Since then, my promenading of the corridors of business has been more frequent and my journey of enlightenment better tunnelled. I agreed to a repeat of the essay because even with my year of growth, my stance remains mostly unmoved.
In “The Altruist in Politics”, Cardozo places many with my train of thought in a basket of non-go-getters. Actually, I lie… Cardozo does not place my kind in a funny basket. Rather, he places those who with extreme vigour and in rather exaggerated proportions believe that all wealth must be shared in a basket of sorts; the sort which one does not in any way dream to be associated with. He calls them Impractical communists!
After the essay was originally published, I bumped into a much older friend of mine whose name is as common as the Gambian sun and was pleased to learn that he had never missed a Red Black Nonsense piece since I started having them in print. He was however dissatisfied or rather unappreciative of my view on that particular essay. According to him, I was preaching a sermon of “dedicating a life to giving alms” and that all Gambians must embrace poverty or die trying. He could not have been more mistaken. I have read too many books to conclude on our reluctance to be generous as a curse. As he spoke, I was reminded of Owen’s New Harmony “experiment” turned wrong and I smiled as he carried on with his respectful rant on my essay.
A few days later, I was seated at a restaurant when a flurry of beggars passed through each in his or her unfortunate condition. My pockets being not so deep, I had to sift through the flurry to find a deserving recipient of my change. How I came to distinguish the fake from the real is one we’re all too common with. So, I knew more than my older friend thought, the necessity to know where one’s money goes.
Today, my rant is not on the willingness or lack of therein to provide financial, moral or otherwise support to a growing generation of movers and shakers. Our country has since then grown in that area. My rant is on the frowning upon competition of any kind when competition is the one thing our nation as a whole truly needs. It is on the hypocrisy that does more to diminish our growth than aid it. It is on the double standards attached to our own kind whilst we parade our “royal holinesses” on corrupted avenues of red black nonsense. It is on the bulls…and on its dark manure-like cousin!
Everyone seems surprised at the news of the father impregnating his daughter; an evidence of the sickness in our society. You know the news I write about! You read it and you said to yourself or out loud “waai kii mor njaka xell..he should be hung and shot and hung again!”. No the sickness isn’t the one of the father but that of our society in general and its “culture of silence”. No society is as perfect as we make our Gambia seem. Focus is usually placed on the politics, but the most disturbing part of our nation’s fabric is the culture of hypocrisy.
We scream foul at young girls shaking to “Flavour” at the independence stadium when since time immemorial, our culture has been one of women displaying a different version of the same “booty shaking” at sabarrs and balfuserrs with even more revealing clothing (bechos and other obscenities)… We cry foul when one case of publicized incest hits the news when most of our homes harbour animals who rape and molest their own children and kids that have been put in their care since “atum yengulehn” and even chastise the kids that try to expose these animals. We cry foul when sex tapes are exposed of young couples “doing the do” when those same acts have been happening all over jollof since “suma time-yi maam yi” except without the digital lens of our cameras and the formula 1 speed of the internet (well not Gambian internet, but you get my mean – in my Chinese accent). So yeah (again excuse my American lingo, but you’d be surprised at the most recent additions to the English dictionary) I hate to break it to you but the world is not coming to an end. Let’s not pretend that these things are new in jollof. Xaleyi denj yaahu laegi? Sutura amatut si deka bi? Nityi denj sohorr? My friend, xaleyi denj yaagaa yaahu… si sehn maamati maamyi lenj roye… Sutura musut fay am.. ku laa jaaiye sutura mor fi gena muna wakh wahi jamburr…yeup si pet… It’s just that they have better devices now than their tongues (lips I guess…Or voice box).. Nityi denj sohorr laegi? Nityi denj yaagaa sohorr…du teye…yaaga na si deka bi…
We are all human. Like every other race/people/country in the world. The monstrosities exist here: murder, rape, sexual abuse, armed robbery, etc. They might not be as publicised as in other parts of the world; might not be as extreme as in other parts of the world but they’ve always been here. We just have to ensure they do not happen to our immediate surroundings and if everyone does his or her bit, our society will be “cleaner”. If none of you have that one cousin who your family can’t explain or none of you have that Uncle all the kids are told to avoid (or choose to avoid), then I guess you’re special.
The same disease of hypocrisy that we have attached to our lives and those of our children is the same hypocrisy that we have allowed to murk the waters of our corridors of business. We are a rare breed of people you know. How quick we are to condemn our own yet rush to support people from other nations. No, I do not write of the music scene or industry but of our generic traits and approach towards life. In our arrogant disregard for our own, we have simply turned an entire country into a nation whose economy is largely controlled by foreign businesses and individuals whilst our “Gambian big-guns” play puppet to foreign puppeteers. Every nation hopes to continue to attract FDI but no nation should be OWNED by it. It is a scary thought to see a nation’s biggest and smartest guns run around like characters in a “Tom and Jerry” flick.
Times are changing and are changing fast. Where foreign investment is a most essential pillar, we at least need a strong elite that ensures that foreign ownership is not to the detriment of the whole. Venture Capitalism is at times a necessary evil. It is human instinct to always want to be better than everyone else but it is logical to find a balance.
It is logical that foreign investors must always give back to the societies they invest in. There’s no sense in encouraging business ventures that cripple the masses. However, many would argue that if we as Gambians continue to discourage and fight each other, we have no choice but to watch foreign investors OWN US. Whilst we’re busy bickering over short skirts and sex tapes; fighting over nuances undeserving of any attention; arguing over people’s reluctance to discuss local politics; sensationalising the most trivial of matter, we have given up ground from the pre/post-colonial Modou Musa Njies and Carrolls to names I can hardly pronounce.
The private sector of Gambian entrepreneurs needs to inject creativity into their businesses. They have to bring in the smarts in a modern world which is changing fast. They have to leave legacies worthy of being left behind and have to provide platforms of support that will keep our young minds engaged and challenged. We have lost too much to the other side and whether we accept it or not, it is an ongoing battle where losing is not an option.
Denj warra waanji kebetu bi! Sunj ligueyutay waa fofu nonu njow ligueye sunj kaww. We keep marching on and those who are more interested in who’s sleeping with who can join us later
To quote Cardozo, “The builders have appealed to a future that has no warrant in the past; and fixing their gaze upon the distant dreamland, captivated by the vision there beheld, entranced by its ideal effulgence, their eyes were blinded to the real conditions of the human problem they had set before them. Their enemies have not been slow to note such weakness and mistake; and perhaps it may serve to clear up misconceptions, perhaps it may serve to lessen cant and open the way for fresh and vigorous thought, if we shall once convince ourselves that altruism cannot be the rule of life; that its logical result is the dwarfing of the individual man; and that not by the death of human personality can we hope to banish the evils of our day, and to realize the ideal of all existence, a nobler or purer life.” Yet I will add, but fresh and vigorous thought comes at a price of some form of selfless sacrifice and rising above the pettiness of man. Selfish business is a cancer and pettiness an unattractive bulge.
Author: Latirr Carr]]>