Gambian polity and aestheticization of poverty


With Alhassan Darboe

The topic for today’s column is inspired by the Gambian anesthetization and aestheticization of poverty. Of mediocrity, ofcharity and of false generosity on and off social media. It is so sad that the very so-called educated and exposed people who should have been helping us force our clueless government act right are the very people enabling its irresponsibility and lack of care for our country’s poorest and marginalized citizens.
For years, we have been so proud to raise money to help patients move abroad for better health care and yet we are indifferent and refusingby default or design to come up with strategies to force our government to do the right thing by investing in healthcare access and recruitment of specialists needed to undertake these complicated surgeries.
The clueless government of Adama Barrow will not do it unless their very lives depend on it. And in the meantime, poor people continue to die cheaply and avoidably thanks to the indifference of the people we elected to run our country. A young military woman died few days ago after childbirth. There is no way she would have died in even Dakar. But some of our small-minded people would still say, it’s her time to die when actually her death is caused by executive neglect of health care system.

To do or not to do: The place of charity in our society
Ayn Rand, the Russian born American philosopher was very right when she argued that: “It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others”. The poor and the marginalized in our country do not need our charity and exhibitionism of their poverty online but our collective action to force the powers that be to care for the masses and spend their tax monies in preservation of their lives not the hastened end of it due to poor health care facilities in our country.


We manufacture poverty in our homes
More often than not, most people place the lack of jobs and poverty on the millennial youths and their laziness.In my opinion poverty starts in our homes. We are the very manufacturers and enablers of poverty in our homes and families. Go to an average Gambian home, you are sure to find an average of 15 people depending on one person for survival with a salary of less than five thousand dalasis. How is he supposed to feed a family of fifteen with such a meagre salary and not be corrupt and crooked like scoliosis? How do you expect him to pay school fees and plan the future of his kids on a five-thousand dalasi salary?
Most of our people are lazy, frankly speaking. It shocks me whenever I visit Gambia and see grown up men sitting around with no profession or skills to their name, yet they complain about lack of jobs. Most of us especially the diaspora are willing enablers because we are always proud to brag about how we feed our entire families while forgetting the role we play in their laziness, mediocrity, and complacency.
For a start, we must stop the false generosity in our society and help people become independent than dependent on our charity. If you are a head of family and your family depends on you for everything, you have failed as a leader and a parent because you raised your family as a herd instead of training them to be industrious and independent.

Lack of financial education in our society
I spend a lot of time in my ancestral village of Gunjur and the level of financial literacy shocks me to my bone. Every weekend is Ashobi and a trip to the taylor which costs thousands of dalasis. I see very broke people doing expensive naming ceremonies and weddings to impress other poor neighbors instead of investing that in a business to generate wealth over time. I see people selling the lands reserved for the children to marry second and third wives out of ‘libidinal’ greed than any necessity you can ever think of.
We have a society to build and minds to change if we are to develop as a country. Ayn Rand argued that we must reject altruism in all its forms in our bid to build an independent and better society. She said: “It is morally proper to accept help, when it is offered, not as a moral duty, but as an act of good will and generosity, when the giver can afford it and when it is offered in response to the receiver’s virtues, not in response to his flaws”.
Our country needs a great deal of civic and financial education if we are to move forward. So many poor people are having so many kids they can’t take care of and this becomes a burden on society and extended family members. My father had 17 kids from multiple wives, and given the stupidity of some of my brothers, I wonder why he needed to bring that many idiotic kids into the world (apologies family). I would have been okay with staying in heaven as an angel than be born into this coronavirus-gripped world. Which brings me to Arthur Schopenhauer’s pessimism essays. He wondered: “If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?”

On the brewing scandal at SSHFC
For the past few weeks, the human resources director of SSHFC Mama Linguere Sarr has been coming under pressure and constant media onslaught for brandishing and getting a fake master’s degree she never earned from the U.K. These allegations are seriously serious. How is this my business anyway? I could have minded my business and not involve myself in this messy business. But as a crisis communication expert, I can give you free consultancy and do believe me and do as I say because I have an A in that course at graduate school.

For the love of God Almighty, as a human resources manager and for the love and peace of the mind of the institution you serve, it is imperative and urgent for you provide a proof of your master’s degree attainment so SSHFC can move on. Because it has suffered enough from Jammeh era to date. Rumors can be injurious reputationally and financially to organizations. According to Coombs and Hollady, (1996) the nature of the veracity of a crisis, over all organizational performance and crisis response plays a very vital role in both the internal and external perception of an organization (p.279).Do the right thing and bring out that degree. I wish the toxic rebels at social security will grow up and handle SSHFC internal problems maturely than resorting to trial by unethical and propagandistic media.

President Barrow and the confederacy of fools, brain-dead advisers
Good morning Mr President Adama Barrow and happy Friday. I am writing this as a bonafide Gambian taxpayer. Please use our hardworking taxpayers’ money by hiring qualified advisers. No one would have cared a bit if you pay them from your own pocket to give you crappy advice. But out of respect for our taxpayers’ money, hire the right people with our money to advise you and our government. The confederacy of the clueless quartet (Siaka Jatta, DouSanno, Henry Gomez and Saihou Mballow) you hired as a political compensation do not even know the terms of references of their employment. They have nothing to offer and that’s one reason they keep verbally assaulting anyone critical of you and your government. It is not their job to defend you and your government against critics but to advise you. As advisers they have failed woefully because they have no education or governance experience to offer. Please let them go and stop pilfering our taxpayers’ money on illiterate and brain-dead advisers. It is very disrespectful of the hard work of taxpayers for you to continue to pay incompetent advisers with our money.

Alhassan Darboe is a Gambian Communication scholar, consultant, and Real Estate businessman. He writes in from his base in U.S.A. He is currently a graduate student at Arizona State University’s Hugh Down School of Human Communication.