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The divisive nature of #theYouthsAreHappy slogan

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Dear editor,

In the realm of political rhetoric, slogans often serve as powerful tools to rally support, convey messages, and shape public opinion. However, not all slogans are created equal, and some can exacerbate divisions rather than fostering unity. One such example is the hashtag #theYouthsAreHappy, championed by Momodou Sabally, a controversial figure in Gambian politics.

Sabally’s journey from the corridors of power to the realm of opposition politics is marked by twists and turns that have left many observers scratching their heads. His use of #theYouthsAreHappy as a rallying cry is not only disingenuous but also deeply divisive, particularly in the context of his political maneuverings and the socio-political landscape of The Gambia.

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The genesis of Sabally’s slogan can be traced back to his indictment by the Janneh Commission and subsequent ban from holding public office. Feeling aggrieved by what he perceived as injustice, Sabally launched the hashtag #CantCageMe to galvanize support and challenge the ruling establishment. However, his subsequent actions, including joining the United Democratic Party (UDP) and later, the National Peoples Party (NPP), raise questions about the sincerity of his advocacy.

Sabally’s political allegiances have shifted with remarkable agility, raising suspicions among both his former allies and newfound supporters. His association with the UDP, the largest opposition party in The Gambia, was met with skepticism by many within the party ranks due to his past ties to the authoritarian regime of Yahya Jammeh. Sabally’s attempts to position himself as a champion of youth interests, particularly within the NPP, must be viewed in this context of mistrust and skepticism.

The slogan #theYouthsAreHappy, propagated by Sabally in his new political incarnation, serves as a thinly veiled attempt to curry favor with his erstwhile allies while glossing over the deep-seated grievances and challenges facing Gambian youth. Sabally’s background as a trained economist and former government official adds a veneer of credibility to his pronouncements on youth issues, but his credibility is undermined by his opportunistic political maneuvers and lack of genuine commitment to addressing systemic issues.

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Moreover, the timing of Sabally’s slogan is particularly egregious, coming at a time when The Gambia is grappling with profound divisions and embarking on a national dialogue to heal historical wounds and forge a path forward. By promoting a narrative of youth contentment and satisfaction in the midst of widespread disillusionment and discontent, Sabally not only ignores the lived realities of young Gambians but also undermines efforts to bridge the country’s deepening divides.

In conclusion, Sabally’s hashtag #theYouthsAreHappy may seem innocuous at first glance, but a closer examination reveals its divisive nature and cynical motivations. Rather than uniting Gambians behind a shared vision of progress and prosperity, Sabally’s slogan serves to deepen existing rifts and sow discord within the body politic. As The Gambia navigates its complex socio-political landscape, it is imperative to reject empty slogans and embrace substantive dialogue and engagement to address the root causes of division and discontent.

Kalilu Bajaha

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