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Monday, July 22, 2024
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Survival over freedom

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By Alagie Saidy-Barrow

I came across a quote by Paulos Tesfagiorgis, an Eritrean human rights campaigner, who was speaking of their President in Eritrea. He said:

“Isaias will be in power for a long time. He lets people fight for their survival so that they do not fight for their freedom.”

I found this quote profound on so many levels. Though Tesfagiorgis was speaking specifically about how Isaias Afwerki controls his people to maintain a firm grip on power, he could have been talking about any other dictator, specifically, Yahya Jammeh and those who addressed themselves as his “humble servants.” He could have been talking about the many spineless Gambians who simply prostitute themselves to any paying politician.

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How many times have you heard Gambians maintain that they have a family to feed and so they acquiesced to evil or closed their eyes to abuse? And these are usually people who will bombard you with their religiosity and promptly tell you they fear no one but their God! You’d think they’d also believe that their God will never abandon them if they follow God’s dictates but no, they are actually quick to chalk their spinelessness to the “will of God.” They believe in God but do not Trust God to take care of them through adversity!

So many of us were busy fighting for our survival and so we forgot about our freedom. We don’t realize that no one can be free when you’re living in fear. Don’t mind all they tell you about how they were the only ones Yahya listened to, or how they spoke truth to Yahya. I’m sure some people had the galls to tell Yahya the truth, but I can guarantee you that all those lionizing themselves today never had the intestinal fortitude to tell Yahya anything he didn’t want to hear. Check their body language when they conferred with Yahya and you’ll see the magnificence of their subservience in the way they lower themselves (literally) to receive messages! The level of fear within Yahya’s evil government was so pervasive that almost anyone you talk to in senior government positions was walking on pins and needles wondering when men in black would come knocking in the middle of the night! You can’t be living with that type of fear and claim to be free! But greed for fame, wealth, and government positions served as the counterbalancing force to their fear so they held on tight!

But some of what happened under Yahya is not some social aberration. You only have to look around today to see how so many of us consign ourselves to survival by all means and ignore our freedom. Some of us remain unhealthily attached to political benefactors and hold on for dear life. The political benefactor does no wrong and the minions work overtime to try and convince the people that the benefactor is some type of saint sent by Allah to be a leader.

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This exchange of freedom for survival is not limited to individual Gambians. You can also see it in how African countries remain subservient to the countries they beg and borrow from. Because many African countries tether their survival to the magnanimity of the Chinese and Western Countries, they essentially curtail their freedom to stand up for themselves in the international arena. That’s why many African states do not condemn what China is doing to our Muslim brothers and sisters. That is why many African nations close their eyes to the terrible abuse in Palestine. That is why we remain impotent in addressing the crisis in Sudan and DRC.

That is why many countries in Africa have become fertile grounds for proxy wars between ideologies and economic interests of the West. China and the West keep us busy begging for our survival so we forget about our freedom and that of others we claim as brothers and sisters.

For the Gambian, an addiction to or obsession with anything can severely limit one’s freedom, and our addiction to “Palass” and its attendant benefits is what keeps many of us foaming at the mouth in the presence of any opportunity. The extreme case is when many enter Ministerdom, where many consciences go to die! For many Gambian ministers, being a minister becomes the time for them to close their eyes to evil and pretend that Gambians are living in heaven. They see no wrong and hear no evil. They become so occupied with surviving in Ministerdom that they do not realize their bondage. May Daarmanso guide me so I never become a slave of fear or material wealth. May Daarmanso never allow me to be at peace when my country’s people are being killed and raped and their freedom stolen by those in power. May we never be so preoccupied with our survival that we forget about our freedom.

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