If great leaders starting from Prophet Muhammad, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela went by what was popular for political points or reasons, we would probably not be existing in a civilised world with all its flaws. Words like mercy, compassion, reconciliation, dialogue, freedom, peace, love, community, justice, change, hope, and individual rights would be missing even in our dictionaries.
My brothers and sisters, while there is agony and pain in our hearts for victims everywhere, we need to work together for the common good and do away with words of retaliation, hate, animosity, insults, and chaos. We all know we have a problem and in order to fix that problem we have to identify and verify the problem. Then we admit the problem and find solutions to the problem. It is the duty and moral obligation of each and every one of us to do whatever we can to solve the problem. Whatever approach one takes, it does not have to be popular for political points, or be in fear of getting condemed and left alone to stand for a just cause. There are brothers and sisters who are genuine and will go about doing things differently but that does not make them unpatriotic or anti-government. There are members in different political parties who may share the same just cause we are all fighting for but are scared that they will be turned away because of their past relations. Also, there are others who are just waiting for the right words and actions to unite us all, but see little hope because the hope and inspiration they need is lacking. No one should attack anyone for choosing a side but should work tirelessly to gain their support so that you can snatch them away if you mean well.
Do not get me wrong, I strongly believe the same thing all organisations are yearning for. That same thing, is a peaceful Gambia living up to democratic principles, with freedom and peace each day. Where one gets to be proud to live in dignity, respect, and pride as a born Gambian. However, we may disagree with logic and methods as to the way forward, but for anyone who believes that violence is the only way to achieve peace, you are clearly mistaken and need more guidance. I will give you some examples to reiterate what I just said.
The Prophet Muhammad who Muslims look up to as a guidance, was a husband, father, general, and prophet of Allah sent on to us mankind with God’s mercy for us. Yes Islam and many religions fought but the Prophet endured so much before he fought with his people. The Prophet was driven to exile after all the terrible ordeal he went through with his people in Mecca, to Medina. He had to negotiate and sit with the opposite side for a peace treaty after all the blood and sacrifices that was made. When he started writing in the name of Allah and his Prophet they automatically stopped him and told him to erase that because they didn’t believe in his God and him. His companion Omar could not stand it and was furious. “How can you allow this for them not to recognise our God and you the prophet of Allah! No No!!” The Prophet said not to worry and took the name of Allah and his name off just to gain peace for 10 years. After that, Islam grew and the people just marched to Mecca without hurting anyone. The prophet showed compassion by releasing all those who were plotting and killing his people. When asked about jihad which many people misinterpret, he said that the jihad we should be worried about is fighting our inner self.
Other examples are the case of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. As Martin Luther rightfully said, “Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
This is where I stand, so let us stop the blame game and do what is right. Although risky, I like many others have faith in what we are doing. What I believe is right is to fight injustice everywhere not just in Gaza, Nigeria, USA, but even in your own backyard. What is right is to learn from Martin Luther King’s inspirer Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi achieved a lot for India and around the world by non-violence. He had numerous meetings with the British colonialists, and eventually got the freedom they rightfully deserved.
Nothing easy that is worth something or valued comes easy as President Obama said before. We need to make huge sacrifices in order to achieve our goals. While the time calls for unity, what we cannot afford is to sit by and rant or make excuses when action is what is needed. I may not have the consent to speak for all at this moment with this approach I am taking to open dialogue with the president of our beloved country, The Gambia, but I would ask that we have an honest debate when we meet to show vision and clarity as to a way forward. A way forward that would lead us to a peaceful Gambia. May we all do what is right for the greater good of all and not just ourselves. Let us exhaust all diplomatic channels with sincerity, faith, and hope for a better Gambia that will protect its national interest. I am one of you, and you are one of me. Regardless of party affiliation, tribe, religion, gender, or colour, we are one big family.