‘Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived,’ Machiavelli.
And the master-student of Machiavelli, grand schemer Yahya, knew these men among us and used them to accomplish his grand scheme- imposing his might through tyranny and milking the national treasury through men without conviction and scruples. These men, interestingly, had no immediate needs, that lowest base in Maslow’s hierarchy.
They were intellectuals, professionals, seasoned civil servants, accomplished entrepreneurs, venerable religious leaders, models for the young. They were men and women who had tasted at first hand Yahya’s public humiliation, rejection, torture, dismissal and imprisonment or had close relatives or friends who suffered this fate or knew about them even on the newspapers.
Some of them were bitten and beaten twice or more. And yet they went to bed with the rapist. They colluded in the rape of the treasury. They enforced illegal orders. They reported colleagues to remain “good” in the eyes of Yaya. They manipulated Yaya because they had his ears. They name dropped, were overbearing and used their powers to also humiliate, harass and dismiss others. Like Yaya. But we can exonerate these men and paint Yaya in the darkest dye. No way. They are as double faced and without values as Yaya. They are condemnable too.
Ultimately, anyone who stayed with Yahya for a period, in the corridors of his power or the higher echelon of his administration, shared his values and beliefs or upped his agenda. Men and women of conviction, men and women without prices left him at their own peril but with their heads held high.
One cannot be a “good” person in his or her private life and dine with the devil in public. Behold a hypocrite then. See insincerity personified. Such a person must never be trusted. Such a person lacks congruence, consistency, integrity and character. His or her life is a facade. Interest, not conviction, guides him or her.
Yaya and his accomplices are much of a muchness. If Yahya is evil, and he was without a scintilla of doubt, then his paws, aiders and abettors are too. Forget the degree, extent or period. Evil is evil.
We should just stop finding excuses for people. We should hold each other accountable. We should insist each takes responsibility for their deeds and misdeeds. Evil thrives because people look the other way.
To believe that names have nothing to do with our institutional development is fundamentally flawed. All names of institutions are significant and to some extent, stand to define what those institutions are, directly or otherwise. We must use our own names that sustain our culture and common visions. We have names too- and even very great ones. Unfortunately, most of our names die unnecessarily and enter into fiction. We keep names that are not good for our historical development and rubbish our own. Generally, most of those colonial names should be rechecked and rewritten. Most of us do not know the history behind them and unfortunately cannot relate any significance to them apart from the brute institutional facts we see with our eyes. Institutional names matter, there are lenses of perceptions of history and the future and some kind of a visionary and revolutionary look at/of a people’s destiny. Even local names such as Jammeh Foundation should all be changed for implicit and explicit reasons. We have to eradicate any such names (local, foreign, new and old) further from our common vision. After all, it is in those institutions we live and work for the values we want to sustain. So tell me the interrelatedness between some of those odd institutional names and national visions and blueprints, whatever. Should the names we sustain, give or take not reflect our values (institutional goals)?
Faith and morality
Faith generally means having a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Morality on the other hand, means to have principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. But are the two one in the same or are they separate? Many religions have guidelines regarding personal behavior and principles meant to guide believers in determining what’s permissible and what’s not. Also, beside religious guidelines on behavior and principles, there are legal and cultural guidelines too. These guidelines can be found in the holy books, written and oral traditions, and law books.
I learned a long time ago that faith and morality are not synonymous. I have also learned that a lot of people tend to assume that the two are one in the same. It is not because I did some deep research about the two or some psychological or philosophical studies, I only simply observed the people around me and came to my conclusion. I have seen people who are deeply religious, but morally corrupt. Their faith in God is strong, but their morality is weak – from religious leaders to ordinary people. I have also seen people who have no faith in God, but they have high moral values. Not sure exactly when, but I have stopped holding people with “faith” to a high moral ground a long time ago.
To drive my point home, I would like to point you to the recent happenings in the Gambia and what we have all witnessed. Religious leaders mortgaging their souls to the devil, officials abandoning their duties, and community leaders betraying the trust of their people, for temporary material gain. A broken moral compass that needs fixing maybe? Every time I get a glimpse of the commission’s proceedings, my jaw drops further to the ground. I am not by any means a moral police and I do not claim to be more morally upright than any one, but there are certain things I just will not do regardless of my faith; my personal moral compass will not allow me to. Some people will tell you “I know such and he or she is a person of faith and goodness”; but goodness, according to Dennis Prager, is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, and moral courage. More importantly though, it is about how we treat other people. At the end of the day, Yallah ken duko gom beh parey yapp kor. Du dem!