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Monday, May 27, 2024

Time for some introspection?

Time for some introspection?

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As much as we love to call The Gambia ”The Smiling Coast of Africa” it seems as plenty of the smiles have faded and transformed to sneers. People who seemed to be tranquil and calm, suddenly showed a side of themselves that had been well hidden. There was a lot at stake during the times of the presidential election, for all parties and their candidates. That is normal and of course everyone were hoping for the best outcome of the election. What we really need to consider, now when we try to deal with the aftermath, is what was the reason for the candidate’s participation in the election? Was it for their own personal gain, or was it for the benefit of The Gambia? If we would ask them a straight question, I’m sure we wouldn’t get a straight answer. Politicians tell you what they believe you want to hear, not how it actually is.

Here is a quote by an ancient Greek philosopher named Epictetus:

”It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

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Even if he said that a very long time ago, he lived 50 – 138 AD, it is still valid and worth to ponder. For many it was a great success that Barrow won the election, and for a great many others it was a huge disappointment. I understand that, and I am one among all the disappointed, but the election was fair so we have to deal with it. Sore losers always try to find excuses for their loss, they blame this and that instead of using their time for some healthy introspection.

Did you know that there is a synonym for introspection, and that is navel gazing. A person who is prone to navel gazing is deeply pondering his or her trouble. The blame for the trouble will always be put on someone else, the level of the thoughts is low. The thoughts will never fly high and freely, finding new perspectives and solutions. No, a navel gazer doesn’t look up for a new narrative, s/he stays down in apathy and the only time this person reacts is when triggered. The triggers can differ, but it can be small things like facing a disappointment and not knowing how to deal with it.

Being a navel gazer is not healthy, it is very close to another fancy term called narcissism. A narcissist is someone who is amazed by his or her perfection. Narcissus was, according to ancient Greek mythology, a very beautiful boy. He was so beautiful that everyone immediately fell in love with him when they saw him. Narcissus became obsessed by his own image and doomed to a life in loneliness. He rejected love as no one came up to his own level of perfection. A narcissist is someone who is shallow and self centered, has high thoughts of himself and then of course low thoughts of everyone else. Does that sound like a nice person? No, of course not, and you are not like that, only a lot of others you know of!

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I am teasing you a bit, but what I am really trying to do is to encourage you to some healthy introspection. Are you among those who celebrate the win of Barrow and the NPP? Good for you, but don’t rub that in the faces of others who don’t share your joy. Are you instead among the disappointed, who had put your heart and soul into the campaigning for ”your” party and then lost? How do you deal with that in a mature way? Well, not as many fans of our other large party, the UDP, anyway. It is okay to verbally express one’s disapproval with the outcome of the presidential election, but it is never okay using violence. Never!

We had a free and democratic election, everything was monitored and controlled both by local and foreign control organs. Where is the peace and tranquility we so often tell is the trademark of the Gambian people, when a riot takes place? I am deeply disappointed in those who were completely unable to control their emotions. It is saddening and even embarrassing. I am not satisfied with Barrow getting re-elected, but he is not a monster. He is a disappointment and has been that for the last five years. Only God knows if he will improve, but facing the facts we must give him a chance.

Barrow comes from the same circumstances as most of you, and he is just as little adjusted to democracy as anyone else in The Gambia. He has lived in the UK for some years, but that doesn’t change a person in the core. It is a society, with its culture and education level that has an impact on a person.

What we need to do now is to remain calm, but wary. Barrow and his party, the NPP, won the election but let us keep on reminding them that we are keeping an eye on their every move. I must admit that there is one good thing Barrow has implemented during his first term, and that is the freedom of speech.

Some of you might disagree, but we must look at it in a historical perspective. It would have been completely impossible for someone like me to get my articles published, let’s say 10 years ago. Journalists are not threatened or followed by black cars, people use social media and are not spied on and punished for what they write.

Democracy is a slow process and we all have to take our part in this work. We can’t sit down and expect someone else to handle things for us, we need to educate ourselves and stay adamant that we will never allow anyone to oppress the Gambian people anymore.

Yahya Jammeh was the ”master” of oppression, but oppression can show up in different shapes and one of them is tribalism. Belonging to a tribe is an important part of one’s person, it is a part of one’s culture and traditions. So far, so good, but when it comes to compare one’s tribe with someone else’s, we are back at playground level where kids argue of who’s father is the strongest and try to solve the argument with a fight.

You are so intertwined with each other in The Gambia, how can you even consider to begin an argument about tribes? For those of you who have parents where the mother comes from one tribe and the father from another – who should you argue with? Your parents? Yourself? God?

You are all Gambians, so it is about time to change the mindset and begin to think of yourselves as one people. You can’t afford to fight about such petty things as which tribe was there first or whatever the silly arguments are about. If you want to be respected, treat others with respect, it is as easy (or hard) as that.

There is no tribe that is better than any other tribe. You are all Gambians and should take pride in that. Leave this old tribal-schism behind you and look forward. For those of you who still believe you are better than others – introspection is the keyword. Some soul searching to see what went wrong and how to fix it is a good lesson to learn for all of us, don’t you think?

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