By Jamal Drammeh
“Did you hear about the Rose that grew from a crack in the concrete [?] Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems but by keeping it’s dreams it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the Rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared!” -Tupac Shakur.
Since I was a little boy, this poem helped me see with certain peculiarity into dimensions that my peers show profound unconcerned for. Sometimes, they take more interest in parts of the same subject matter that I care the least about. In other words, this poem sharpened my perception in perceiving beauty in the essential nature of things rather than obsessing over the apparent ‘defects’. I often contemplate on the odds of the daily miracles happening before giving much thought to the defects, or why the miracles weren’t perfect after all.
When I think of this improbable twilight of ‘the new Gambia’ and our new democracy – I see a rose growing out of concrete. I’m left to wonder ‘how’ can we make it blossom some more, and not get too busy castigating each other for why this beauty isn’t perfect after all.
In quest to a greater end for our new democracy, we sometimes go to the extremes. Extremes produce defects by law. Sometimes we unwittingly ask for plebiscite instead of the republican democracy we have. A society of a dozen people can perhaps be governed through plebiscite; where every decision is subject to the scrutiny and the vote of each member of the society. Hence, a direct governance of the people by all its members, instead of a representative government elected to represent the people in government. A million people cannot be governed like that.
It’s becoming common place to hear cries of foul play and allegations of abuse of power labeled against the executive body – because they simply carried out their executive functions in ways that didn’t please the ‘plaintiffs’. Even appointments to the executive branch, by the executive body, are suddenly turned into a ‘national scandals’ with loud protestations to decry the rise of a new ‘super villain’. When a decision is seen to be unwise or unfair – some would critique the fact that such vested authority of the executive is exercised by them. Like; “how dare they exercise their executive duty?”
Many others make genuine constructive criticism of the government, which is commendable, but some just disguise their disdain for certain party members in government with some form of patriotic duty to express dissent on everything and saw discord at every opportunity. We can see through both very well, for we know each other very well. Idealism that grew out of contempt will always morph into some form of base fanaticism. No political metamorphosis can conceal the mean motives of a rogue. Self-righteous resentment is becoming a common ploy for intellectual dishonesty. But who are we fooling?
Even the honest critics see their idealism as the only form of pragmatism, forgetting that every ‘pragmatism’ rise out of opinions based on qualified facts. So who is to say their methods and doctrines are the only true pragmatism?
With the internet, one can easily be cocooned into information bubbles to reinforce own biases and be no longer amenable to reason and oblivious to facts. It is easy to live in echo chambers and live in blind adulation of foolish praise of empty words. Repulsion to opposing views and using profane labels to tag any who dare to differ is fanaticism. But the orients of such base methods will still claim their dogmatism is the absolute pragmatism. The ‘insane’ believes in his own illusions.
Lurking in the background; we have the new guards versus the old guards…. or should I say the new activists versus the old activists? Why do you need to so painfully protect the memory of your old glory even to the point of insulting others for expressing their opinions?
“The force of character is cumulative” said Emerson. All the foregone days of courage, virtue and resilience will come to your aid and defense at any attempt to minimize your honest efforts to end Jammeh’s despotic regime.
There is no need to feel threatened by the new breeds of activists in our new democracy. You do not need to waste your vital energy assailing anyone you don’t know to be conspicuously active in politics during the gloomy murderous regime of Jammeh. You don’t need to keep asking every other speaker ‘where they were during the Jammeh days’ to feel you’re still relevant. Real heroes have very little time for triumphing, and reminding folks that they’re the only “true heroes” of the revolution. The heroes are still busy working in the fields for yet a better and more prosperous Gambia.
To the new guards; Goliath is dead! No amount of political posturing and imaginary heroism can bring for you a new Goliath to slay. So to the new voices of activism and voices of reason in our political discourse; take an advice from Micheal Angelo – when he told a young sculptor not to be too concern with shining light on his own works, for the light of Public Square with test its value. So do your work and carry on – this is only a new beginning.
I’ve learned early on that around every circle, a greater circle could be circumscribed. Anything mundane that’s declared to be the pedestal is often only the point of a new beginning. The coming of new series. Life moves onward, so every ‘today’ gives us a chance for a better ‘tomorrow’. Everyday is a chance for you to do something good and noble for your country and countrymen.
To the disgruntled; Barrow is not Jammeh. Your moral equivalence and constant comparisons of the two regimes makes no sense and makes you sound bitter and at times like a shallow invalid. These false moral equivalences make you seem like an intellectual prostitute. If you want to be taken seriously, stop relegating descent human beings or your political foes down to the level of a murderous despot – Jammeh & Co. It’s a cheap argument and makes you seem foolish. Simply critique the government with facts and clear reason. That’s honorable.
In the new Gambia, we at times seem too busy asking ‘why this rose of ours, that rose against all odds, still have damaged petals?’. In our fascination with the apparent defects, we give little thought to the essential beauty of our new democracy.
No matter what you think of the vicissitudes of our new democracy, it is still the result of an unimaginable improbability. It is the “Rose that grew from a crack in the concrete.” So don’t ask me why it has damaged petals… ask me how we can make this flower of the new Gambia blossom some more.