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City of Banjul
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

For the coming generations

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With Aicha

What kind of future can our coming generations expect to have in the Gambia? Can we feel proud to hand over what we have been expected to take care of in the best way possible? Do we feel that our coming generations are worthy what we have taken for granted? What about clean air, water that is not contaminated, forests to play in, forests that are the lungs of the earth? Do we have the right to finish everything so there is nothing left for those who are coming after us? We should cover our faces in shame, ask God for forgiveness and repent! There is still time to turn around, to change and repair what has been damaged.

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All it takes is awareness, a true will to work hard for it and solidarity. We should leave our party colours behind us, because we all breathe the same air.

Pollution, deforestation and climate change affect us all. It doesn’t help to point fingers anymore, we must stop the blame-game.

Chinese vessels roam around the sea like gigantic fish swallowing monsters. They leave nothing for those who depend on fish for their daily meals.

The little they can get becomes too costly for a poor family, and God knows that most of the families in the Gambia are struggling to make ends meet.

The Chinese government has strict rules for their own fish industry. Fishing in Chinese waters is forbidden under some months every year to make it possible for small fish to grow.

Fishermen who don’t follow the rules get punished, but who is punished when the Gambian waters get out fished? It is the Gambian people who suffer for someone else’s greed, and we can’t only blame the Chinese government for this. Even if they are powerful they can’t come and rob all fish in someone else’s waters without its consent.

So, what about our government here in the Gambia? Is there no one who has some common sense? Is there no one who is telling that this madness has to stop, that our people will starve when the Chinese feed their pigs with our fish? Yes, pigs!!! They have a huge pork industry in China and the fish gets dried and grinded to powder.

This becomes food for pigs and how does that make you feel as a Muslim? Doesn’t it feel awkward that you are hungry because someone is giving your food to an animal you are not even allowed to eat? Didn’t you know, or don’t you care?
Can’t we expect from our leaders to have the knowledge and the ability to understand the long term consequences of this outfishing? Where are the experts, where are those who dare to say the truth even if it is unpleasant? If you have a salary high enough so you don’t have to care about the cost of your food it is nice for you, but not even the most corrupted politicians can eat money.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have on your bank account if there is no food to buy. What will you eat then? When your children are crying of hunger, what will you give them? Do you know that we already have children who cry of hunger? We have mothers who boil water in the evening, pretending that they are cooking supper, hoping that the kids will fall asleep as soon as possible before they realize that there is nothing in the pot but water.

We have fathers who work for some lousy dalasi every day. When they come home in the evening they are met by a hopeful wife who doesn’t dare to ask if she will get some fish money from him for the next day.

The hope dies when she sees him in the eyes, she can read the unspoken message that there will be no money.

The husband is hiding his anguish behind anger because he knows that if he lowers his guard he will break in to pieces.

No money means no food, no medication for the sick, no school books or school fees for the children.

No money means no hope for the future, if there even is a future for the poor ones.

Is this how we want it to be until eternity?
The German philosopher Karl Marx, who lived in the 19th century, spoke about religion as ”opium for the people.”

Opium was commonly used as pain killers but it was highly addictive. Many poor people used it to forget their social situation and to dampen their hunger.

Religion can be misused, it can suppress people and make them believe that it is God who has decided how everyone’s life should be.

The part that God gave us a free will and the capacity to work for our living is nothing dominant religious leaders wish to speak about.

Instead we are made to believe that there is a fixed plan for every life, that nothing can be changed so we just have to accept our situation as it is.

As long as we can’t read and interpret the scriptures by ourselves we are easily led in to misery.

Opium is highly addictive, it gives you a rush which feels good at the beginning, but when your brain has got used to the drug it will ask for more and more.

You become a slave under the addiction but the process is so slow so you don’t realize it until it is too late. You wonder how a drug can be compared with religion.

Believing in God is something good, it gives you comfort in bad times and joy when you are counting your blessings.

I agree with you, religion is something good when you have a balance. Religion can also be used as a tool to suppress people, when people are lured in to something that feels good at the beginning.

I am talking about the extremes, so don’t worry people, I’m not going down on our daily prayers.

What I am speaking about is when religion is used as a tool. It’s easy to look at the extremes within our own religion, Islam.

Some people use it to suppress others, some use it as an excuse for terrorism.

You and I know that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, but still many believe that because of misled people.

These people shout Allahu Akbar and hold the Holy Qur’an in their hands as a justification for their actions.

Most of them are actually illiterate and couldn’t read from our Holy book even if they wanted to.

They have been brain washed and made to believe that what they do is right.

Their leaders sacrifice human lives without hesitation, people die because of what they have been made to believe is a holy act.

The leaders are mostly far away from the battle fields, they hide themselves somewhere safe

. Many of the soldiers/fighters are high on drugs, their emotions are shut off and they act without a thought – as robots.

Religious leaders, who act as they have all the answers and who refuse to be questioned, are able to oppress people if they wish.

This is possible in countries where most citizens are illiterate. Not only are you unable to read the scriptures by yourself and also interpret them.

You don’t also have the self esteem to question what the religious leaders are telling you. If you disagree and try to start a discussion you have no mental ammunition for your battle, no possibility to compete on the same terms because of your lack of knowledge.

Do these leaders wish it to remain that way? Oh yes, they wish because as long as they are keeping you down, they can stay up on a high position.

In countries where the religion is the beginning and the end of everyone’s lives people respect their religious leaders and don’t question them.

Respect is good, but as in everything else – we need a balance. Respect should never be confused with fear.

We fear the dooms day, we fear not being allowed entering Jannah, we fear that God will punish us for not being blindly following the words of those who say they can interpret the words of God.

We fear to expose our shame, our lack of knowledge, we also fear to go our own way instead of following the others as a flock of sheep.

It is always easier to do as everyone else is doing, then at least you don’t have to be the one who gets in trouble.

It is more convenient, and many times safer, to hide your doubt and ask no questions.

This, my friends, is not how we build a democracy! In a democracy people live on equal terms, children go to school without fear, families can afford to eat food every day, health care is affordable and you are allowed to think, speak and believe freely.

In a democracy, political leaders communicate with the citizens, they focus on what is best for the country and not for their own bank accounts.

In a democracy politicians are getting a good salary because they have a great responsibility.

This salary is controlled by rules, extra income is also controlled and they have to pay taxes for that too

. People with high incomes pay higher taxes; that is only fair.

Corruption shows its ugly head sometimes but is fought back, because in a democracy the leaders understand which signals corruption is sending to the citizens.

In a democracy politicians don’t only make plans for what they wish to achieve during a mandate period, they know that great changes take more than 4-5 years to achieve.

They discuss and make agreements among the parties because no party is big enough to change everything on their own.

In a democracy the political debate can become heated from time to time, but as long as everyone has the same goal – what is best for the country – it will always be possible to come to an agreement.

Discussions can be tiresome, but no one is perfect enough to have all the correct answers.

There can be details someone hasn’t thought of so it’s good to get them from someone else.

We should never base politics on prestige, that will kill the freedom of expression.

Sometimes we need to agree to disagree, and go on from there.

So – what kind of future are we handing over to the coming generations? A country that looks like a mess with trash thrown everywhere, where the forests are cut down, where the waters are polluted and the sea is out fished? A country that is led by fear, corruption and short term thinking? A Gambia where development is hard because we don’t have enough educated people? Do we wish more young people to risk their lives leaving the Gambia the back way, hoping they will get a better life somewhere else?
We need to change all this together, because enough is enough!
Together we are strong, we are able to change the world.
#NeverAgain must mean something and not only be a catchy device.

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