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City of Banjul
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Prove champion

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Earlier this week, my mind was moved back a couple of years (actually more than a couple) to the months of transition following July 22nd 1994. I remember even as a child how those months that followed were those of uncertainty and doubt. They were the months of rumors, silent whispers and lashing tongues. Even as a child going to primary school back then (yes I am that young so do ignore the lengthy moustache), I can remember that ironically, it was an age where corruption and neglect of duty was a rarity. Everyone was unsure!

Growing up years later, I remember His Excellency The President making his surprise visits to institutions, market centers, municipal councils etc as his broom swept through the streets of Jollof (I believe the term was later coined “electric broom”). Even as many understood the necessity of such a tactic, I was always baffled at why an adult population needed babysitting. I mean, grown men put in charge of offices which our economy depends on have to be told what to do, to do it?

I am sure you have felt the trend no matter how young you are. It is the same trend no matter where you work in or where your affiliations lie. We live in a society that is so overburdened with fakeness and “proving champion” (I stole the term but do feel free to use it) that it is actually our biggest weakness. Soon after the “electric broom” gets turned on, our offices get cleaned up, corruption goes on the low, “bosses” get to work on time, papers get filed properly… It is a sad façade of sorts which shows exactly the kind of people we have turned out to be.

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I remember a while back when I approached an institution for some assistance for an event I was working on. I chose to mention this now because I believe it will bring little or no harm to the individual concerned. The person who had a lot of respect for me in the past and with whom I always had a good relationship with, to my face, informed me that even though he would have supported my cause, he had heard rumors that I had an issue with the government and would therefore not support my cause. He might not have put it in so many words but his message was clear. I was unaware of the issue he had learnt of and still remain confused as to what he had meant. Now that is the Red Black Nonsense I speak of today.

It is the same attitude you see at public gatherings but my experience has taught me reality. Our perceptions have led us to believe that men in Armani Suits and “Nyeti Abdous” sitting on the front rows of Gambian events are indeed patrons when a lot of them simply want to be seen on television just so The President will believe they are supporting young people and worthy causes. Most of these men wear their robes of pride only to benefit from the sweat, blood and tears of a genuine population without supporting zilch. Lolu defa wara jeex nak laygi.

I also had an encounter years ago when a certain relative of mine approached me for us to work on a business idea. According to him, my idea had to go political for him to support it financially. I bade him farewell, we shook hands and we never discussed business again. A year or two later, he had achieved exactly what he wanted all along; a posh seat in a government office and the confidence and trust of the executive. Wai dega mor day mujay!

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Our society is riddled with fakeness. The fake identities have crept so far into our system that the youngest of people have embraced this belief. Whenever our President or the Executive are at a gathering, you’d be surprised to see the people who would become philanthropists overnight, sporting their gowns and trying to show that they are always in support of good causes when these same people shut doors and deliberately refuse any support they could have given had a camera been in their offices. 

Luckily for me, I have been able to identify the fake from the real but unfortunately for most, that battle is still ongoing. The Gambia is a difficult country to find genuine people. It is a reality we must accept or otherwise settle for doom and destruction. 

Have you not seen this on Facebook? Have you not seen the comments underneath photos of girls in need of the fashion police go, “toch nga fi”. This is not an issue of maslaha but rather a fakeness that just runs deep. 

Recently going through facebook, I noticed a very influential social media commentator talks of our culture of bringing our women down; a fact I must say. What she failed to mention was the fake smile that accompanied the knife to the back. Whilst we post nice comments underneath a facebook picture, we’re the same people making fun of the person in question behind out computer screens and NAWEC lit rooms.

Like I said when I started this piece, this is not about politics. This is about the truth that engulfs our culture. This truth has messed up companies, government institutions, relationships, personalities and indeed lives of all sorts. We have seen these truths in our Churches when the biggest of misers suddenly become philanthropists when they know their names will be announced at the pulpit. We have seen these truths at our social gatherings when the guewel begins his/her songs of praise. We have seen these truths at our political gatherings when the fakest of people force that attitude of “goodness” just for the eyes of the Head of State when the people actually see the move. Dega mor day mujay!

There is a Persian tale of an old man on his death bed who gave his sons gifts. To the first he gave all the wealth that he had accumulated of the years. To the second he gave all his lands. To the third son he gave a box with a paper hidden inside. Years after his death, the first son had squandered all his inheritance and was left a pauper in the streets; the second sold all his father’s lands and was left homeless whilst the third acquired everything his father had left behind. When asked how he had managed to get that far, he opened the box and in it laid the paper he had been gifted. The paper read, “I have disposed of all my evil to those that cannot count; and I live my greatest gift to him whose heart is pure. Honesty, Truth, Belief”

In as few words as possible, the father had inspired his son to become a symbol of his legacy. These words unfortunately have become as rare as dragons and their absence have left us empty, without pride and dead. A man whose generosity is for the eyes of the world deserves the darkest depths of hell. He is no better than the man for whom generosity is a sin. A man who gives however simply because he feels it is the right thing to do has done a great thing. We know the givers in this country of ours. There are those that give wisdom, those that give love and those that give wealth. It has taken a while but we have come to tell the difference. 

A friend and brother of mine came to me recently with a very promising project seeking advice as he had decided to forward it to the President’s Office for any form of support. Coming from a confusing background however, he was unsure of how his people would see this. My advice to him was simple. Seeking help is inevitable. If people don’t want a “certain office” to give you assistance for their own reasons, political or not, then they should be ready to replace that assistance with theirs.

Deka bi nityi denj lakaleh teh barri wakh! Bu ken sornal moromam! Everywhere people are “proving champion”. Dawal motor teh amunj essence. Sunj gaynay di sanseh, bunj dugay di ponseh!

The fakeness has taken over and one would be wise to read through the lines not to fall victim to the tongues of men that bear no truth… and the truth shall set you free… wala?



By Latirr Carr


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