Oops, perhaps some of you might have been slightly shocked by this headline. Sorry for that. This is actually a song title, written by the English singer Ian Dury in 1977. The song is from a music genre called funk-punk, written in the middle of the punk rock era which was huge in the UK in the 1970s.
The lyrics are a message to people that there is more in life than work and adjusting to a ”normal” life. Punk rockers made a revolt against everything that was according to the norm, anything we consider as normal. The message was that you can do whatever you wish, whenever you want. If you want to make music but you have never held an instrument in your hands – play anyway. If you want to sing, but your voice is making the windows crack – sing anyway. Skip the norm for what is called beautiful music and create your own version.
Other norms that were broken were being a labourer. Work is tiring, getting up early in the morning is exhausting especially if you have been up all night partying. Doing as you are told is against your principles and only for losers. Dressing nicely is boring, rip your clothes in pieces and keep the pieces together with safety pins instead. If you have some safety pins left you can use them as earrings. Combat boots are practical when you want to kick someone who doesn’t have the same opinion as you. Alcohol and drugs make you forget your sorrows and the feeling that you are missing out something in your life. Instead of taking the risk to getting sobre and allowing your sorrows to catch up, you just continue drinking or taking more drugs and ignore your true emotions.
If you have managed to read this far, without getting furious and believing that I am completely out of my mind, I will tell you why I chose this subject.
I am following the Poliso Magazine on Facebook. Some of you might know what I am talking about, and for those of you who don’t I will tell you what it is. Our Gambian Police Force is doing a great job, trying to prevent crime and drugs. It is a tough job and it will take several years before we will see the results they are aiming for, but they have a vision and they are working hard for it.
There is too much drugs in the country and also going through the country. There is a lot of money involved in this business so of course the drug dealers are doing their best to hide their actions. Considering the financial struggles the Gambia Police Force is facing, I am amazed that they have achieved as much so far. I like the beginning; transparency, and the way the Police Force is declaring their actions. I know that we have had huge problems with the police force before, but even though the road is hard and long they are now going in the right direction.
Drugs and criminal actions go hand-in-hand, and we must all help the police to break this. When people are under the influence of drugs they don’t act rationally. The drugs are toxic and mess up the brain functions completely. There are even drugs that make people believe they are cannibals, they attack other people and try to eat their flesh. There are many reasons why people become drug abusers. Curiosity is the first step in to a world where you hardly find your way out alive. Young people become, for example, influenced by music and music videos. Young people have always revolted against the norm in one way or another. Living in a country like The Gambia where there are few opportunities for young people to get a higher education or a job can make so many of our youth feeling despondent.
Our education system is failing our youths, it focuses on exams and not on life skills. We don’t teach the youths to become independent, creative and confident. No, we teach them to repeat oldschool knowledge, teach them that their opinions don’t count and make them obedient. Obedience can be a good thing, at the right moment, but disobedience has, many times, brought about progress to humanity. Those who are not afraid to follow the beat of their own drums are those who tread a new path where others will follow. If everyone walks in one line we wouldn’t be able to see new views, learn new things and get new experiences. Instead the path we are following would become a ditch that becomes deeper and deeper until we are unable to see over the brim.
The kind of music I told you that young people are influenced by, is for example hip hop which is a very popular genre. Not all hip hop music has a message we would consider as having a bad influence. There is no use in banning this music, because that will always backfire. Instead we should be aware of the message it is spreading and speak to our youths about it. Let us end the old-fashioned way of approaching our kids and our young ones. They are smarter than we think and if we show a true interest in their thoughts and opinions we will find that they can actually teach us a lot and not only the opposite. The youths are our future so we need to consider what kind of future we wish to have. Mutual respect is developing, fear is diminishing the self-esteem and is causing revoltation.
If we do all that we can to create a bright future for our youth, we will find that they don’t have the need of stimulants. We must give our youths a sense that they are important, that we believe in them. We must encourage them to study and through our politics create financial opportunities for them to study. Vocational schools are just as important as any other kind of education. We must give our school drop-outs a new chance to get back and become educated. Girls who got pregnant and had to drop out of school should get the possibility to come back and continue their education. If we force them to stay home, we also force them into a life of poverty. There should be vocational schools for these girls where there is also a daycare centre where their babies will be taken care of by educated personel.
Shaming people leads us nowhere! Our religion gives a huge relief in times of distress, but we also use it to shame people who didn’t follow the norm. When our only tool is to shame them, we will find no ways to deal with the problem. If we educate our young ones, speak to them, get to know them better and listen to their needs, we will create a better environment for us all. Listen to hip hop music together, look at the videos and discuss why there is so much sex and drugs and dirty actions in them. Don’t judge, just discuss and you will get a long way. Help our youth to express their creativity, even if you don’t automatically like what you see or hear. Pray for those who abuse drugs, but also give them therapy so they can become clean again. Don’t shame those who break the norm, who left the right path. Show them that they are welcome back and support them in their struggle.