By Toney F Mendy
Some colleagues, mates, and friends won’t concede in their futile efforts to convince me that “God chooses leaders” just like I would not relent on flushing out the argument that “Ya Allah mor tannah Adama Barrow” (God chose Adama Barrow) to be president. This issue has not merely led me against others to the controversial topic of Destiny and Will, but it has on several occasions landed me into contentious religious arguments.
In history, you have many examples of leaders in Africa who would, for the ignorance of the mass, exploit them through the psychology of religion for political scores. But there is hope in this society that is now moving toward being guided in thought by social reflexivity and secularism.
The Gambian society is one that would nurture an individual in the stern belief that leaders are God made. That they are literally supposed to be venerated in all instances. We are supposed to obey them, and not contest their ideas or actions. Time has equally proven that religion is an empowering tool to that effect. The immediate consequence that stems from such is that, our leaders turn out to be atrocious, regrettably to our detriment.
It is my argument and conclusion that, even while Africa claims to have broken off from the shackles of slavery, mental slavery survives, of which religion remains one of the contributors that muffle her development, and rob her of all that it envies of the world. While religion attributes perfection to itself, it remains to genuinely be seen how anyone would unearth appreciation without noting some defects in it. To direct, I do not mean to argue against the relevance of religion but the decolonisation of the African cannot be complete without the interrogation of religion and some of its teachings in the folders of Islam and Christian.
Indeed, I am no George H Smith, and I have no “case against God”! However, let me remind us that man ceases to be man, adopts an animalistic character from the day he failed to make use of his brain, his thinking knack, and consumes collective ideas from the society without interrogating such ideas. Society is the biggest prison and dictator of the human mind.
As the waves of tyranny taxi around to reinstitute itself in The Gambia, the relationship between religion and politics would be yet another instrument prone to exploitation by politicians. It is not surprising therefore, to hear the unapprised President Barrow caution that ONLY GOD can remove him from power. Worst, his [wo]man Friday would even go further to equate the president with God that “Anyone who goes against Barrow goes against God”. Let me scrounge the enduring, and quiet nature of God and ignore those pitiful utterances.
However, one thing I won’t ignore is the preeminence of the people. Gambians must wake up to the reality that the definitive power to decide who steers their affairs is in their hands. If God will ever decide through Gambians, through the ballot box, it should then be taken therefore, that collectively, we are the holders of God’s voter’s card, but such is just the probable wishful thinking that the moderate fundamentalist may put forward, oh lest I forget vox populi, vox Dei!
The world shall ever speak ill of certain leaderships, because of the obvious scare and revulsion they have inflicted on humanity, on innocent children and on women. Those leaders are definitely not the making of God but constructs of the collective submission of society to a certain pattern of reasoning and or a defeat of the societal consent. Unless you want to tell Jack he will meet up in Heaven with Adolf Hitler and all the headmen of the tragic holocaust episode of human history!
There has never been any breed of humankind as inconsistent and unreliable as the politician. Take for illustration, the same president who had the fortitude to lie to an entire nation (3 years manifesto, sold to the people), is acting forgetful of the verity that the same God he is referring to despise lies! But we, I mean we, are we different? Do we comprehend and respect the supreme we are? Are we not the ones who mold them and applaud their actions, even those that are against the same God they persistently refer us to?
In the event that the president doubts that we are the holders of God’s voter’s card, l challenge him not to approach us in 2021 election campaign. Let him go to the mosque or church and pray for votes, it would be any opportunity to save us from yet another bouquet of empty promises. The grave repercussions that would emanate thereof would be a lifelong bitter lesson for him. Yahya Jammeh is yet a fresh point for the purpose of reference.
Now I must note that, when leaders muster the courage to present themselves as demigods, or when they began to exhibit what PLO Lumumba called the messiah syndrome, it immediately becomes a collective obligation upon us to diagnose them, and there is no better way of doing so than in speaking truth to power.
It is 54 years, The Gambia deserves better! The frivolity of a state on its subjects, particularly on its basic responsibility is the biggest manifestation of a state or government’s incompetency that ever occupied the human creative faculty. A state that cannot in effect provide for the essential ingredients required to manure and usher the society into its desired state is not in shape to be labeled a state or a government. It requires a qualifier, such as ‘failed’ to appropriately address it: “failed state”.
We aren’t far from such truth because the streets of The Gambia are in fundamental nature, a theatre that persistently displays to an uninformed audience, the realities of the failures of a nation, an audience that is blinded by detrimental societal constructs. The effects of which are that the supreme Gambian is reduced to nothing but to the dictates of irresponsible governments that almost become normal since the attainment of so-called independence. We are hostile against ourselves, negligence, poverty driven, dreadful governance, wretched institutions, corruption, nepotism among other things because we continue to buy into the shameful narratives of uninformed politician such as “God put me in power”, or “only God can remove me”.
I submit that the most appropriate response to such typical utterance of the African politicians is to examine their deeds and compare and contrast it with the very teachings of the religion itself, name and shame them!
Most, if not all leaderships are a reflection of the reality of the society, a failure in which a revolution is born. Thus, it is time we created a responsible leadership, and it best starts by changing our mindsets, within.
The author, Toney F Mendy is a sophomore Law student at the University of The Gambia. He can be reached at [email protected]