“Marry as many wives as possible” in a recent statement by the minister of the second most important economic office of The Gambia is politically discomforting and an oppressive language a modern political figure will ever use on women. But such miscalculated religious and traditional fundamentalism has no space in our political landscape and must be discouraged by all citizens. Such speeches are masqueraded with personal and religious moralities which cannot have any dominant space in our way to democracy and self-determination.
The Minister of Tourism would have better told us who he thinks he is to use such an authoritative language on women. To consider women as equal partners in nation building will have to do with empowering them with the basic needs and skills they need for their own advancement.
Mr Bah has used that religious occasion to manifest transparently the place he sees or vehemently believed women belong and has gone up to an extent of calling on all men to radical self-determination on women. In fact, to this extent, he has not only exposed to Gambian women his hypothesized notions of gender equality, he also at the most inappropriate time, advanced his masculine supremacy on women.
The tourism minister sees women in our society as a complement to men’s accomplishment by telling Gambians in the diaspora to come back home simply because they need to marry and should “marry as many as possible” can best be seen as male arrogance and tendency to own the language to be used in public discourses. Such a self-authorship declaration cannot be the principle of any political party or leadership or the position of any political leader in a public office. His stance must be immediately clarified as a matter of national concern if we are interested in any gender equality and equity. Such actions are terrifying and at the same time appealing especially at a time when women for the first time should have all the opportunities to stand for themselves.
Who told Mr Bah to speak on/for women?
As the minister of tourism, we would expect Mr Bah to tell us his ministry’s stand to empower women rather than expect them to be accomplishments in the lives of men. Such a statement is immoral and disempowering from a political leader and public official of a ministry that would have had better mechanisms in presenting equal opportunities for women and men. The status of women as conceptually established by shows is own negative prejudices towards our mothers and sisters. It is really unfortunate that we still harbour some of these terrifying masculine threats in our communities and think women are safe. We will never attain any development with such a retarded paradigm of political philosophy. Mr Bah must have borrowed his political values from the Roman Empire –when women were used as means to men’s ends –the metaphor of our political condition.
We must begin to develop a political vocabulary that would empire all genders and which will see all genders as equals in defining our own destinies. To assume that the role of women in our society is principally for procreation or marriage is both stupid and embarrassing. The notion of success cannot be exclusively connected to marriage and procreation. That will be a very biased and self-defeating political approach. Who is the tourism minister to play the role of the moral buster when we are yet to see any concreate development in his industry. He could have presented Gambians with a focused project of his ministry on how it wishes to empower all Gambians who had to take the hazardous journey outside our own borders. It could also do the same for women whose lives he falsely claimed to be preoccupied with.
My sincerest recommendation for Mr Bah will be for his ministry to come up with concrete plans to tackle the pressing needs of the tourism sector which according to trustworthy statistics is decaying. The tourists markets are disappearing out of sights leaving many young Gambians unemployed and as a consequence compelling them into other adventures. The declining of our GDP is supported by a lot of administrational incompetence within the previous administrations and which Mr Bah if he cares should better address and leave the role of religious fundamentalism to some fanatics who take pleasure talking down on women. It is not his role to say where women of our society should be positioned –not even the government can appropriately assume that role – women will have to define their roles and positions in our society as they wish.
Hamat Bah cannot make any greater mistake than he has already made–calling on me to The Gambia –to marry and procreate because he thinks that is both religious and saver. That statement is simple and a deliberate manifestation of ignorance and unfounded optimism on his part. He wishes to create some unworthy attention to his own unproductivity since four months in office. As a proud citizen of The Gambia, I do not think our political leaders will be so retarded in thinking as to the extent of imposing their personal moralities on its citizen. That Mr Bah, a political figure and the minister for the second most productive or important sector of our economy will confidently think in such an unrealistic and closed scream way is a serious alarm to the countrymen. It is totally a challenge on him after this misfortunate pronouncement, for Mr Bah to manifest that he is calling on me and all Gambian citizens in whatsoever conditions we find ourselves back to the Gambia because, life possible outside The Gambia is now not only imaginable but also possible within our own borders. But, even if such a claim cannot be easily defended by Mr Bah given the present nature of his own industry and the already misappropriation of many resources and actions by the Coalition Government, we would better expect him to call on Gambians not by inducing them to his own moralities (either religious or cultural). For religious teachings, we have schools, mosques and other people in society who can better assume that role. But even a religious leader who makes such pronouncement nowadays, will be at best regarded as a fundamentalist masquerading his own wishes on others without any scientific evidence whatsoever.
