By Gibril Sanneh
We must not let the demon called ‘tribalism’ show its ugly head in our new political dispensation. The Oxford Dictionary of Current English, third edition, outlines tribalism as behaviour and attitudes that are based on one’s loyalty to a tribe or other social group. Gambians are known all over the globe as highly sociable, hardworking, peace-loving and law-abiding citizens. This has branded us with a unique mark most countries envy us and I believe that should not be jeopardised thereof leaving us in an abyss.
The gaping abyss seemingly wants to draw us back and eventually consume us but we as brothers and sisters of a great nation must not give space to hate speech or political and ethnic division in any form that would serve as a magnetic force that would drag us into the gaping abyss. I commend those who have been in the forefront nurturing the spirit of oneness and working in unison for a better Gambia from the beginning. It is only we, the Gambians, who can make The Gambia a heavenly or hellish place on earth depending on how we reason and act. Hate speech and incendiary utterances must have no space in ‘Gambianshpere’.
Accordingly, I would like to give a brief clue of what transpired way back in Rwanda as a reference to what hate speech, political and ethnic division can lead to if left unaddressed.
Have you ever heard of any worse horrific event than genocide, the treachery and the tears brought about as a result of that event? Well, if not, let me take you through the horrendous marks genocide has left on the foreheads of Rwandans.
On 6 April 1994, the airplane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot to down by armed men with RPG. That night, echoes of the Rwandan civil war which began in 1990 began to sound.
Ensuing this, the perpetrators took advantage of the power vacuum to arm their loyalists with assortments of weapons to rape, maim and facilitate their fellow Rwandans’ journey to joining their ancestors in afterlife. The earth opened to receive dead bodies of all sizes. An estimated one million people were killed in just 77 days because of their ethnicity. There were road blocks everywhere; not even a rat could escape and the perpetrators watered crops with blood in that rainy season. You could hear innocent yells in distant voices being battered to a cruel death. Men in their eighties and two-year-olds were chopped into pieces with machetes.
Those indeed were dark moments. Some of the country’s infrastructural pillars were deliberately turned into dust. The exuberant masses, teachers, nurses, doctors and the iconic individuals were forever muted. How do we progress as Africans when we kill our best? I keep wondering whether the wounds inflicted on those innocent Rwandans will ever heal. Where was the international community when the Rwandan state was turned into a human abattoir? Have the perpetrators been brought to justice and all the wasted lives compensated? These are the questions that come on my lips every new day.
Today, we are witnessing more violence and killings in other African states as a result of greed for power and ethnic division.
Enough is enough! The butchery committed is enough to change the waters of the world into red. “Martin Luther King, Jr said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” He’s said it all.
This isn’t an in-depth story of what really took place in Rwanda but it should be a learning point to all and sundry that national interest should be put first before any other thing. We are indivisible and being a Wolof, Manjago, Jola, Fula, Mandinka, Sarahule and so forth doesn’t matter. What matters is the identity of being a Gambian and an African at large. The same red blood runs in our veins.
May Allah save and protect our dear nation The Gambia from all forms of evil. Amin.