It has become quite evident that Africa has been the centre stage of the violent reaction to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. One would however wonder why we Africans should always tend to violently manifest our intolerance when it comes to religious matters. Let’s just consider, for instance, the mayhem and brutality being unleashed on the innocent people of Nigeria and its neighbours by Boko Haram in the name of Islam, indiscriminately burning villages and killing or abducting anyone they come across, behaving as if they are not human.
It is quite common to see Africans of all religious persuasions violently reacting to issues that hardly affect them. For instance, during the demonstrations against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, we have heard about the many deaths and the burning of several churches in Niger, and one cannot but wonder what the Nigerien Christians have got to do with those cartoons that they should be targeted.
Another catastrophic situation was what had been going on in the Central African Republic where Muslims and Christians have been committing atrocities on each other in the name of their religious persuasions, which is another good example of Africans’ religious intolerance. Is it a question of “an inferior imitates his master” and usually over-doing it or “being more Catholic than the Pope”?
For instance, in the case of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, we have seen that the reaction in the Middle East where the Islamic religion originates and other non-African Islamic nations had been much more muted than what we have seen in some parts of Africa. If we consider that in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam or in Indonesia which alone has more Muslims than the whole of Africa put together, there has not been a single reported death or property destruction in connection with those cartoons. Therefore, it is hard to comprehend why we Africans should always tend to react to such issues with unnecessary violence.
This uncivilised way of dealing with issues is certainly giving Africans a very bad name because there is absolutely no justification for such violent reaction to issues of global concern. In the case of Niger, many people have been killed and properties destroyed and yet, they have achieved absolutely nothing. All that they have done is kill a few of their own people and destroy property which has not the least affected the journalists at Charlie Hebdo or even the French government against whom they were protesting. When will Africans learn that violence hardly solves any of our problems, but instead it simply harms our reputation as a civilised people?
Post-2015 agenda should address Gambia’s unfinished goals
Please allow me space on your widely read newspaper to reflect on the Millenium Development Goals and what the future holds for the country. The country’s scorecard is quite impressive when it comes to strides made in some of the MDG targets. However, much still remains. It is true that government recognises the fact that a new set of goals would handle issues not completely addressed under the current framework, such as poverty reduction, access to sustainable energy, maternal mortality, among others. Meanwhile, the new agenda should be completed with strategies to sustain the momentum in the final push to achieve the MDGs in the areas where The Gambia lags behind. I must also recognise for example, that poverty eradication remains a global challenge but it is also an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. To achieve sustainable development, there is the need to promote inclusive and equitable economic, social and environmental equity and prudent natural resource management.
The formulation of post-2015 development agenda should be based on these principles in an inclusive process that lends voice to the yearnings of all and particularly, disadvantaged groups. These new goals must also integrate the social, economic and environmental imperatives of sustaining development. As we match out of the MDG timeline, what’s now left is the post-2015 development agenda. I believe the post-2015 development agenda will tackle unfinished Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework. Many Gambians have genuinely expressed satisfaction of the progress that has been made so far but we have to equally be cognisant of the fact that the country still has a long way to go.