This nation needs to engage in deep, sober, thorough, long soul searching on many issues confronting it. May be self-delusional to believe that everything is okay on every front or that with some prayers we could wish them away or make them better. These problems are man-made and so God won’t intervene until those who create them make them right themselves….
For whatever reason, we love the facade, the smokescreen, the mirage and, like the ostrich in the fables, we bury our heads in the sand and discount the reality even when it is as stark as it is evident….. We either are incapable of ill and evil or that as the only beloved people of God on earth no mishap or misfortune could befall us, engineered by a mortal. We are protected by the prayers and blessings of those ancients who walked our earth long ago. This belief, wrapped in fatalism inside reactivity, is partly responsible for the denial we indulge in as a collective. We are the most peaceable people on earth, the Smiling Coast, the most honest, the people whose prisons are full of only other Africans, the country whose criminals are non-Gambians, the people who do no wrong to their neighbours, a nation the most religious tolerant on earth, a country whose crimes are imported… It is “others”, not “us”, always. The reality only sinks in when the bubble bursts, when tragedy strikes, when the culprits are known. Then we realised albeit late that we could have done better, we should have know better….
But I digress….About soul searching, we should let the knife cut through all places, a kind of autopsy which could reveal the problem with the soul of the nation. The recent tragedy at sea, off the coast of Mauritania, which claimed young, innocent lives could have been prevented if we had learned from the past for this was not the first of its kind. The seas and desert have been callously swallowing up our brothers and sisters, and with each tragedy we would moan, bemoan, accuse, blame, commiserate and then after a while relapse to the former lethargy. I don’t know of a memory as short as that of our national memory. But no, that has always been our attitude towards tragedies, thus they repeat themselves always. Otherwise, what can explain how and why we tolerated the dictatorship and the tortures, murders, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, unfair dismissals, forced exiles? We thought they would go away by some wishes, prayers, and the unearned blessings we so proudly bandy about, underpinned by the belief that “what must be, must be”. They stayed; we became inured to them and with time, the one that heals all wounds, we forget the tragedies we were so concerned about… We get conscience stricken with another tragedy.
And about the perennial irregular migration (migration is not illegal), we must see it as an effect, not a cause. Until we find the reasons and factors behind the “why” and “whyfors”, we would be addressing effects or at best secondary causes. We may realise we are dealing with a hydra headed problem, tackling which will defy any quick fix or programmatic approach. We are dealing with the soul of the nation, for young people are not just a critical mass but form more than half of the population.
Whatever sustainable, durable, long term solutions the Government with come up with, let young people be at the heart of the discourse and let their aspirations guide whatever systems wide approach to be employed. No good architect would be a house without asking those who would live in it. Let premium be put on education, vocational and livelihood and on the sciences. Education sets the pace for a country development. Investment in education, of quality, is a determinant of the level of development.
And lastly, no nation progresses which loves to wallow in denial, fails to confront the realities of its time, or thinks with abracadabra every problem will go away.
Desperate situation doesn’t necessarily require a desperate solution, especially one which defies quick fix. Long term, durable, sustainable, system wide approaches are needed to tack hydra headed problems.
Young people or youth must be at heart of every and any solution or strategy identified. They who feel it, know it.
Mark us this words of Albert Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”