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Friday, December 4, 2020

Where is your dignity?

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Recently I read an article where the leader of UDP, Ousainu Darboe, stressed that the insulting of President Barrow’s parents has to end. Really? Does he really have to tell people that? Isn’t it a sign of maturity and dignity to keep away from such childish manners? Everyone who has followed my articles has understood that I am not a fan of President Barrow, but insulting his parents? My eyebrows are so high up now so they are hidden under my hair. Why this obsession of digging up dirt and throwing it in other people’s faces? Who cares if Barrow’s parents are interested in politics or not? What more dirt could we dig up? That Barrow’s mother doesn’t iron Barrow’s father’s shirts perfectly, or that Barrow’s father once said a bad word when he hit his little toe on a chair – and that was on a Friday! My God! Give the man a slack, we have more important business to care about.

Do you know the expression: ”The s**t hits the fan”? That’s when you try to throw it somewhere, but it comes back at you – with force. The only way of avoiding that is actually to stop throwing the s**t. You don’t gain anything with it, you only show your own immaturity. The former First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama, always used to say: ”When they go low, we go high”. Even if you don’t like someone, you can treat him or her with respect. Ha, you shout you! What about me then? Haven’t I been tough and said this and that about President Barrow, some politicians and even a televangelist? Yes, I have and I will continue doing that, but you have never seen me insulting anyone. If the truth is being considered as insults then what can I do? I try my best to do thorough research before I begin to write my articles. I don’t get a single butut for writing them, but still I work several hours every week with them. I listen to audios, I read articles, I read books, talk to people and ask questions about things I need to know or that I don’t understand. I am curious by nature, but that curiosity leads me to a deeper knowledge.

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I hate gossip, I have few friends but those I have are close to me. I am not interested in how other people live their lives, as long as they don’t interfere in mine. I am never bored, I am always occupied with something, and even if it doesn’t look that way, you can rest assured that my brain is busy. I often find myself listening inwards when I feel that there is some process going on in my mind. I might have an idea of what to write about, but I need to let that embryo grow for a while. Writing is a process and it can’t be forced. I know that the correct words will come to me, I only need to search for them. That process can differ in time, some articles come to me like a water flow and others are hiding behind lot of obstacles.

Why do we build up walls around us and use them as barriers? We hide there together with members of our family, or our tribe, or members of the same political party. We pick up mental stones and throw them at those who are on the other side of the wall. We see enemies everywhere, we are blinded by greed, by a ”what’s-in-it-for-me” mentality that is making us unable to see that it is not a matter of ”me”, it is always about ”us”.
The smiles the Gambia is famous for have turned out to be frowns instead. The happiness is hard to find when the stomach is empty and your kids are crying. It is hard to smile when you walk along the roadside and are passed by fancy cars with air conditioning. You know that inside these cars there are well fed men (mostly) who live good lives at your expense. Of course you get upset and you think a lot of negative thoughts about them. I do understand that, but it is a big difference between thinking and saying out loud.
Small children, who begin to argue about something, often insult each other’s parents. ”My father has a car, and your father doesn’t even have a bike!”

”My mother is cooking much better food than yours!” ”My father gives me pocket money every week but your father only has dust in his pockets!” This is what kids can say to each other because they don’t understand better. It is up to us, adults, to be their rolemodels and show them a better example. How are our kids supposed to learn how to behave in a proper manner, when we can’t behave ourselves? Kids don’t do as we say, they do as we do. That has been true since the creation of the humanity so we need to change the mindset.

Every skill needs to be practiced and some skills will take longer than others to achieve. Look at our politicians for a while. Next time you see some of them speak on national TV, close your eyes and only listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Would you allow your kids to behave like those who insult others in public? I’m sure the answer is NO, you would slap the kid and tell it to watch its tongue.

Remember that the politicians have been kids too, they have been the same kind of youth you see around you. They have been strolling around, having nothing. They have been listening to you – their parents – and they have learned a certain behaviour. They have learned that politics is dirty, that politicians are corrupt and suddenly one day they find themselves in some high position. They have also learned the ”what’s-in-it-for-me” mentality since early childhood, so how do you expect them to behave otherwise?
They come to power in a context that doesn’t allow them to be corrupt openly, but it is a part of some kind of political tradition. Well, traditions are not fixed, they change with time and they can change even faster if we decide to.

We need to begin making the change from within. We need to stop insulting each other, no matter tribe, family, political party or any other difference we can find. We are humans, all of us, so let us treat each other with humility.
Get together and discuss local matters, meet your local politicians and force them to listen. It is you who are paying their salaries, they are servants of the public. It is important to treat one another with respect, but that respect must never be mistaken for fear of an authority. Remember that your local politicians are nothing without you. If you don’t vote them in, they will have no power. That power must never be used against you, it must always be used for you. An employee who does a lousy job gets kicked out from his or her work place – your politicians are working for you and that makes you their employer. Expect them to do their best, but make sure to expect the same of yourself.

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