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City of Banjul
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

It’s coming down

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By Celestine Mendy

“…when the budget starts to read, and the people can’t succeed.” Such is a clear description of segregation by class, where there exists uneven prioritisation, not based on need. The budget reads but does not read for the purpose of uplifting the common man. This budget gets drafted to further entrench the already existential caveat between the “haves and the have nots”. We have the budget specialist draft one exclusive for the benefits of the “drivers” and the “conductors” get to eat from the crumbs, while the “owner” is at the mercy of the driver. By the same token, the budget specialist has little to no option as to whether what he does could be done any way differently, for it is the “driver” that decides the destination. The driver is that elite trusted with the business of presiding over the affairs of the millions of citizens, who are the actual owners of the bus. I know this when the one person Gambia, working in unison, unilaterally reposed her trust on, boastfully declared “I’m the bus driver” and that he would disembark any passenger who seeks to question the destination of the bus. Here, passengers are those budget specialists, and any other tool through which the welfare of the rest of the millions in this country could have their destination expertly directed to safety. From the rule book of the favoured minority, everyone should just be like sheep led to the slaughterhouse; granted one still wants to enjoy the comfort of the bus. It is certainly a good feeling that a desperate population as we have it here would not mince every opportunity. I wonder if those of us from the outside, the powerful but powerless onlookers, still wonder why “…when the budget starts to read, and the people can’t succeed.” The budget is drafted to keep few afloat while the rest of us wallow in unending penury. The drafter has his stomach to protect, and therefore has his conscience insulated against anything ethical. Nature has vomited them and given them up to depravity. They are somewhat irredeemable. And the sum-total is “suffferation on our back” for the abandoned person who has unintelligibly chose to invest in a risky portfolio with extremely poor expected rate of return. This person appears to be a risk seeker, but a probe of his history of investment would reveal one solemn truth, and that is he is simply an ignorant investor. He is neither risk neutral, too. He allows his brain to be toyed by many investment proposals, even though his risk aversion could be seen in the same breath as Gambian investors who allow Lebanese, Indians and other foreign nationals take control over all aspects of businesses in this country.

Through the same prism, leaders but cankerworms by their devouring escapades chose to “play it safe”. Thus, ‘…when the leaders start to lie, and the poor wonder why” the poor are faced with nothing but tribulations. We would not forget tribulations in the form of sick and sickening health facilities that are forced on us. We would equally not hasten to commit to memory the everyday upsurge of basic commodities. But if anything, we are all hit hard by the sheer freedom with which commercial drivers seek to extort the meagre money from hardworking people of this country of different ranks. This is primarily the students, and mothers who daily would carry the scourging sun on their backs seeking to fashion a concessional tomorrow and provide for their families. But even these commercial drivers are our families, whose daily earnings would be used to pay bills for the students and their mothers. A calculated interrogation of this vicious cycle would reveal that our society has degenerated to an “animal kingdom.” It is “survival of the fittest, and the dying of the least suitable.” There is simply no price control across the supply chain. The other day one Mr. Hamat Bah whom they say is the Minister of Tourism said, “we cannot control what we do not produce.” Such words are inferiorly complementary to the thoughts of one Mr. Edward Gomez. Mr. Gomez told me “Unless we start producing our own, we cannot control the market dynamics.” Yet, the chief cankerworm would stand in different podiums, and somehow manage to say things like “I’m creating” such a number of jobs. Since it is very “Un-African” to ask questions, particularly to elders; we would without hesitation fall for it. And then we sheepishly classify it as “Campaign Promise”, even though we understand it is in fact a taboo for an African political leader to fulfil campaign promises. If you doubt me, ask your political leaders why they usually would renege on a considerable number of their campaign promises, by which they bought our voices, will, power, and willpower. The many “I will do” tools of disempowerment that have successfully worked against us through antiquity. I mean since the white man effortlessly freely gave us “democracy”. Omodele’s model of democracy he proposed in his book “The New Jews” is Africa’s saving grace from the whims and caprices of the school of thought of the “Bretton Woods” and its underbelly. Omodele wrote “…. Africa must evolve a democracy that is relevant to its needs and circumstances…” Of the many longings that the plosive members of the over two million in this country; if surprised with a gold vessel of options from the many promises for which they become aphonic, they would simply opt for job opportunities. They would by far and large opt for that because they are alive to the fact that that is their best bet for economic emancipation. And that all other forms of emancipation are a function of the former.  By that stretch, they would preside over production of goods that they would consume, and equally take charge of services that they would need. Create the enabling environment, and you would morph from a cankerworm to a leader not in love with money but his people.

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“When the leaders start to grab, and the poor are not glad” is a life portrait of the bourgeoisie and proletariat relationship in the economic stratum. The bourgeoisie who controls the means of production, masking as leaders would grab everything from the proletariat who are members of the working class thus resigning them to the subservient role of disgruntled poor men. This has been the life of my poor farmer parents and the people who represent them. I know them to be diligent farmers with annual produce of tones of groundnut. But I sadly know them as the poorest of the poor. They never had anything to show for their hard work. But somewhere, there are those who became rich through the sweat of my parents. “By the sweat of your brow” would one lift himself from financial shackles to financial independence, but it is not so in the country I come from. It is in fact “by the sweat of your brow” would you unwillingly but unfailingly lift the bourgeoisie up. The relationship has always been parasitic. The unwilling host will reluctantly bear the full brunt of damage caused by the shameless, yet arrogant parasite. Change is inevitable, so there are new innovations put in place by the so-called elites to feather the nest of this shameful societal relationship. For the proponents of capitalism, this is what your parents have lived under and died poor. You inherited poverty from them, and that poverty is here to stay because you have also unsuspectingly inherited the capitalism system. It is the system that the “educated” said is the only tried, tested, and proven means of ushering development in societies. They talk as if capitalism is some new innovation. The only “new innovation” about it is the everyday repackaging and reserving in new packaging bags. But the flesh remains the rotten and tasteless it has always been. If one ever observes our society and comes up with a conclusion that “the poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer”, it is capitalism that is staring right at your face. But since it works for the few, and these few are the ones who control the narrative, they would not relent in whitewashing the same old lie just so that they maintain the lead over us. It is their competitive advantage, their bargaining chip. The yield from it, therefore, is botheration in our lives.

It is therefore evident that “each and everyday time is getting harder” on this side of the aisle. It has become increasingly untenable for the majority of the masses to afford basic commodities. One really needs to dispense with telling efforts to get food, clothes, and medications. But the sad reality is that the conditions we live under is the summation of the decisions we make, collectively. We have always been offered chances so that we can redeem ourselves, but we always fail each time such chances come our way. National decisions, engagements, and almost every other aspect of the social contract between the state and her people has since independence headed on a bumpy road to abyss. This is only true if one is interested in doing a retrospective observation. We have come far as a nation, yet all that we can account for clearly shows that “IT’S COMING DOWN” in terms of human development index, gross happiness index, and gross respect index compared to several other nations that were at one time in the same pool with us.

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