Schadenfreude, or the joy of harm

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With Aisha Jallow

In Sweden we have an expression saying: “The joy of harm is the only true joy”.

Does that sound strange to you? This feeling is not national, so I am sure you are familiar with it. We could just look at the 22 years of terror, where you were happy as long as no one harmed you or your loved ones. Remember the times when you didn’t know who to confide in, perhaps you yourself had shared some kind of “information” about someone else that you didn’t like. You enjoyed seeing that person get in trouble, because that person had troubled you somehow. Of course you didn’t want that person to become a prisoner, or even killed, but that was a risk that was taken. The best thing was to not think too much about it, what happened, happened and it was probably the will of Allah anyway.

If we could have a conversation with God, and hear Him reply, I am not sure He would approve of everything we blame Him for. God is a loving God, not a vengeful power Who will hit us with His punishments like a flash in a storm. Those of you who believe in a place called hell should know that we are already creating this place for each other. For 22 years, so many of you experienced living in hell, and the only way of surviving it was to get used to it. This affects the minds of generations, and that is where schadenfreude comes in. As long as you yourself are not affected by fear, pain, humiliation or even war, then it is okay. Perhaps those who are affected, deserve it. When you come to think of it, you suddenly decide that they do deserve it because…

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Because of what? Because you said so? Because someone told you that?

There is a war in Ukraine, but why should you care? You are sure they deserve it, because someone stated on the social media that Putin took action to save Ukraine from the Nazis but the Ukrainians fought back. You believe in this because someone told you so on the social media. It is risky to believe everything you hear or read on the social media. A lot of trolls are using the current war situation to get through with their messages, and they don’t give a damn about the truth. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is re-writing history and too many Russians are brainwashed because they only hear one side of the story. The media in Russia is controlled by the state, and this means that Putin and his ministers decide what the people should know and what not to know. Those Russians who are able to speak English have been able to follow news broadcasts from other countries, and they have understand that the Russian people are being lied to.

Putin is saying Ukraine is ruled by drug addicts and neo-Nazis. He has ordered his soldiers to go to Ukraine to “liberate” the people. The soldiers were told they would be met by cheering Ukrainians who would jump with joy when they saw Russian soldiers. Most of the soldiers, who came with the first column of tanks, were told they were on a military training. They didn’t even know they were supposed to go to Ukraine and or that there was a war going on there. This operation was not thoroughly planned and the soldiers were not properly equipped. Putin’s closest generals didn’t tell Putin the truth about the equipment of the military force in Russia. For 20 years, an extreme amount of money has been pumped into the war industry. The problem is that the generals haven’t been telling Putin the truth; they only told him what he wanted to hear.

The corruption in Russia is feeding high dignitaries and oligarchs at the expense of the Russian people. Those who believe in the system of one president ruling the country and should do so without being questioned, are allowing the president and his men to get away with too much. Can you see the parallel to your own situation in The Gambia? Look at what Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices got away with for 22 years. Look at the fact that his madness of a party is still allowed to exist and that there are still some who are not ashamed to raise their voices to praise Jammeh? Look at our current president who is feeding himself and those closest to him at your expense. History keeps on repeating itself until we demand a change. There has been some kind of change for the better, I will give you that, but there is still too much to do so there is no time to rest.

What about schadenfreude and the war in Ukraine? I have heard some people express their opinions, saying that now it is about time for white people to experience what black people have done for so long. So many opinions and so much prejudice on both sides, will this ever end? I can’t defend what my ancestors did to your ancestors, as much as you can’t defend what some of your family members have done to their families, friends and neighbours during Jammeh’s era. It is sad that we so easily point fingers at one another, before we stop and think. The war is not less horrible because it is happening in Europe. A war is not less horrible because it is happening in Africa or elsewhere. A war is just horrible and cannot be defended.

Vladimir Putin is a small man, literally a small man and he was bullied a lot when he was growing up because he is short and slim. He was a street boy, grew up unattended on the streets and learned to defend himself to survive. He began to learn judo and got a black belt in it. A black belt is a mark of honour for the most skillful in this sport. Putin grew up as a poor boy; the only surviving child in his family and was treated like a king by his parents. He learnt that he only deserved the best in life, and this enlarged his sense of greed. As being a small man, he was very sensitive when someone mentioned his size. He fought back, and with time and through his training in the Russian secret police, the KGB, he learned the fight back mentally. Here is a quote from an interview with Putin in 2015: “50 years ago the Leningrad streets taught me a rule: if a fight is inevitable you have to throw the first punch.”