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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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Ousainou and Hamat at Buffer Zone

Dear editor,
Sometimes, it’s not what you say or what you do that is necessarily wrong or right, it’s all about how you say or do it. It’s the perception of our audience or what some refer to as court of public opinion that can skew a right into a wrong or a wrong into a right. Ousainou and Hamat could have been donating blood to Jaliba and his band and some of us will find issue with it. On the same token, they could have jumped on stage and donated 57 (Sana Sarr’s favorite number) vehicles and some of us will justify and defend it as part of our culture. Whether the culture is wasteful or sends a bad message is immaterial to those defenders. But if you found reason to condemn Jammeh for something, and yet you’re constantly defending the same act because it’s Barrow, that’s the apogee of political hypocrisy!

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Speaking of culture and tradition, what is the traditional or cultural basis of dissing out money to the griots? What is the message that the one dissing out money is trying to send the griot? Is she/he saying I have so much money that I can make it rain? Or are they saying, your song about me is so touching and I must reward you accordingly – commensurate with my wealth? We claim to be good Muslims and Christians, what does our religions say about flaunting your wealth? Is it ok for leaders that preside over a destitute population that is yet to heal from 22 years of thievery to be throwing money at an unprincipled musician? Does something being cultural or traditional mean it is always right?

What if instead of hosting a musical jamboree replete with Barrow Youths Group or what have you, was squashed and a symposium of sorts was organized with the youths where Barrow and his government take stock of the past year and seek prayers for a better year ahead? What if the occasion was used to meet with victims and their families or just a simple speech from Barrow to tell us where we are and where we are headed? If you’re poor, it behooves you to act poor! Must everything we do be about singing and dancing and dissing out money?

Watching the video, one can argue that while Ousainou was measured in his manner of giving, the irrational exuberance that Hamat exhibited is clownish at best and insensitive at worst. Leadership comes with certain expectations none more so important than the perceptions of those you lead. When they’re destitute and can’t afford three square meals a day, you mustn’t blame them if they chide you for throwing money at a griot. Cultural or not, it reeks of insensitivity to their destitution. The message we send to those watching us is not only about what we do or say, it’s also about how we do or say it. That’s why they say: Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you say!
Eden Sharp
Banjul

“Let us stop the culture of rewarding corrupt leaders with public office”
Dear editor,
Freedom fighters rarely remain fighters after tasting power. In many cases they turn to dictatorship and find comfort in corruption. But the worst ones are those who do not achieve power of their own but survive in its periphery. Thus, the rumors depressing my soul right now: President Adama Barrow’s silence and in private intimations about the fifty-seven vehicles donated to our Parliamentarians by a faceless donor & also decided to keep the surreptitious removal of a coalition partner and party leader from office for unknown reasons is mindboggling. When leaders get too used to applause from their followers, they start to believe in their own myth. They see themselves spotting a halo, one they imagine bestows unusual insight on them.
From what I have been reading and saw on Facebook, the “Buffer Zone Drama” I thought it was just the “rest of Gambians” feeling the pain of corruption and economic mismanagement.

Political leaders that pretend to serve the populace while enriching themselves & their supporters on our backs. Both propose increased government spending, both have placed ethnic identity at the center of their campaigns. No one is talking about housing, electricity, taxes, employment? or a whole lot of issues of interest to me. To go to the ballots would be to legitimize an extremely flawed & disingenuous system.
Fiscal indiscipline, wastage of public funds and excessive borrowing from the domestic market, are the pivotal contributors to high interest rates. In one sentence, Tactical Alliance government has performed poorly in the management of the economy.

No amount of PR gimmicks can negate this fact. Almost one year, I hope Gambians will know against incompetence and mediocre leadership, whose only success is false ethnic pride.
We should stop rewarding leaders whose only interest is preserving the status quo, where the poor remain poor and the elite plunder national resources for the benefit of friends and immediate family. Let us stop the culture of rewarding corrupt leaders with public office. Let us stop glorifying people who have a track record of plunder under the guise of “hustling.” Let us stop the culture of tribal kingpins for they use the collective ignorance of their respective communities for self-preservation.
All tribal kingpins are just economic criminals, who have negotiated their way to power by intimidating the organs of state, including the judiciary.

State leadership is not defined by the number of photos opportunities on the lawns if State House with local and foreign leaders. Success of State leadership is not defined by how many international conferences or visiting Heads of State a Nation can host. The leadership of a State nation is first a foremost obligated to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens.
Alagie Yorro Jallow
New York City

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