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City of Banjul
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Lost hope

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Aisha Jallow

One step forward and two steps back, isn’t that a picture of The Gambia? Not much has improved during the five years of democracy. This needs to be repeated until change will come. Change must come because the current situation is unacceptable. Most people struggle to make ends meet, mothers cry because they can’t feed their children, fathers hide their tears as they don’t want to worry their families. The prices of all your basic needs are increasing all the time, but the salaries are still at the same low level as before.

Depression is a stigma, it is the hidden truth we don’t speak about, but still it’s there. As long as depression is considered a stigma, people will not get professional help in this area. There is no trained psychologist in the whole country, no discussions going on to find ways of helping people handle their despair. We can’t hide this problem forever as it will become an ulcer that will burst.

Living a life which is more a matter of merely existing, causes depression.

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The daily struggle for everything leads to stress which causes depression. This is a normal process and nothing to be ashamed of. If anyone should be ashamed, it ought to be them who have the means to change your lives for the better, but they don’t care about you. The only thing they care about is to remain in power and to fool you to vote for them and/or their party in the coming election. Promises pour out from their mouths like a waterfall, but leave you with the bare reality afterwards.

There are so many victims in The Gambia, some are victims of the atrocities committed by Yahya Jammeh and his ilks, others are victims of their own stupidity.

Look at NPP and APRC and their alliance of mutual love. Who are the most foolish in this game? Do they really believe that there will come something good out of it? Fools go hand in hand with the evil and still believe that the shit won’t rub off and contaminate them? Is there no bottom level for how low someone is willing to sink to cling on to power? When Barrow came to power, he promised to deal with the evil that had been done to the Gambians. Yet another promise that has been flushed down the drain.

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Instead of showing his people respect, he has been planning a scheme in secret.

It takes time to form a party, to convince people to follow your lead and to make them feel that they will gain a lot from it. We are speaking about people who are so hungry for power that they are willing to sell their souls to the devil just to be sure that they will be able to stay at the top. It doesn’t bother them that the hill they stand on consists of the bodies of their dead ancestors, their brothers and sisters who died in their fight for freedom.

It seems to be easy to forget the past as soon as someone has reached a higher level in the society. When you sit in a comfortable car, the airconditioning is on, and you can rush through the crowds of struggling Gambians, you are not anymore bothered with other’s whereabouts. The stress caused by endless queues on the few and lousy roads is nothing for those who has made it their main task to not care anymore.

The Gambia has been marketed as The Smiling Coast of Africa for many years. Your ability to keep on smiling, though your hardships, is amazing but what is hiding behind the smile? You have the great ability of being able to smile, after all, and not only because of something. One way of handling hardship is to share it with others. You don’t have to pretend that your life is easier than others, as you all live so closely and it’s not easy to hide how you live. The only thing you can hide is how you feel deep inside.

Determined to survive, you put one foot in front of the other and walk at the same pace as others. Your eye is on the ground, wary not to stumble and fall. Your physical fall is caused by potholes and broken tiles that stick up in the sand. Your mental fall is caused by a sense of hopelessness, a stress caused by the endless worries of how to manage through the day. It is not easy to plan anything for the given day, as you never know at what time you will reach somewhere. You lose time, but you also lose energy and your spirit. How is it possible to smile through your despair? Is your smile perhaps what makes it possible to survive?

In my mind I see an image from a history book about the slave trade. I see African people, tied to each other, walking in a line and trying not to fall. In their fall they will pull others with them, causing a lot of commotion and pain. The slaves had their eye to the ground, put one foot in front of the other. The guards took every opportunity to beat the slaves, kept them in fear and narrowed their minds. Souls as well as bodies were broken down so the slaves were unable to resist. Fear can do a lot to a human being, and it can even affect us in a way that we lose our sense of self worth. Can you see the historical parallells? You are not tied with ropes and shackles anymore, but the mental ropes are still there.

This is cut from a blog from the website of Joan Trompauer Mulholland Foundation:

”Slave mentality” is a phrase packed with a lot of meaning. It’s a disease inflicted by America. On the one hand, it is the perception that one merely accepted slavery as their lot in life. It’s realizing that things are never going to get any better. It’s a recognition of your bondage and trying to make the best out of the worst… out of beatings, rapes, whippings, constant exhaustion, near starvation and brutal lynchings. You get by to survive. Naturally, there were many who, mentally, had given up even if their hearts yearned for freedom. How could you not? However, lest we forget, there were those who were enslaved that rose up and revolted against their oppressors. They would not give in and instead fought to free themselves and others.”

The Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation exists to end racism through education.

Founded in 2014, it began with a goal to educate people about the Civil Rights Movement and how they can make a difference in their community.

Through their work, they have found that the most effective way to change racist ideology is to begin with education. Racism is a learned behavior. Adults and children alike can benefit from a change in perspective and an increased awareness of the past.

This is also my goal, to change perspectives and increase awareness through my articles. There is a sense of security in what you know well; your family, your village, your tribe. You vote for what you know, there are no guarantees that things will become better, but you hope that it wouldn’t at least become worse. With your eye to the ground it is hard to change perspective, but try to do that for a while. Ask yourself – what is your worth? Should you settle with a life in despair, or should you strive for something better? Your lost hope can be found again if you keep on looking for it.

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