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Monday, September 28, 2020

The Gambia Powerful Authority’s final insult on the General Mediocrity Agency: a contemporary critique of New Gambia’s institutional arrangements

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By Rohey Samba

When you decide to take hold of your own destiny, you are presented with unexpected surprises in the most unlikely places.
To begin with, excuse my digression for this is far removed from my weekly article of and about women issues, dubbed SisterSpeak. Yet, since I seek to write a somewhat lateral biography of a precarious time in The Gambia, I will be found wanting should I be feather-bedded into the ranks of the irresolute, like a raw prawn that is primed to be cooked in boiling hot water…

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For personal reasons, pretty much because moving to the General Mediocrity Agency killed my career altogether, and for reasons other than mine, as indeed the shimmering anger of its workers is collective, I choose to revisit the tale about the Agency. This is prompted by an addition of a new stooge, an add-on mediocre worker jettisoned by The Gambia Powerful Authority.
As Bernard Levin once wrote, not even the vainest newspaper writer can believe their work is destined “ to outlive marble and the gilded monuments of princes, though it were bound in Nigerian goatskin and sold in a slipcase of stainless steel.”

But I beg to differ, Bernard…
Last time I wrote about the General Mediocrity Agency in the Daily Observer newspaper, I had only nasty things to say. But it yielded mainly, positive results, as indeed the utter brazenness with which it was written , prompted mainly by angst and frustration, not forgetting its sincerity of purpose, paid off, seeping into the collective consciousness of an enthroned leadership.

Fact of the matter is, you can’t fool all the people all the time, even in a dictatorship. Sooner or later, the tsunami of hatred will begin to rise from the least expected places.
The reason we write is not to be outlived by our words, but to create impact, which outlives not only marble but also the pyramids of Pharaohs for they alter the whole course of history itself. Writing bridges that river beyond right and wrong where neutrals are perceived with distaste and the downtrodden who sacrificed for the crumbs-eating crowd after the bigger pie has been shared amongst the powerful, embraced for their methods.

Again, if one seeks to write for fame or to impress, then put your pen down, for there are millions, if not billions of writers to compete with in this world… yet by penning the truth to a lie and pursuing the course of justice to repair a wrong, you are a hero in the eyes of God, if no one else’s. Thus by the inscriptions of The Gambia national anthem, we reaffirm our commitment to the words by Mrs. Howe, who wrote: Let justice guide our actions towards the common good…

Justice as a guide to our actions dispels the notion of fear. Admittedly, my only fear is to wrong somebody willfully, who has done nothing to deserve it. Never the fear to ruffle feathers by expressing in plain writings that are informed by prodigious reading, a piece of my mind. Spoken words like air dissipate in the wind. Written words hang on long after the author pens down his/her thoughts. Thus the power of writings devoted to good causes as a route towards justice is one we must encourage in this burgeoning democracy of a new Gambia.

While most history considers how we exercise power, The General Mediocrity Agency’s story, a historical satire itself, considered how weakness disguised as power gave shape to mediocrity in the midst of competence. A year after writing the much touted satire, I still find myself asking the question, how can the blind lead the way when the visually unimpaired are amongst the crowd? What chaos can that bring to an institution, any institution for that matter?

Life is never going to be easy for critics like me, but the fact is, life isn’t easy for the acquiescent either. It is vindication enough to be heard when you should be heard, and not to rage and fume behind closed doors, as Babili Monkey has taught us to do all of these years. In effect, I am all in for the motion, rather be hated than to hate oneself, for you are alone and on your own for the most part of your life.

Keeping quiet on things that matter to us, is the worst form of slavery to succumb to in this new era of ours. That said, I must admit with the honorable exception of three-legged horse’s replacement, change is far beyond reach in this new dispensation in so far as the General Mediocrity Agency is concerned. Under the increasingly insensitive and cynical Board, I am moved to sorrow for the fate of the Agency as The Gambia Powerful Authority continues to feed it with the worst of its leftovers, a year on.
The new political dispensation was meant to inspire confidence by eroding the eccentricities of the ingrained culture of lobbying for positions at the expense of highly qualified professionals, a feat that was practiced shamelessly for the past 22 years.

My boiling rage is, what the heck do they take us for? I mean our line Ministry, the Powerful Authority and Mediocrity’s Board ?
Are we their pit latrine to dump their waste?
When will we get enough of their scum to warrant a revolt against Mediocrity’s insipid Board?
As for the Board’s single-mindedness, is it ruthlessness? Without doubt yes!
Is it legal that they bring in whoever they fancy among the least credible workers of the Powerful Authority? Of course yes, for it is constitutionally allowable.

But is it fair, responsible or even honorable for all it is worth?
Where lies the justice in the Board’s shameful endorsement actions?
The burden has fallen upon me once again, as a writer to thereto yield to my writings, hoping to bear all the consequences of my words and with you, your readership, make good account to Almighty God that we tried by the gift He endowed us with, to free the Agency from the conservative restraint that has held it hostage with ignorance, inefficiency and incompetence since its inception.

I assert here that, Mediocrity Agency’s insipid Board are guilty not only of crimes against quality but of crimes against its long serving professionals who have been running the institution from the word go. The Agency should be grateful to these professionals, and the Board, give the devil its due before it’s too late to mend the consequences of its active omissions.

When certain geeks choose to alloy sycophancy with mercy in order to tamper the revenge on the stooges at our own peril, then where is the change we aspired for? Shall we continue to mistake scum with gold at the detriment of national development; wherein lobbyists win favors whilst workers work for less than they are worth, in the vicious and continuous cycle of monkey work baboon chop rejuvenation of a ‘newly recycled’ Gambia?

This Board that has been unchanged basically since the inception of the General Mediocrity Agency will always be remembered as irresponsible, irresponsive and ignorant by the generation of professionals who shaped this Agency and made it relevant in the eyes of the world. Fact of the matter is, these professionals started from scratch, structured, designed and even came up with the Agency’s own strategic plan-without tendering the services of a consultant. And if today, they are not given credit, they will nod to themselves, and proudly say, ‘We have done well!”

In the meantime, the professionals who form the core of the Agency will continue to suffer at the expense of the enabled few. This of course is the price they will continue to pay for transferring to a mediocre institution until the gods finally intervene and provide them with worthier jobs as their mates from the same illustrious institutions of learning.

Unquestionably, their stomachs are filled with the empty air of unrealized dreams and their heads bleed from frustration at the status quo.
While my reputation will undoubtedly suffer as a trouble maker, I will like to be remembered as the lady who spoke her mind even after being hung off twice by the insipid Board’s chairman. I will continue to show that the power of writing resides in its normalcy in pissing anyone whom the cap fits. After all, patience has its limits in the ambit of tolerance: And to whom the bell tolls, we say collectively to you that we are tired of being patient.

They say the richest places in Africa are the graves where the brightest brains Rest In Peace forevermore. This is no doubt true, when empty barrels are given the platform and their route to success eased by who they know more than what they know. That this obtains in new Gambia, is a tragedy we will continue to moan.
Finally, someone famous once said, ‘injustice to one is a threat to justice for all’. This is as true as truth can be. In the beginning of the year, I was optimistic about New Gambia…I do not want to be part of the Gambians who claim the derogatory terms, Gambia Has Regretted, by the year’s end.
Till then, Justice to all!

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