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Friday, February 23, 2024
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The sins of the father, shall be visited upon the child

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With Aisha Jallow

Is The Gambia doomed to a life in poverty forever? Depending on whom you ask, you will get different answers, but I think the majority of the answers are yes, it seems like it. The Gambia is so deep down in the poverty swamp that anyone who wishes to get away from it, to safer ground, will immediately be sucked back in the mud.

There seems to be no rightful will to change anything for the better, for the whole society, for each and everyone and not only those who have the right connections and are able to suckle the tit of Mother Gambia until she is empty and dry.

In some years there will be a new presidential election in The Gambia. What kind of lies, discovered as promises, will you hear? What plans are the high and mighty making in good time before the election? They need to be convincing and able to fool as many as possible that if you vote for them, your life will be so much better. Hmm… Perhaps I should say that your life should become good, instead, because to be better, your life has to start on a higher level than the current. There is a sense of apathy when we speak politics in The Gambia. You say that nothing will change for the better, everything has become worse, more expensive, more insecure and hopeless.

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The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr Hamat Bah, is the top leader of President Barrow’s fan club. For some reason, this minister is the one who is informing us about the president’s plans and promises. I thought there should be someone who has as his or her job to inform the public, but I might be wrong. Mr Hamat Bah is known for speaking out about a lot, except for what he actually is supposed to talk about. Maybe there are mice in the straw hat he loves to wear, and the sound they are making while they eat up the hat is disturbing his thoughts. Not easy to be a minister who has to follow the president’s every move like a puppy dog.

I have been listening to a podcast about Africa, which was very interesting. I learned that in Tunisia they have a thriving medical tourism. People come from abroad to undergo treatments of different kinds, and this is possible because the Tunisian government has invested in the medical sector there. Skilled doctors and nurses, who often become educated in other countries, come back to their own country to work at the fashionable clinics there. You can buy an all-inclusive package with the flight, hotel room and an operation included. All this for prices that are only one-tenth of the cost in, for example, the US or France.

Something for the Minister of Tourism to look in to, but considering that we don’t have enough hospitals, clinics, skilled doctors and nurses in The Gambia we are not a part of the competition. We don’t even have a hospital where cancer can be treated, so getting that diagnosis is a death sentence for a Gambian without means. Is there any minister in The Gambia who is looking into this issue, or are Gambian lives of no value?

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We like to consider ourselves as a pious people, but how do rituals and prayers help us when we are unable to help ourselves? As long as we say that everything is in the hands of God, we renounce our own responsibility to care for each and everyone.

Our leaders, who are born and raised into the same system use this mindset for their own benefit. No one dares to argue about God, so instead of really penetrating the issues and finding solutions, we repeat what others have said before us – it is in the hands of God.

Just contemplate on the fact for a while, that God gave us brains when He created humanity. If we were supposed to walk around without a thought, He could just as well given us an empty coconut shell up there. Your head is not there only to hold your hat, it is there for you to use!

In the Holy Bible, in a part called Exodus, it tells us that our God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. God is forgiving our sins, but then it also says that God does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. But will we really be punished for something our parents did?

In this text, we are confronted with the intimidating concept of generational accountability. But if we dig a little deeper, we’ll see that God isn’t saying He will bring His wrath upon totally innocent children for their parents’ actions.

God is warning His people that each generation will be held accountable if they repeat the sins of the previous generation. Why does God say He will hold each generation accountable to “the third and the fourth?” What does this even mean? Is the fifth generation off the hook?

”Third and fourth” is a Hebrew idiom that means “for whatever number it takes”.

God’s heart isn’t about punishing people. This verse makes clear that God does not punish children for their parents’ sins. God does not punish a new generation for the sins of a former generation. But God does hold children who don’t learn from their parents’ mistakes accountable.

It is the responsibility of every generation not to repeat the mistakes of those who came before them. We may not be responsible for our parents’ mistakes, but we still have to deal with the consequences of their choices.

This reality should be both sobering and hopeful.

For example, those with addiction or abuse in their family trees have already had to deal with the consequences of the mistakes of their parents or grandparents.

Denying that something bad happened in the past is a dangerous step toward prolonging harmful patterns and cycles within our families and communities.

When we rightly remember past wrongs, we open ourselves up to the opportunity to do things differently in our own lives and in the lives of future generations

No matter if you are a Muslim or a Christian, our God is the same and has the same expectations on us. We are expected to not only care about ourselves, but of everyone else as well as the future generations. Our missteps will create a pattern for our future generations to follow, if they don’t decide to create a new and better pattern. I wonder what goes on in the mind of the former Gambian Minister for the Interior, Mr Ousman Sonko, when he is facing the Swiss Criminal Court? Does he consider his sins and ask himself what led him to all his actions during the reign of The Oppressor?

Is he so convinced that all his lies are the truth that he believes himself? Where will his actions lead the future generations? Will they follow his path, or will they decide that they will never do anything that could lead them to face justice? It is a matter of the mindset, not only how someone is raised.

If we allow people like Sonko or Jammeh to lead the way, we are definitely doomed!

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