By Ebrima S. Jallow
Years had gone by, when the people of Nianija spoke with one voice, acted like one people and above all shared a common culture and tradition. The only thing that mattered was to be one of them i.e. to be a citizen of Nianija. No matter the language one spoke or the social class they belonged, once from within, you are safe and protected from any external socio-political influence. Those were the days when politics was in the hands of traditional intellectuals. Yes, people had divergent views and supported different political ideologies, yet they remained the same and managed to maintain the aged-old traditional blood relationships that carved out intimacy in their hearts as a result of centuries of evolution. These were naturally defined ancestral bonds that were held upon by generations of togetherness.
Three decades before the Jammeh-led government, life was peaceful and home sweeter than anything you could imagine. This atmosphere of existence qualified the common saying ‘there is no place like home’. It is supposed to be true; however, there are many places like home or even better. This depends on the conditions of living. For instance, when one encounters a living condition characterised by war and blood-shed or unceasing quarrels and in-fighting in one’s home, obviously, another place becomes better than home. Although, I didn’t witness much about the period in quotes, neither can I say much on my own accord, life is history told by living witnesses. I was barely six years old when the Jawara-led government was overthrown. At the ‘bantabas’, social ceremonies and even farms, elders recounted the fun, pleasures and benefits dispensed by the then PPP regime. Politics in that era was heavenly. Almost no socio-political rift came between villages or families. People politicked and laughed it off. Life went normal during and after political contentions.
On the contrary, after the take-over in 1994, a generation gap was paved. As time crept, the aged-old traditional bond of intimacy began to wear out, as the political system in the country assumed an entirely new dimension. Uniformed men took over the platform and brought in alien political approaches—politics of disintegration and segregation. Sadly, this was a system of politicking that set a brother against brother, a son against father, a daughter against mother, a brother against sister, a wife against husband and a friend against friend. Homes were set ablaze by the fire of vengeance; relationships shattered and friendships turned sour; neighbours became enemies whilst religion became a matter of political affiliation. The bond that held us together gradually weakened and finally broke off. The community that once spoke with one voice and shared the same norms and values is almost falling apart.
Nianija today is a battle field, where relationship is defined by political affiliation. Blood relations are at daggers drawn; friendship built through hypocrisy as political actors and traditional rulers look up to people who are able to garner greater support from the masses. Politics in Nianija is like a swarm of cankerworms that invades a farm of crops at its reproductive stage. Political activities have fallen in the hands of ignoramuses who know entirely nothing about its implications. These people are being bumped against one another by political pundits for their own egotism. Sadly, this is misunderstood by those involved and they are willing to lay their lives for such ignorance. When shall we realise our mistakes and hold accountable those responsible for our mess? It’s just a matter of time, because I know one day, our senses will regroup to right the wrongs committed by scoundrels in the name of politics.
In conclusion, politics is not what many termed it to be. It has been mal-defined by many who claimed to be experts on it. From observation, I see politics as a fight for popularity and societal disintegration for the purpose of creating enmity between friends and family members. This is not politics. ‘Politics is a multifaceted term that is defined differently by different people’. However, whatever the subject of its definition may be, it’s a positive one. Politics should be geared towards activities aimed at improving the socio-political and economic status of a society rather than misinformation, division and bloodshed.
All praises are due to Allah.