Wash my sins away

142

With Aicha

Cleanliness is a foundation of Islam, not only physical but spiritual cleanliness.

During the holy month of Ramadan we pray for forgiveness of our sins.

We pray that God will listen and accept our prayers, we fast to purify our souls as well as our bodies. So far, so good, but now I want to dig deeper as it is my habit.

The Minister for the Interior in The Gambia is calling protestors troublemakers and his solution for the problem is to pour hot water on them.

Really? Is that his solution? Is he serious or did he pour out this madness without thinking? Is this a way of cleaning away the sins of those who are not satisfied with their lives and who are impudent enough to express their opinions instead of staying quiet?
Has our Minister for the Interior heard about a wonderful thing called democracy? We are supposed to have that in The Gambia now, but maybe that is (to use Donald Trump’s favourite word) a hoax.

Maybe those who are leading our country are trying to fool us all that the oppression has lost its grip over The Gambia? Are we to believe that everything is good until bad times strike again? Are we to believe that we can rest in peace in our beds at night, thinking that no one will ever more bang on a door and pull people out of their beds? Are we to believe that we can finally express ourselves as we wish, without fear, without looking over our shoulder, without getting this awkward feeling when someone is looking at us in a strange way? Are our leaders wolves in sheep’s clothes, hiding their true agenda behind sweet words? Is there a slow process going on somewhere that will dig its claws deep into the flesh of unaware Gambians?
What will be invested in the next time? Now a water cannon, what next? In case of a protest meeting, who is the target for the hot water? Why hot? Why not cold? How hot will the water be? Boiling? Why water, why a cannon? Is this how we treat people in a democracy? Are we to scare the citizens to be obedient? That is not democracy, that is tyranny! Our leaders must learn that it takes time for people to learn how to live and act in a democracy.

What we need are leaders that are pedagogues, who understand the mind of their people and who do their best to reach out to each and every citizen.

In the old days it was possible to get away with actions that injured the citizens of an African country, but since the Internet took over the world it has become more transparent.

So – who is the target for the water cannon? Is it possible to pour out the water so precisely so it will only hurt those you believe are the main troublemakers? Does this beast have some kind of device that can read people’s minds so it can detect the ones who started the commotion and leave the others unharmed? Will the pressure of the water be enough only to shower people, so that those who are lucky enough to have a soap in their grip can use the possibility to take a quick bath? Will it instead be hard enough to make people fall, hurt themselves, break some bones or even get run over by a rushing car that tries to get away from all the madness?
Will the cannon spread the water widely or will it be a hard spurt that can kill the one it hits? What about those who are innocent, who happen to be in the way? What about women with a baby on their backs? What about the curious kids who always gather when they believe something exciting is going to happen? What about old people who are not fast enough to run away? How will the hot water injure all these people, because there are always a lot of people out on our streets? What is the plan? To make people a little wet, like in a summer’s rain, or to make their flesh burst of the hot water? All of you who have burnt yourselves with hot water sometimes know how much it hurts and that the pain will stay for a long time.

Do we have professional staff at our hospitals who can take care of the wounds caused by this hot water? Do we have special wards at our hospitals where these people work? Do we have enough ambulances to bring the injured people to the hospitals? Do we have roads that are good enough for an ambulance to rush to the hospital and then rush back again to pick up more patients? The answer for these last questions is NO and we all know that. Dear Minister for the Interior, have you really thought this through? Do you really find your fellow citizens so threatening so you can justify your statement? Have you thought about the aftermath? Do you think people will shut up and not question anything anymore because you have been flexing your muscles? Are you familiar with this: #NeverAgain.

What does it mean for you? Does it mean the same for you as for others?
The world is transparent, either you like it or not, and the world will react harshly if the promised democracy is violated.

The Gambia is a small and poor country, mainly depending on groundnuts and tourism for its income. Have you thought of the consequences when travel agencies, tour operators, airway companies and tourists who loves The Gambia will hear that The Gambia doesn’t feel safe anymore? Were you aware of how much the local tour operators and all who are depending on the tourism lost some years ago when people feared that Ebola had found its way to The Gambia? We never got Ebola to our country, thank God for that, but the rumours were enough to keep people away

. Don’t you think that people abroad speak about the situation in The Gambia? Don’t you think that we discuss it with each other, that we fear what will happen?
Don’t you think that this fear will spread, because that is how it works. Fear doesn’t need facts, fear feeds on rumours.

Some of us try to find the facts before we make up our minds, but most people are fast to judge. There are other countries the tourists will benefit instead and it can take years to turn the trend.

Are you aware of that, dear Minister, or do you stare at some imaginary risk until you turn blind for the actual case? I feel sorry for you if you are so afraid of your own people.

It’s really sad and I wonder if you ever step out of the fancy car I am sure you are driven in and walk among common people? What has made you so angry? What is making you distrust the citizens of The Gambia, your brothers and sisters?
There are always people who have opinions you don’t agree with, but as long as they follow the law you just have to leave them be.

Speaking out like that, calling protestors troublemakers, actually causes trouble.

You can think for yourself that people are this or that, but as a public person you need to keep your calm.

In your office you can scream and swear about idiots who don’t understand what is best for them, but you can’t say that in public. It’s not politically correct.

Politics, which you are a part of, is a game that can be dirty sometimes.

In politics you need to be smart and act smart, you need to choose your words wisely because what you say will be repeated over and over again.

As soon as your words are in printing they will never disappear, so choose your words wisely.

Wouldn’t it be better to communicate with people? Protection of the borders is necessary; drugs and different kind of maniacs are using the same ways to get into the country. The Gambia is so small and should be easy to protect.

The Gambians are mostly kind and goodhearted people so if you reach out to them they will meet you with open arms.

Why do you think we are so many who keep on coming back to the Gambia, year after year, if we didn’t love the country and its people? Have you spoken to any of us who sponsor families, work as volunteers, build up schools and foundations? Have you asked us why we came even during the hard times when Jammeh ruled the country? Have we seen something you are unable to see?
How will the Gambia develop if it continues to be lead by fear? The Gambians expect more now, they will not accept to go back to ”the good old days” as still some people think it was before.

The world outside The Gambia has its eyes set on the development, don’t believe anything else.

Isn’t it about time that our beautiful little country can take a deep breath of relief, are not the Gambian people worth it? Why not communicate with your own people instead of pointing fingers at them, because it must be better to have them with you instead of against you – don’t you think? Afraid people become angry people and angry people become dangerous. This is a fact and we have seen evidence of this through the history.

Why not follow the Golden Rule – everything you wish your fellow man should do to you, you should do to them? Must the life in the Gambia continue being a constant battle, or is it time to change this now and for all? The fear you feel deep within, Dear Minister, is felt as deeply in every Gambian who think about the future and wonder if it ever is going to become better.

Your fear doesn’t have a higher value than the fear your brothers and sisters feel.

Imagine the day you order ”the beast” to roll away for an attack towards the citizens of The Gambia – what if some of your family members are in that crowd?