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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Too much democracy!

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Not long ago, someone we all know, or know of, or wish we didn’t know, stated that there is too much democracy in The Gambia. I stated that there can never be too much democracy, either we live in a democracy or not. For someone who wishes to rule a country where no one has any questions, remarks, complaints or others that can be extremly annoying for a leader of that country, it certainly can feel as there is too much democracy. The reason for that is that the leader comes from the same background as other Gambians; a life lived more or less in oppression. A life in which you didn’t know who was your friend or foe, whom you could trust or who spoke in envy of you and made your life miserable.

Let us begin with a lesson in history, because as the saying goes: ”If you know your past, you understand your present and can influence your future.” Here is what a history website is teaching us:

”In the year 507 B.C., the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people” (from demos, “the people,” and kratos, or “power”). It was the first known democracy in the world.

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Although this Athenian democracy would survive for only two centuries, its invention by Cleisthenes, “The Father of Democracy,” was one of ancient Greece’s most enduring contributions to the modern world. The Greek system of direct democracy would pave the way for representative democracies across the globe.”

As you can see; philosophies from more than 2000 years back in time are still valid and we can learn from them. Not everything that is new is better for us. Let us go forward with about 200 years and study the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He was a man of great wisdom and was always willing to share this with his pupils. As democracy was born in Greece, Aristotle was familiar with the thoughts of Cleisthenes, the father of democracy. Aristotle was one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived and the first genuine scientist in history. He made pioneering contributions to all fields of philosophy and science; he invented the field of formal logic, and he identified the various scientific disciplines and explored their relationships to each other.

Aristotle considered people by nature being political creatures, the word politics comes from the Greek word ”polis” which means city. He meant that all people are sociable beings and that every understanding of human actions and needs must include social considerations. What does that mean? Well, it can mean that every political decision must first be analyzed to see which consequences it might lead to. Aristotle meant that we should never rush into decisions. We must analyze them, weigh advantages against disadvantages. Through Aristotle’s deep and thorough thinking, teaching and discussions with other philosophers, he found the art of public speaking, so-called rhetorics.

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For those of you who are dreaming of a career in the politics, you should listen now and learn because this knowledge will help you in making your point clear and will make people listening to you. If you don’t dream of a career in politics, this knowledge is still useful for you. Let’s say that you are not satisfied with your salary, and you have noticed that others get more even if they do less. Be wise, be patient and use rhetorics and that will help you to make others understand your point. Let us also say that whenever you meet a politician, some local guy who doesn’t do what he is supposed to do, but is paid for doing that. Be wise, gather your facts, use rhetorics and you might make him understand. Shouting, arguing or even throwing stones at someone might make your point, but the consequences of those actions will not be in your favour.

So what is rhetorics? It is the art of public speaking, not common gossiping on the ferry from Banjul to Barra or at other places where a lot of people gather. Rhetorics is about making your point in a certain matter that is important for you and/or others. The Greek philosopher Aristotle systematized rhetorics into three categories; ethos, pathos and logos. He had been considering this for a very long time, and found that all people make decisions based on these grounds. Whenever anyone speaks in public, it is important to know that people listen to you in a different way than they should do when they listen to a friend or a relative who speaks about a matter, no matter how important it can appear. Public speaking can also lead to public ridicule, so it is best to be prepared.

I will explain these three parts of rhetorics for you, but I will also give you a narrative so it can be a bit easier for you to understand.

Let us begin with ethos: you wish to appear as a good, honest and trustworthy person. You begin your speech with telling a little about yourself and your merits. You make sure to appear calm, your body language is controlled and your voice is deep. You make a good impression and people are willing to listen to you. You have made them understand that you deserve their time and respect. That is a good beginning, so now you can go to part number two; pathos.

The Greek word páthos means “experience, misfortune, emotion, condition,” and comes from Greek path-, meaning “experience, undergo, suffer. The English word pathetic refers to someone or something that is pitiful. Why should you use pathos as a way of making your point? Because pathos is about emotions, if you speak well about something that matters a lot to you, you will see that your audience will be caught by your emotions. Let’s say that you speak about the safety on our roads, and that you lost a family member in a tragic car accident; everyone will understand what you mean because you speak to their emotions based on their own experiences on the roads of The Gambia. Coming this far, you can now show some statistics on how many accidents that happened within a certain time, but before, it would have been too early.

The last part is logos, and this is where the statistics, the PowerPoint presentation etc comes in. This is where you are presenting your facts and show that you don’t only speak your opinions, you base your opinions on facts. This is where you have the possibility to make people understand that you are both trustworthy, compassionate and know what you are talking about. I began this essay talking about a guy who thinks there is too much democracy in The Gambia. This guy needs to be educated so he doesn’t drag you all into his delusional narrative of how your country should be ruled. You all know whom I am referring to, please show this essay to him and he might learn a thing or two, or perhaps dismiss it as fake news.

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