Dr Isatou Touray, the Standard Newspaper reports her as saying “President Adama Barrow is chosen by God and whosoever refuses to follow him is disobeying God”! The things Gambians will say to remain in their palass are quite extraordinary.

Interestingly, the same Dr Isatou Touray conveniently forgot that she herself refused to follow the tyrant Yahya Jammeh and even campaigned against him. Is it that in Dr Isatou Touray’s logic, God chose Adama Barrow but did not choose Yahya Jammeh? I am sure my new best friend, the religiously garbed Almameh Gibba will disagree with that contention. In Almameh Gibba’s convoluted logic, it was Allah who chose Yahya Jammeh to conduct a coup and steal power even though coups are bad. Miseducation is far more dangerous than ignorance. At least there is some bliss in ignorance! There is nothing blissful about miseducation and in our parliament sits some of the most miseducated hustlers calling themselves representatives! But I guess they too were chosen by Allah. Or is that Allah only chooses our Presidents and not our Parliamentarians?

Interestingly, our politicians are not the only ones to make such uneducated claims about Allah choosing our political leaders; some of our religious leaders also tell us that following a leader is an obligation because leaders are chosen by Allah. If one lived in a state where leaders are charged with implementing the laws of Allah on earth, maybe I can sympathize with that argument. But in The Gambia, what we call the supreme law of the land says nothing about implementing the laws of Allah on earth. In Gambia, your leaders swear to uphold the Constitution, not the Quran. I doubt Allah will select a leader and tell them to uphold a manmade and secular document when Allah’s guidance is found in the Quran.

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African politicians would want the people to believe that they were chosen by Allah because it buys them legitimacy. Especially in a country where pretending to be religious is far more important than being actually religious. What many of us do not question is whether this legitimacy qualifies as divine legitimacy which one can only get through complete submission to the will of Allah. In a country where politicians think it is alright to tell the people anything in order to get their vote, I doubt their actions align with someone who Allah entrusts with leading the people. Complete submission to Allah is not a requirement to be president in any African country!

One of the reasons your politicians will want you to believe that it is Allah who chose them is because In The Gambia nothing buys you legitimacy faster than religious appearance or shrouding yourself in divinity even if you have zero moral currency. If you can quote a few religious verses or dress in religious garb, you could be the devil in Satan’s parliament, but in Gambia, you will succeed in projecting yourself as a saint.

I think one of the most abused concepts in Gambian discourse is the concept of free will and predestination. For many of us, claiming that something is “willed by Allah” is only used as a cheap escape from our own responsibilities. Other times, we claim that something is willed by Allah because we want to bamboozle others into accepting us or the conditions we created. Africans should take responsibility for our terrible leaders. Everywhere else you go in this world, you’ll find excellent leaders who are bettering the lives of their people. The majority of African leaders are more focused on bettering themselves and their cronies. You’d think that Allah chooses good leaders for all other people except the Africans! That is an insane belief! Let’s take responsibility for our leadership and stop associating Allah with our dirty politics! If I had the powers, I would sue anyone who associates the Allah I believe in with dirty politics. I think it’s blasphemous!

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Alagie Saidy-Barrow

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