Where is it written that marriage necessarily leads to happiness and more than one wife guarantees the welfare of women? Will Mr Bah allow his children to fundamentally measure their successes by number of husbands or wives they are willing to marry? I do not think so, but if he definitely does as manifested in his recent ill-advised calling on me and other Gambians to go and marry as many wives as possible, is strongly disrespectful and unpleasable especially from him. His could have represented his ministry with a progressive rhetoric unconnected whatsoever to marriage for the general wellbeing of all.
Mr Bah must know that marriage is not the main objective of my life nor is procreation. The minister of tourism has transgressed into private boundaries without any careful consideration of the disturbances he might cause. He recent trumpeting is not only a misguided ideology but a way of talking about things that do not matter. Things that are and should be a matter of preference –each doing it according to his/her most convenient way. To be silent on such discourses as citizens will be the introduction of an orthodoxy in a secular state that is finding it difficult to interpret democracy and attend to matters of public goals and concern.
Why marriage? Is it not bringing others into harm?
The assumption that passing on our genes to others through marriage can only be good and a sign of human superiority is appropriately mistaken. To speak against a strong held belief like marriage that continues to harm generations but which is nearly unanimously seen as good and as a human speciality, is nonsensical. Human procreation is being seen as a necessity and no matter what it must happen! Such miscounted adventures are generally of little good to the human kind and of 100 percent harm to those we bring into being. One strong justification why we procreate is not because of love for humanity (or the children we bring into being) but because of our own overestimated selfish interests we might never attain. Since we cannot determine the material and spiritual preferences of our unborn children, we cannot claim to love them. So, we only procreate to pass on the generational harms we bore and that we see it necessary to be passed on. Therefore, since we cannot for certain create a material and spiritual paradise for those we want to bring to being, it is wrong to procreate at the first place. This long held protective taboo does continue to harm us even deeper, the more we bring into existence those lives we know nothing about or can do anything sufficient to confront the harms they will have to bear when they are allowed to exist, man must not procreate at all and if she should marry, it must not be based on the irrational traditional conception of marrying for procreation.
Men, in as long as they can impregnate and women, in as long as they can conceive, the two most of the times take sex basically for procreative motives. Why? And what if there is any, the ramifications of this fallacious pattern of generational stupidity? To procreate is to be certain that the person one wants to bring into existence will live well without any harm whatsoever. And if we do believe for certain that our children will not survive in a perfect and tranquil paradise on earth where they are able to attain what they want, then we are merely producing more harm by bringing them into existence. Procreation is a battle in an already overcrowded world where even if there can be a perfect market distribution of resources, certainly, not all will be better-off.
My thesis is not grounded on any dislike whatsoever for children but in fact, my profound love for children not to exist at all, so that, they are safe from pointless possible harms that will certainly happen to them for the mere sake of their coming into being. But even educated and rich parents cannot calculate more than their egotistic aggregate satisfaction for procreation. And supporting procreation on religious and social grounds is a sign of immaturity in a world that is literally busting at the seams. Busting at the seams in economic, social and environmental terms. We are simply procreating without having to think critically whether or not we are causing more harm than good if we bring others into mere existence. The transcendental nonsense that continue to teach us that it is well and fine to procreate are fundamentalists whose existence in the first place should be seen as a mistake by the generations before them. For the fact that we procreate and educate our children in our own ways, is induction into their freewill and not scientifically arguable to be of any good to the child. Those who do not exist know absolutely nothing about harm. Since they do not exist, at the sight of a problematic world like ours, it is better not to have existed and will be a great and avoidable mistake and a harm to procreate. Not only are we not able to guarantee the perfect happiness of others we want to bring into being, it is also impossible for us to predict what they would like and to suppose that we (will) know what the world should look like for them is a traditional malpractice never studied to manifest how the living could have been well-off had we not populated this little endangered space of ours called the planet earth.
By Alagie Jinkang