With Aicha Well, wasn’t that a good beginning of an article? You should know me by now so there is always something on my mind that might make you jump a little. These four letters K.I.S.S. are an acronym. Hands up all of you who know what an acronym is! Sorry, the teacher in me took over for some seconds and I must admit that acronym is not a word I use often. I even had to look it up in a dictionary and this is what it says: “An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation (shortening) from the initial components in a phrase or a word. Usually individual letters, like in NATO or syllables (like this very long acronym: USA PATRIOT ACT, which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) You might recognise some of the acronyms below. These are only some examples, there are a lot more and more will be created as time goes by. What is so special with acronyms is that they become useful around the world. They are easy to learn and people use them in their communication. It doesn’t matter if somebody is living in Australia and that one is chatting with someone else in the UK, if they use the same acronyms they understand each other. So what does KISS stand for? It stands for: Keep It Simple Silly By using the first letter in each word you get the acronym KISS and you suddenly get a message. There are some variations on this message, it might sound a little bit harsh to use the word silly at the end. The variations are : Keep It Sweet & Simple or Keep It Short & Simple So are we trying to urge someone else with a KISS? More than you think, actually. Every time you see a billboard or an add in a newspaper or even the topic of my articles you get a KISS. Isn’t that nice? We can joke a little about it, but it can actually be something more serious than you first might believe. Using KISS as a method is an efficient way of getting someone’s attention. You see something that catches your eye and your subconscious mind begins to work to analyse the message given. Several years ago I saw billboard after billboard with this following message: NG LI. That is not a message! Your mind objects immediately and these four letters begin to scuff your mind like sand in your shoe. You try to let it go but every time you see the same message your mind is on it again. Many years ago I decided not to let my mind register commercials and adds in newspapers. I just hate when TV programmes or movies are interrupted by commercials so I decided to not buy any of the stuff these companies are trying to tempt me with. I want to decide myself what to buy or avoid, I don’t want to be more or less forced by somebody else. For a stubborn mind like mine, the message in a commercial, billboard or add must be cleverly done, otherwise my brain will only sort it out as rubbish. This add, NG LI, was playing with my mind for a while until I understood what it was. It was an add for a ferry operator called Viking Line that has ferries traveling between Sweden and Finland. Take the two last letters in Viking and the two first in Line and you have NG LI. Very smart indeed! It was so simple and yet so advanced because I wasn’t the only one who had been reacting on it. Most of the times commercials are not an object for discussion among people, but this one was because it was so clever. It is still in use, several years after it had been launched. Short and catchy messages have been used through the times, they began with the printing of newspapers and have developed more and more. The use of language has also developed and some kind of messages we can see today were unthinkable maybe 20 years ago. The kind of messages of course depends on the country and the culture there. For me, it would be hard to believe that it is okay to speak openly about sex on the pages of newspapers in The Gambia. Unfortunately, it is not rare in other countries and I remember how embarrassed I was when my kids were young and asked me why there were certain words on the placards. When someone wants to sell their message sometimes it seems as every mean is allowed. The use of acronyms or catchy short words combined catches the eye and you begin to wrap your mind around the message even if you don’t want to. These kinds of messages are kind of sticky and hard to get rid of, and that is just the point! They are supposed to stick and bug your mind so your subconscious mind finally tells you that it would be a smart idea to buy or use a certain product. Some of these messages grow slowly and it can take a while before they are ”in full bloom.” They are like have been bitten by some kind of nasty bug and become infected with a virus. That kind of virus will affect your body, but the acronym-virus will affect your mind instead and make you find the product irresistible. Acronyms are not only used in commercials, several famous politicians and leaders use them too. They want their messages to penetrate people’s minds so they will find the message irresistible. Most people wish easy solutions for their problems, they don’t want to have long answers for short questions. No, short and said with a forceful tone then you can convince anyone anything. That is a method Donald Trump is using. He speaks in a loud voice, using short messages and he seems to have a master’s degree in mass psychosis. He is using loud and stirring music to pump up the emotions and to create a certain atmosphere that is in a way hypnotising the crowd before they even begin to listen to his message. Donald Trump knows how to manipulate the masses and we must remember that the crowds he is gathering are shallow people. People with analysing minds, the ”why-people” as I call them, are not to be found in the crowds gathering around Donald Trump. President Trump likes to hold large gatherings, he is more of an actor than a leader for a large country and he loves to be on stage. Actually, the gatherings are not particularly large, it is instead a matter of camera angles and to not showing the surroundings. If you only show a stage and you press a crowd of people together on that stage it looks like there are a lot of people listening to Donald Trump. It is a strange custom I think, why having a lot of people standing behind you when you hold a speech? Normally the crowd is standing in front of the speaker, but if that would be the case when the Donald is speaking you would be seeing that there are not a lot of people in the audience. When Trump is speaking there is a whole of a lot going on around him. There are staff telling the audience when to cheer and applaud, staff are placing ”the right people” behind Donald Trump and these are told how to behave. If they don’t cheer and look enthusiastic enough they get replaced by somebody else who obeys the Trumpian code of conduct. Mr Trump loves to repeat himself, and a lot of his followers actually love his limited vocabulary. They say that they appreciate to have a president who can speak ”as normal people.” The thing with Trump is that he doesn’t have a deep political message to share with his voters. He is hiding his shallowness behind repeating and shouting, making gestures and strange faces. The level of education is very low in many parts of the US and that is making people feel intimidated when they don’t understand what their leaders are saying. Getting easy messages like ”Make America great again” is making people feel a sense of hope. They shout it together, they buy baseball caps or T shirts with that message and feel like a part of something bigger. How America is going to become great again is a question that still remains. Uneducated people prefer to trust that the president knows what he is speaking about, otherwise he wouldn’t have been the president, or? They don’t see the political play that goes on in the background, that Donald Trump is a puppet. People stronger, smarter and more convincing than him are holding the strings. They encourage this small-minded and vain man to believe that he can achieve great things for America. Donald Trump hasn’t understood that the key to succeed as a leader is that you must be able to collaborate with others. We depend on each other all over the world and there are no easy solutions for difficult matters. Putting yourself on a pedestal, speaking about yourself as the only one who has the answers and the solutions, neglecting other people’s opinions and advice, backstabbing people and spreading lies doesn’t make anyone a great leader, it is causing distress and chaos instead. A newspaper, a magazine or a company can use short and catchy messages to get attention, but you can’t run a country like that. God gave us two ears and only one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak. All of us are created with different qualities, that is our gifts and we are obliged to make the best of it. One of the qualities Donald Trump says doesn’t exist anywhere in Africa is the usage of the brain. He has sad that people from Africa are coming from “shit-hole countries” and that message has been swallowed in its whole by Mr Trump’s followers. They haven’t learned anything about source criticism, to stop, react and find out the truth behind the message. Source criticism is crucial to use, no matter if we speak about commercials or political messages. We shouldn’t be sitting like baby birds with our beaks open and be fed with whatever someone wish to give us. If you get something in your mouth that has a bad taste you spit it out. Learn to do the same with given messages. Don’t let them sink in without reflection, use the greatest gift God has given you – your brain – and consider the message for a while. If the message gives you a bad feeling, don’t swallow it without questioning. Ask yourself if you like the message, is it bad or sweet like a true kiss?]]>
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By Omar Bah The leader of the United Democratic Party has warned against what he called the government's plan to register non-Gambians on the pretense...
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