As unfortunate as it may sound, it appears as if the spectre of tribalism and regionalism has become a defining feature of the New Gambia in the past eight months. This is accentuated by the incendiary comments being made on online news-sites, blogs and discussion groups.
Is it possible for a country to be of one tribe? Even if the answer to this question were yes, will it develop? How boring and uninteresting it would be! Beauty lies in diversity. It is said that the beauty of a garden lies in the variety of flowers. Similarly, the beauty of a country lies in the fact that different tribes and ethnic groups come together and share the same land. This is when the people live in peace, love and harmony.
In The Gambia, we are lucky to have different tribes and ethnic groups with different traditions and cultural practices. The different languages serve as a means of communication and interaction among us. With the right approach, we can harness this boon and use it for national development. But first things first.
Our identity should be Gambian first and foremost. We are Gambians; the other traits come after this. Be you a Mandinka, a Fula, a Wolof, a Sarahule, a Serere, a Manjago or any other, you basically are a Gambian first and that should be the bottom-line.
We must understand that we have been born in the same country and have no other option but to live together as one people. This is the only way we can realise any of our collective developmental aspirations. The saying that no man is an island gives us a clue as to the fact that no one tribe can move forward without the other.
We need to come together and cultivate the idea of inclusion and have love and compassion for each other. The tribes in The Gambia are so interconnected through marriage and other social connections that it is unthinkable for one to entertain tribalism in your views.
The Constitution of the country recognises every citizen and there are no first and second-class citizens. If we want peace, progress and prosperity, we must stop seeing each other as belonging to one tribe or another. We are Gambians and that is what counts. No tribe is better than the other.
Tribalism breeds hatred and ultimately may lead to the destruction of all we have worked for. Let us build a Gambia of one people, one nation and one destiny.
This is why this newspaper, The Standard, took it upon itself two years ago, to come up with the ‘ONE GAMBIA, ONE TRIBE’ moniker! This is the one refrain we need to chorus at the top of our actions all the time!